Colorado Avalanche Black Aces

Colorado Avalanche Black Aces
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 25: Malcolm Subban #30 of the Vegas Golden Knights blocks a shot by Martin Kaut #61 of the Colorado Avalanche in the third period of their preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on September 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Avalanche defeated the Golden Knights 4-1. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche will have some decisions to make. They were playing well before the shutdown despite several injuries but we are nearing a return to play. A Stanley Cup run is only feasible if the supporting cast is ready to help the team’s stars. That means the Colorado Avalanche Black Aces will need to be ready to go alongside the regular skaters.

Who are the Colorado Avalanche Black Aces?

For this article, a Black Ace is a player that the Avalanche will be including in their expanded Stanley Cup Playoff roster. A Black Ace wouldn’t regularly have featured in the standard roster and therefore is most likely a minor/junior league call-up.

The term “Black Ace” was once used negatively. The term originated from Eddie Shore, who would refer to spare players as a “Black Ace.” Shore would say that a team would be in bad shape if they had to use one of their Black Aces in a game. However, recently, it has been used more positively. A team would use a Black Ace to help them overcome the loss of a player or if they thought a different player could be utilized in a way to help the team win

Forward Options

Jayson Megna

There is a strong chance that Jayson Megna is one of Colorado’s black aces. He played in eight games earlier this season but did not score a point. Most of his damage came in the AHL where the six-year veteran had 18 goals and 34 points. Megna isn’t a dynamic option at 30-years-old but he has over 100 games of NHL experience. He would be a respectable physical presence on the Avalanche penalty kill if someone else gets hurt.

Martin Kaut

Martin Kaut was playing right up until play ceased but the return of more experienced players pushes the 20-year-old Czech wing down the depth chart. Kaut scored two goals and three points in nine games before hockey stopped. He was also credited with nine hits. One more game would burn a year of his entry-level deal so they might keep him practicing as an ace without burning that year in the playoff format. Everyone should be healthy enough to let Kaut focus on practice and development.

T.J.Tynan

T.J. Tynan has seen action in 16 games so far this year. The veteran AHL skater has just one assist for the Avs in 2019-20 but he did score five goals and 47 points in 42 games for the team’s lower affiliate. Tynan wouldn’t be a scoring threat but he could be an intriguing playmaker for the fourth line. His passing ability has been excellent throughout his career in AHL.

Logan O’Connor

Logan O’Connor only had two goals in 16 games in 2019-20 but he is one of the more fun options Colorado could use as one of its aces. He is an excellent skater with energy and the ability to help support a rush. O’Connor scored 12 goals and 25 points in 40 AHL games this year but he will primarily be a penalty killer at the NHL level if Colorado uses him.

Shane Bowers

Shane Bowers was playing well for the Avs’ AHL affiliate when play stopped. The former first-round pick is one of the team’s best centre prospects. He scored 10 goals and 27 points in 48 AHL games before play ceased. Bowers isn’t yet the most consistent player and the shutdown cut short his recent strong play but he would be an option if one of Colorado’s veterans gets hurt again when play resumes. The Avalanche have struggled to find a consistent fourth line centre at times.

Defenceman Options

Mark Barberio

29-year-old Mark Barberio has been a reserve defenceman for most of his time with Colorado. He has two assists in 21 games in 2019-20. He only has six goals and 25 points in 113 games as an Avalanche but he knows the system well. The team could use Barberio as a respectable penalty killer if he appears in a game during the upcoming restart.

Kevin Connauton

Kevin Connauton has made almost no impact since joining Colorado last summer. The 29-year-old defender has just four games at the NHL level in the 2019-20 season. He does have five goals and 27 points in 38 AHL games but that isn’t good enough for a player with over 300 NHL games to his credit. However, Connauton is a big, experienced defender that can chip in on the penalty kill.

Conor Timmins

Conor Timmins played in only two games this season with no points but he displayed excellent poise. However, he is one of the team’s best prospects on defence and should be a quality top-four blueliner as soon as 2020-21. Timmons scored three goals and 24 points for the Avs’ AHL affiliate but he will only be an NHL option if another blueliner gets hurt. His recovery from a concussion makes him an especially interesting black ace.

Bowen Byram

Bowen Byram will be the highest-profile Avs reserve when play resumes. Colorado selected Byram fourth overall in the 2019 Draft. He followed up a fantastic 2018-19 season with a solid 2019-20. Byram is the top defender in the system. He is capable of doing almost everything that star defenders Samuel Girard and Cale Makar can do. He scored 14 goals and 52 points in 50 games for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. That is lower than his 26 goals and 71 points in 67 games but his team wasn’t as good this season. The pandemic also ended things prematurely. Makar had an electric debut in the 2018-19 playoffs; Byram could have a similar impact coming up as an ace.

Goalie Options

Michael Hutchinson

The team acquired Michael Hutchinson from the Toronto Maple Leafs around the trade deadline as additional goalie insurance. He is far from the most exciting option but he is still the organization’s best goaltender behind Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz. Hutchinson has appeared in one game since joining Colorado. He posted a .944 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against-average in a victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Otherwise, he has a .888 save percentage and 3.47 goals-against in 2019-20. It will take an injury to the starting duo for Hutchinson to play meaningful hockey again this year.

Main Photo:
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