The Colorado Avalanche pool of rookies is one to envy. Recent drafts have stocked the farm with top-notch talent. They already have a strong roster heading into the 2019-20 season, but rookie production can often be the difference between bringing home a Stanley Cup and falling short. Colorado is no different, but who are the main rookies to watch this season? Note: These players meet the strictest definition of “rookie” and have not appeared in an NHL regular season game.
Colorado Avalanche Rookies to Watch
Cale Makar debuted in the 2019 playoffs, but 2019-20 will be his first regular season. He electrified fans with six points in 10 playoff games. The former first-round pick from 2017 has a tremendous ceiling from the very beginning of his career.
Makar possesses top-notch puckhandling and skating abilities. Those skills were on full display in the playoffs as Makar kept the puck safe from the Calgary Flames. The Hobey Baker Award winner will likely start the season on the team’s second defensive pairing while also quarterbacking the first power-play unit. He is a big reason why the team’s defence is rated so highly for the upcoming season. The former University of Massachusetts product may not be the most imposing defender at just 5 feet, 11 inches but that won’t matter as much with his offensive skills.
Bowen Byram was Colorado’s first pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The six-foot tall defender is at the top of the team’s prospect rankings along with Makar. He dominated the competition in 2018-19 playing with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.
Byram’s skill set is very similar to Makar’s. The fourth overall pick in this year’s draft is a great skater and can lead the rush. He also has great offensive instincts and can be a superior scoring option from the point. Byram could make the roster with a strong training camp; there could be two openings on defence with Ian Cole and Erik Johnson out recovering from hip and shoulder surgery, respectively. Otherwise, Byram will get some extra seasoning in the WHL with a chance to debut later this year or next.
Martin Kaut was the Avs’ first pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He had a subpar 26 points in 63 AHL games with the Colorado Eagles, but is still one of the team’s better forward prospects. Kaut will start the season with the AHL affiliate but could come up mid-season should injuries strike Colorado’s forwards.
The six-foot, two inch tall wing possesses the mentality of a pure goal scorer. He is a sniper with a good wrist shot, but can also operate in front of the net with his size. Kaut can operate from multiple distances and angles on offence but needs to refine his physical game and get more used to being checked. Look for a 2020 debut if he doesn’t see NHL ice this season.
Nicholas Meloche has played with the organization for the past two years and starting to look ready for some NHL time. He was originally drafted in the second round of the 2015 Draft.
Meloche has a lot of strong points. He is 6’3″, his offence is approving and is a strong checker. He improved from 17 points in 58 games in 2017-18 to 21 points in 55 games in 2018-19. The 22-year-old has enough skills to make a run at a roster spot. However, there are mixed reports on his ultimate skating ability. Meloche is very close to the NHL but might start on the AHL’s team first defensive pairing.
There are fewer rookies more mysterious than Conor Timmins. He was selected the round after Makar in 2017 but missed last season due to recovery from a concussion. Timmons is going to start in the AHL this season due to that lost development time.
The 6’2″ Timmins remains one of the organization’s better prospects despite that time away from the game. He is a solid all-around player should be able to do everything the other top rookies can on offence. He can also defend at a high level with his size and skating ability. His ceiling is that of a second-pairing defender. While Timmins is extremely difficult to project due to the concussion and recovery time, he is also a rookie to watch this season in case of extreme injury to the blue line.
It would be highly unlikely to see Adam Werner in an NHL game this year. He is still just 22-years-old and has yet to play a game for a team outside of North America. His career has been spent in Sweden to this point but is the strongest true rookie netminder in the Colorado system. He has a solid 6’5″ frame and a calm attitude which are both good attributes for a young goalie.
Werner posted a .920 save percentage last season overseas and was one of the better goaltenders in his league. He will likely split starts with former Arizona Coyotes prospect Hunter Miska until one of them proves they are the better option. Werner could sneak into the NHL this season given that the Avs have almost no experienced goaltender below the NHL level; Miska has one whole game to his credit.
DENVER, CO – APRIL 15: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (8) takes a shot during a Western Conference match-up in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 15, 2019 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. (Photo by Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)