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The Colorado Avalanche have a scoring problem.
Two years ago, they couldn’t do it at all. Last year, only one line did it with any consistency. This year, well, that’s the question on everyone’s mind as the Avs prepare to make a run at consecutive playoff appearances for the first time since general manager Joe Sakic was still captain Joe Sakic.
Enter Tyson Jost.
Selected tenth overall in 2016, Jost had an excellent freshman year at North Dakota before signing with the Avalanche and promptly having the exact kind of rookie season that makes you worry about a kid’s long-term future. While a 22-point rookie year isn’t terrible, it certainly wasn’t what Colorado or Jost were hoping for from year one. It wasn’t an entire waste of a season, however, as Jost used the trial-by-fire to pick up some helpful tips along the way.
“I look back and there’s little things like nutrition and waking up every day and being a pro, making sure you’re taking care of your body,” Jost said. “I think that’s something that halfway through last year I really changed. Just being around the NHL and hearing how guys talk, you pick up a lot. I was a sponge and soaked it all in and I found some stuff that worked for me. Just being able to take care of your body is something I definitely changed for sure.”
As Jost’s first pro season concluded with a thud in the playoffs (just one assist in the six-game series against Nashville), he went into exit interviews with Sakic and head coach Jared Bednar already looking forward to the summer because he knew he had major changes to make.
“Moreso I think it was just us having a conversation with [Sakic] and [Bednar],” Jost said. “We both just talked about things and knowing me I just asked a lot of questions. I already knew I had to get faster and that’s something we both stressed in both those meetings and it’s something I really focused on. Slimmed down, lost some weight, and I just feel a lot better. I definitely think that hard work paid off. I wouldn’t say those meetings motivated me because I was already so motivated after my first season I had with injuries. I just thought I could bring more to the table so that already motivated me. Adding the playoffs where you get that taste when you’re a young guy like that is pretty cool. That’s always in the back of your mind during the offseason when you’re working out back there. Ultimately, you want to win a Stanley Cup and that drove me for sure.”
Knowing he had work to do, Jost turned to his teammates for advice on what direction to head over the summer. It resulted in Jost seeking out a familiar face for Avalanche players.
“I changed my workout quite significantly,” Jost said. “Last summer, I did more heavy lifting, more weights. This year was more mobility and a lot of explosive work and turf workouts and track workouts. I switched trainers to Andy O’Brien. [Nathan MacKinnon] recommended him. I think it really worked for me for sure. I feel like a different player when I skate. I’m more fluid on the ice and I’m really excited for the season because I put so much work in the offseason and focused on so many little details.”
Feeling like a new man on the ice, Jost has looked excellent early on during practices. While he kept specific personal goals to himself, he did go out of his way to say he hopes he can be part of the solution on offense.
“Something that drove me heavily this summer is I want to be that secondary scoring, be one of those guys that can be relied on heavily to produce offense,” he said.
Jost will certainly get an opportunity to be that secondary scoring as he has opened the preseason as the second line center next to Alexander Kerfoot and Martin Kaut. While lines regularly get mixed up during the season, that Jost is already being given that trust by Bednar speaks to how much the organization believes internal growth from players like Jost and Kerfoot can solve their secondary scoring issues from last year. That belief also was a driving force in the team deciding against pursuing big-money solutions on the free agent market.
Being in the locker room around this team the last week, it’s obvious there’s a genuine affection among the players. Training camp was grueling on the ice but off the ice, it felt like a bunch of classmates getting back together after summer break.
“Honestly, I couldn’t wait,” Jost said when asked if he was ready to be back in Denver. “Even during this summer a lot of us linked up and saw each other. A lot of us were at Landeskog’s wedding. Some of them came down and visited me in Kelowna for a little charity baseball tournament. It speaks volumes to how tight this team is and it’s awesome to come back to this dressing room and see everybody and see how happy everybody is to be back here playing the game we love. It almost seemed like a long summer at times just because you wanted to get back here.”
The team’s chemistry was a major factor in them maybe overachieving a little bit last year. That’s the kind of thing that can be hard to replicate but Jost feels it won’t be a problem.
“It’s already rolling right now.”