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Top 25 Avalanche Under 25: #14 Andrew Agozzino

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May 14, 2015

 

This week, we’ve taken a look at #15 Mason Geertsen, #16 Jordan Caron, and #17 Spencer Martin. Today we turn to a familiar face around Avalanche nation.

#14 on our list is Andrew Agozzino, a crafty forward whose size belies his attitude. While only coming in at 5’10” and 187 pounds, Agozzino plays with an edge equal to that of guys much bigger than he. He’s even known to drop the gloves if necessary, though his skill lies in his intelligence, mobility and hands.

Andrew Agozzino is one of those rare gems that slipped through the draft without any of the 30 teams recognizing his skill. His small stature caused the teams to overlook the Canadian left winger, but he crafted for himself a spot within professional hockey by first setting franchise career records for the Niagara Ice Dogs in goals (159), assists (147), points (306), and games (316).

That’s when the Colorado Avalanche stepped in. Agozzino was signed to a one-year deal with the organization’s AHL affiliate at the time, the Lake Erie Monsters. His performance moved him from a checking line role to start the season to one of the Monsters’ top scoring forwards, making the AHL All-Star squad in his first professional season. Subsequently, he earned himself a two-year entry level contract with the Avs.

Why is this background information important? To really know who Agozzino is, you have to know how he got here. He epitomizes the type of player Avalanche coach Patrick Roy loves: huge heart, great leadership, never-say-die attitude. The best thing about Aggz, though, is he has the skill to go along with it.

The forward’s biggest strength is his prolific scoring. Last season, he racked up 64 points (30g, 34a) in the AHL and knotted an assist in his only NHL game. He’s equally a playmaker and finisher, mostly due to his vision on the ice. Agozzino thinks quickly and can stickhandle a puck through the opposition, using his speed and puck control to create scoring opportunities for both himself and his linemates.

Don’t think that Aggozino is all offense, though. His hockey IQ is such that he’s an asset defensively, too, able to break up plays and spark a transition to offense. He’s responsible and reliable on the back end, making him a valuable two-way player.

So, if he’s so talented, why is he still in the AHL? This is where his size comes in. If he was even just 2” taller and 15 pounds heavier, chances are that you’d see a top-six forward in Agozzino. As it is, he needs to carve himself a spot on the third line of an NHL club so that both his offensive talent and defensive responsibility can be best utilized.

This highlight reel shows the complete game of Aggz: a goal, an assist, and a bit of good old fashioned face-rubbing.

What is the future for Andrew Agozzino?

Agozzino is one of the players that, despite a rash of injuries on the Avalanche, wasn’t utilized by the parent club but for one game, leaving fans understandably confused. He has dominated in the AHL and deserves a shot in the NHL. There’s some competition for him, of course, but his skill set would be a great addition to Colorado’s bottom six. His diminutive stature might seem to work against him, but he plays a game that elevates the offensive output of his linemates so much that he’s very likely to get more consideration this season.

He has something to prove at training camp, but it’s within his reach to force the team’s hand to keep him in Denver. While he only played one game, he did not look out of place last season, earning his first NHL point in the process.

Working against him are the players the Avs have on the left: captain Gabriel Landeskog, veteran Alex Tanguay, versatile Jamie McGinn and coach-favorite Cody McLeod, not to mention enforcer Patrick Bordeleau. If Agozzino can make a transition to right wing, he’d be in a better position to make the roster. Otherwise, he has to unseat McGinn for that third line spot, a hard proposition without an injury.

Most likely we’ll see Agozzino playing top minutes with the San Antonio Rampage to start the season, but it’s likely he’ll be an early call up when the inevitable injuries hit.

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