It’s been quite a while since we’ve taken a look at how Colorado Avalanche prospects have played. I’ll be taking over prospect reports here at MHH for the foreseeable future, so this should be fun. Since there hasn’t been an update so far this season, here’s a quick summary of what you need to know.
Of the 13 prospects below, eight of them are playing NCAA hockey this season (three of them with Notre Dame). There are less Avalanche prospects in the CHL this season (two) than there are playing in Europe (three). Finally, with World Juniors camps opening this week, there are four players who were named to selection camp rosters for their respective countries. Fingers crossed that they all make it!
Ontario Hockey League
#17 – Brandon Saigeon (C)
Hamilton Bulldogs (15-14-2)
Saigeon returned to the OHL for his overage season after being cut from Colorado’s training camp without a professional contract. It was undoubtedly the best move for Saigeon, as the OHL champion has racked up points on a struggling Bulldogs team to put him 5th in the league in scoring. With 52 points in 31 games, Saigeon in on pace to shatter career bests and break the 100-point barrier for the first time.
Western Hockey League
Like Saigeon, Henry has finally found his offensive touch this season. He began the season with the Regina Pats before being traded to Lethbridge, and sits 8th among WHL scoring leaders. While Henry was a bit of a surprising omission from Canada’s World Juniors camp (just my opinion), he’ll certainly get an opportunity to climb further up the scoring lead while Cody Glass and (scoring leader) Brett Leason dress for Team Canada.
#16 – Cale Makar (D)
UMass Amherst Minutemen (14-2-0)
Makar has flourished in his second season of college hockey. Makar’s 19 points in 16 games puts him second in Hockey East scoring, and the lead in scoring among defensemen. UMass leads all teams in the conference with their 14-2-0 record and Makar has been a steady presence on the back end. Being named an alternate captain of the Minutemen in his sophomore season is a huge testament to Makar’s leadership skills.
#15 – Shane Bowers (C)
Boston University Terriers (5-8-2)
It’s been a rough season for the Terriers, but Bowers has shined. He may be off to a slower offensive start than last season, but his only shorthanded goal came as the OT winner against New Hampshire back in November. BU will play one more game before the holiday break, but Bowers will be in Victoria with Team Canada at their World Juniors selection camp. Canada is already extremely deep at forward and down the middle, but Bowers could play his way onto the team with a strong showing in camp.
#26 – Cam Morrison (LW)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-1)
Morrison’s career high in points came two seasons ago with 24. With 12 points in 14 games so far this season, he’s already halfway there with two thirds of the season still to go. Notre Dame is tied with Penn State for the Big 10 conference lead. After splitting back to back games against their conference rivals this past weekend, neither team looks like they’ll be relinquishing their first place position anytime soon. The Irish won the first game 5-4, but Penn State cruised to a 9-1 victory the next night (Morrison had the lone goal for Notre Dame).
#4 – Nick Leivermann (D)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-1)
Another one of the three Avs prospects who play at Notre Dame, but unlike Morrison, Leivermann only has one point this season. However, the NCAA is a huge jump in competition compared to Junior A in Canada. Morrison finished with 37 points in 43 games in Penticton last season and has the potential to add to Notre Dame’s strong offense once he fully adjusts to the league.
#2 – Nate Clurman (D)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (11-5-1)
Like Leivermann, this is Clurman’s first season in the NCAA, but he made the jump from the USHL instead. The defenseman hasn’t been very noticeable this season with just one point in 17 games, but playing on a strong team allows him to adjust more naturally. Clurman is not really known as an offensive defenseman, but he is a strong, intelligent skater with confident puck-handling ability, and not easily rattled on the ice. It shouldn’t take him long to get fully settled into college hockey.
#58 – Sampo Ranta (RW)
Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-6-4)
The Gophers have had an up-and-down season, but they did manage to end the first half of their year with a win over Michigan on Saturday. It’s Ranta’s first season in college hockey, and his seven points in 15 games is a solid offensive start to his NCAA career. While his teammates get two weeks off to rest, Ranta will be off representing Finland at the World Juniors in Victoria. Finland only named 12 players to their preliminary roster, so there shouldn’t be any cuts up front. Avs fans should get a great look at Ranta’s speed and skill during the holidays.
#25 – Denis Smirnov (RW)
Penn State Nittany Lions (11-5-1)
The Penn State junior is playing for one of the best teams in the Big 10 conference. The Lions lead the entire NCAA in goals scored and closed out the last game of the first half of the season by scoring nine unanswered goals against Notre Dame. Smirnov only contributed one assist, but he does have ten points this season. Although his point totals are nowhere near the lead for the team, Smirnov plays more of a depth role for the Lions and will be a big part of their depth as Penn State pushes for a national championship.
#40 – Tyler Weiss (LW)
Nebraska Omaha Mavericks (4-10-2)
There’s really not much to say here. Omaha is the only school with a losing record in the NCHC and the only team with double digit losses in the conference. As a freshman, Weiss has only played six games for the Mavericks this season, and is still struggling to find his game in limited playing time. Hopefully the new year gives Weiss the fresh start he needs to adapt to college hockey.
#51 – Nikolai Kovalenko (RW)
KHL – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (23-12-3)
Kovalenko is a 19-year old playing in his first full season in the KHL, so five points in 24 games isn’t that bad. This is Kovalenko’s season to adjust to professional men’s hockey, and we may not see him put up the point totals he did in the MHL right away. He’ll get an even larger opportunity to showcase his elite playmaking talents at the World Juniors with Russia, should he make the team. He wasn’t played in the Canada-Russia series last month, but Russia typically brings their junior B and C players, instead of prospects playing in the KHL. Russia will need to make five cuts up front, but hopefully, Kovalenko won’t be one of them.
#2 – Danila Zhuravlyov (D)
VHL – Bars Kazan (14-13-6)
There are zeros across Zhuravlyov’s stat line in 24 games in the VHL so far this season, but his previous experience and success representing Russia internationally is likely what landed him a spot on the country’s selection camp roster for the World Juniors. Zhuravlyov’s chances to make the team aren’t as strong as Kovalenko’s, but a solid performance at camp (and a little help from his competition) should do the trick.
#19 – Gustav Olhaver (RW)
Allsvenskan (SWE) – Tingsryds AIF (9-13-5)
Olhaver’s playing in his second season in Allsvenskan, the league with the second-highest level of competition in Sweden. Unfortunately, Tingsyrds is second-last in the league, which doesn’t provide the most conducive learning environment for a young player adjusting to professional hockey. The 6’6 forward has the tools to be a productive power forward, but his offensive production is sporadic and inconsistent. If the NHL is Olhaver’s goal, he’ll have to get his offense going in Sweden this season.
Avalanche Prospect Stats
|Cam Morrison||Notre Dame||LW||14||6||6||12|
|Nate Clurman||Notre Dame||D||17||0||1||1|
|Nick Leivermann||Notre Dame||D||10||0||1||1|
|Shane Bowers||Boston University||C||15||5||3||8|
|Denis Smirnov||Penn State||W||15||4||6||10|
|Brandon Saigeon||Hamilton Bulldogs||C||31||21||31||52|
|Nick Henry||Lethbridge Hurricanes||RW||31||15||29||44|
|Nikolai Kovalenko||Lokomotiv Yaroslava (KHL)||RW||24||4||1||5|
|Danila Zhuravlyov||Bars Kazan (VHL)||D||21||0||0||0|
|Gustav Olhaver||Tingsryds AIF (Allsvenskan)||C||26||3||3||6|