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What Vladislav Kamenev's injury means moving forward

AJ Haefele Avatar
December 10, 2018

Injuries have already played a key role to this point in the season for the Avalanche as a string of concussions went through the organization like a flu virus but Monday morning’s practice brought the worst news so far this year. Avalanche forward Vladislav Kamenev was injured during Saturday night’s blowout loss in Tampa Bay and didn’t return to the game and the team had no update on his status.

Until today.

Kamenev is now out indefinitely as he is set to have shoulder surgery and head coach Jared Bednar said he could potentially be done for the season. While there were other injury updates (Alexander Kerfoot has an undisclosed injury that we’ll learn more about tomorrow, Mark Barberio is working his way back but remains without a timeline, Conor Timmins is still out indefinitely with a concussion), the Kamenev injury could have a serious ripple effect not only on this year’s roster but his immediate future.

Acquired in the Sam Girard trade last November, Kamenev was expected to eventually compete for a job in Colorado’s top six. He got hurt in his first game in an Avalanche sweater last year and missed most of the rest of year, only briefly returning to make a cameo appearance before the coaching staff decided to essentially shut him down for the year while they chased the final playoff spot.

Coming into this year, Kamenev needed to prove himself capable of playing in the NHL at NHL speed. It’s been rocky at times with Bednar calling him out for being too passive during the preseason and early weeks of the year. Slowly, though, Kamenev worked his way into more minutes and saw occasional action on both special team units. His ability to win faceoffs had become an important part of Bednar’s comfort trying him out in late-game situations.

It was a slow climb for him but Kamenev (just five points in 23 games but his average of 9:02 TOI was slowly on the rise) had really started to carve out a growing role on this team and now another fluke hit has cost him an opportunity to really solidify himself as part of this team moving forward.

What makes this such a tenuous situation, especially if Kamenev does indeed miss the rest of the season, is the depth Colorado has built beyond the NHL roster.

Dominic Toninato spent most of last year with the Avalanche and while his production wasn’t great, there’s familiarity there with him as the center of the fourth line. Toninato has scored six points (3g, 3a) in 16 games with the Colorado Eagles this year and he could be the guy they give a call too.

JC Beaudin, another Eagle, is in his second professional season and is fifth on the team in scoring with 11 points (5g, 6a) in 21 games played and could be pushing for an NHL look by next season. As a crafty center, he could be a darkhorse for the Avalanche this year if the team thinks he’s ready. It’s unlikely but as guys start to produce in the AHL like Beaudin has, the more they put themselves on the NHL’s radar.

But the real concern for Kamenev’s long-term future is the presence of Shane Bowers, the 2017 first-round selection of Ottawa also acquired in the Girard trade. He’s in his sophomore season at Boston University and while his numbers¬†(eight points in 15 games so far) aren’t exceptional, he’s expected to sign with the Avalanche in the spring and make a strong push for next year’s NHL roster. Bowers is exactly the kind of strong two-way player who poses a major threat to Kamenev’s long-term job security with Carl Soderberg proving himself indispensable at the moment.

There’s also the possibility Colorado acquires another center either in free agency or with one of their two first-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft, which will only serve to muddy the waters for Kamenev moving forward.

For the present, and depending on the severity of whatever is wrong with Kerfoot, the Avalanche might best be served to give the call-up to A.J. Greer, who is tearing it up with the Eagles this season (21 points in 20 games!) and clearly is ready to make the jump to the NHL. Greer isn’t a center, though, so despite being the most deserving player to call-up, the Kamenev injury would only mean Greer is fighting with ice time for incumbents such as Gabe Bourque and Sven Andrighetto.

Another name to consider is Sheldon Dries, who has already played in 15 games for the Avalanche this year. Dries, however, has been hurt the last two weeks and even though he just back into a regular jersey for the Eagles today, his injury may cost him a chance at being the guy in this spot.

The Avalanche will make the call on how to approach this situation this afternoon but it’s safe to say this was exactly the kind of break Kamenev was not looking for…again. (The Avalanche recalled Greer shortly this post went up)

Since several people had already bailed on the blowout, here’s video of the Kamenev injury (it’s not gruesome), courtesy of Nathan Rudolph (@AvalancheReview on Twitter).

 

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