We enter the ‘S’s of the Avalanche players, so it’s time for Duncan Siemens to get his final report card for the 2017-18 season. Let’s get to it:
It seemed like Duncan Siemens’ time might finally have been up. With a good opportunity to make the Avalanche roster out of training camp, perhaps the best opportunity of his career since being drafted 11th overall in 2011, Siemens did not make it. He was sent off, again, to the minors.
But if there is one thing Duncan Siemens apparently is NOT, it is being a quitter. He went back down to San Antonio, played 45 games of reasonably good hockey, then got a recall on Feb. 19, a day after Erik Johnson went down to a shoulder injury. The Avs’ playoff hopes looked to be over. But guess what? Siemens came in and played some pretty good hockey and made a contribution to a successful playoff run.
He played 16 games, scored his first career goal and had some really nice moments. With another late-season injury to Johnson, and an early first-round injury to Sam Girard, Siemens even played five playoff games. He wasn’t great in those games, finishing a minus-4, including a key sequence in Game 4 against Nashville in which Filip Forsberg got around him to score a big goal. But, hey, Filip Forsberg made a lot of defenders look bad in the playoffs.
Siemens seemed a bit more decisive with pucks on his stick after his recall, a bit more assertive physically. Questions about his footspeed and overall puck management remain, but it looks like there might – keyword might – still be a future for Duncan Siemens in the NHL.
Siemens grew up in Alberta, in Edmonton, so it was a big thrill for him to score his first career goal against the team presumably he hated as a kid, the Calgary Flames, on Feb. 28. It was an empty-netter with 17 seconds left in a 5-2 Avs win, but Siemens still got a hearty round of congratulations from the bench. It was a nice moment for a guy who had waited so long for that goal.
Siemens can be a restricted free agent July 1. He has played under two-way contracts since 2013-14. He earned a pro-rated base salary of $832,500 when up with the Avs, and $100,000 when playing for San Antonio. Will the Avs give him another contract for the coming season? They have until 3 p.m., June 25, to decide. I would bet that they will. Otherwise, he’d go free as a UFA and, at 24 and coming off a season in which he played 21 NHL games with the Avs, that wouldn’t seem prudent.
It seemed like Siemens was headed toward being the Biff Loman of the Avs, the kid in whom a lot of expectation was placed but who never realized it. While his future remains uncertain, at least he finally showed some of the promise that made him the 11th overall selection seven years ago. If he can just keep on working on his skating, learning better how to manage the puck at the NHL level, he might still have a real future in this league. That’s the optimistic scenario.
The negative remains that he has only played 20 combined regular-season games in his career after being the 11th overall pick in 2011. The window for Siemens to prove himself seems small. But at least it’s not totally shut.