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It's rookie camp eve and the prospects are stirring

Meghan Angley Avatar
September 15, 2022

Starting this Friday, the San Jose Sharks will host four teams from the Pacific Division (Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vegas) and two from the Central Division (Arizona and Colorado) in a series of games to showcase the prospects.

To kick off rookie camp, the Avs will practice this Thursday at Family Sports before departing for San Jose. Colorado announced 27 players who will attend the tournament in a group made up of 16 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders.

Understandably, no NCAA prospects will be in attendance due to their academic calendars, so the mix is an intriguing blend of drafted Avalanche prospects, guys on AHL contracts, and 12 camp invites. The group will compete in 3 games and the schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 15                                                

Rookie practice at Family Sports – 10:30 a.m. MT

Media availability following practice

Rookies depart for San Jose                                     

Friday, Sept. 16                                                    

Rookie Tournament Game vs. Los Angeles – 3 p.m. MT

(Tech CU Arena)

Saturday, Sept. 17

Rookie Tournament Game at San Jose – 8 p.m. MT

(Tech CU Arena)

Sunday, Sept. 18

Rookie practice – 11:30 a.m. MT

Gray Rink

Monday, Sept. 19

Rookie Tournament Game at Arizona – 11 a.m. MT

(Tech CU Arena)

Rookies return to Denver

As described in the first prospect piece, you can expect to see top prospects like Oskar Olausson, Justus Annunen, Sampo Ranta, and Ben Meyers. There are additional invites to keep an eye on – many who will get looks since the showcase is designed to feature some of the younger, greener players.

Alex Beaucage

21-year-old RW Alex Beaucage is returning to the Colorado Eagles for his sophomore season in the AHL. The 2019 3rd round pick made his pro debut last season and the scoring upside observed in his QMJHL days (over a point per game player through 3 seasons) took a hit after a quieter 12 points, 4 goals in 40 games.

Notably, he missed a significant amount of time (21 games) with a neck injury after a scary hit in a game against Henderson on January 29th. He returned in late March and earned 5 points in 8 playoff games during the postseason. You can see how he began to find his production in the race for the Calder Cup. He assumed a 3rd line role for the Eagles and a place on the second powerplay unit.

Eagles head coach, Greg Cronin, has described him as a goalscorer and expects him to create high-danger opportunities at the inner thirds of the ice. This will be the area of growth for him next year: finding ways to translate his ability to score goals from anywhere from junior to pro play, especially on the powerplay (Beaucage played on PP2). It’s no small feat, and the Eagles’ forward group is looking a little crowded. He will have to forge his own path and solidify a rightful place in the lineup. Now with a clean bill of health, keep an eye on Beaucage in this tournament. With hungry young guns like RW Tarun Fizer also in attendance, there are hints of competition.

Tarun Fizer

As mentioned, Tarun Fizer is another interesting forward to watch. A 2001 player like Beaucage, he made his pro debut with the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL for their playoff run last year. He wrapped up his last year of juniors with 51 points in 35 games as captain of the Victoria Royals in the WHL and reported to Utah for their postseason. He showed up as a key-assist guy for the Grizzlies with 15 points in 18 games.

Before his final junior season after remaining undrafted in June, the Avs reached out about an ATO. He participated in the Avs rookie camp last September and experienced a UBI in the last game; he ultimately returned to the WHL after. This will be another chance, now with some pro experience under his belt, to make a case for a fit in Loveland. He attended Colorado’s development camp in July and stood out as a great skater with a knack for finding instant chemistry with the other forwards. He signed a 1-year, two-way AHL contract this summer and hopes to make the Eagles roster.

Jean-Luc Foudy

Another RW (with C capabilities), is Jean-Luc Foudy. He is a fun one to watch in this tournament for a few reasons. He had a unique opportunity to make the leap to pro at 18. Now 20 years old, he has two AHL seasons to his name. He had a strong second year with the Eagles too. He went from being a healthy scratch in early March to goals in back-to-back games shortly after. Cronin described him as a perimeter player and hoped he could get Foudy to get to the more dangerous areas. 

He missed just 3 games this year and finished with 26 points in 65 games, but it’s in the playoffs where he really shined. He improved his puck distribution, playing between the dots and at the netfront, and generally becoming a key contributor for the Eagles at critical moments with two overtime-winning goals and among the team leaders with 7 points in 9 games. 

It’s Foudy’s skating that remains his strength, so goals for next season probably entail getting more reliable defensively and retaining a middle-top 6 role with the Eagles. With some primary players from last year’s PP1 gone, I’d also count on him vying for a promotion from PP2 to the top unit.

Ben Tardif

On an AHL contract for next season, 22-year-old Ben Tardif made his pro debut and spent a full season with the Grizzlies last year. He began the season with the Eagles, but went without a point in 15 games and was reassigned to Utah. There he had a nice split of 20 goals, 39 points in 53 games. The 5’10”, 195 lbs. LW played on a productive line alongside Tarun Fizer in the Grizzlies’ playoff run – earning 30 points in 18 games.

He was another development camp invite this past July who impressed. With considerably more pro experience than other players at camp, he stood out as a more advanced player with a powerful wrist shot, smart stick checks, good passing, and strong skating.

Connor McClennon

McClennon had a breakout year with the Winnipeg Ice of the WHL last season (81 pts., 43 G, 38 A in 62 games). He led the league in goals at 12th place and continued to generate offense in the playoffs with 21 points in 15 games. He was originally picked up in the 6th round of the 2020 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

In June, the Flyers did not offer him an ELC and relinquished his rights. After, the 20-year-old received a development camp invite from the Colorado Avalanche and impressed in the Burgundy-White scrimmage in particular. At 5’8″ 161 lbs. his size presents some questions, but in examining his overall game he comes to the tournament with an intriguing package: high volume goal scoring, good hands, and finishing ability at least at the WHL level.

Daniil Zhuravlyov

Is Colorado’s pool of defensive prospects as shallow as it appears or can Zhuravlyov be a player? He was drafted in the 5th round by Colorado in 2018. the 22-year-old LHD spent last season with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL with 6 points in 43 games played, but it’s not his offensive upside that caught Colorado’s attention. He won silver with Team Russia in the 2020 WJC’s and bronze the year before it. He was named rookie of the month in his KHL debut after making an impression.

He is described as a shutdown defenseman who can act as a stabilizing and reliable force on the blueline. He has earned valuable pro experience through the KHL playing among men, so he should have a slight leg up on most. He’s 6’0″ 163 lbs., so you hope that he’s the right middle ground of strong but light enough on his skates to be a mobile skater. Leaving Ak Bars Kazan to play in North America is a big leap for this Russian-born player.

He also attended the Avs development camp in July and did not jump off the page during drills throughout the week. He did however look comfortable in the 4v4 scrimmage which can hopefully translate to his gameplay in the upcoming tournament as he begins to find his bearings on NA ice.

Trent Miner

Sometimes I forget that goaltender Trent Miner is only 21 years old. This 2019 7th round pick is an understated addition for Colorado given the time of his selection and the value he has brought to the Utah Grizzlies as well as the Colorado Eagles in a short time. He played his first, full pro season last year with a 0.899 SV% through 5 games with the Eagles and 0.910 SV% through 28 games with the Grizzlies. He had a terrific run with Utah in the playoffs earning a 0.920 SV% and keeping them competitive.

Miner was called up to the Eagles last February in relief of Annunen who was out sick. Miner and Hunter Miska shared the games and Miner made 33 of 34 saves in an impressive 8-1 win over Tucson. It was a nice glimpse at the relief capabilities Miner could have when called upon. Though Justus Annunen is being primed for the starting position with the Eagles, this tournament will be a nice chance for Miner to continue to build a case for himself to play at the AHL level.

There are even more new faces to watch this weekend – the latest drafted Avs goalie from this summer (who did not attend development camp in July due to visa issues) Ivan Zhigalov, a 33-goal scorer out of the WHL who was at dev camp: Gabe Klassen, and former Minnesota State captain: LHD Wyatt Aamodt who played 3 games with the Eagles after his college season last year. In conclusion, we’re just going to have to watch them all.

The games will be available by stream at https://www.nhl.com/avalanche.


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