Avalanche junior prospects 2008-09 review

By John-Eric Iannicello

The Colorado Avalanche has seven prospects playing at the junior level — two forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders.  Nathan Condon is the only junior-level prospect who is playing in the USHL

OHL

Cameron Gaunce, D, 18 – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors
Acquired: 2nd round, 50th overall in 2008

Gaunce has been one of the top offensive defenders in OHL this season.  Through 67 games, Gaunce tallied 17 goals and 47 assists for 64 points and a +28, which put him fifth overall in points from a defender.  His impressive 17 goals were fourth overall in goal scoring from defenders. 

Along with an impressive offensive stat line, Gaunce hasn’t shied away from the sin bin.  Gaunce amassed 110 penalty minutes this season which is a reflection of the grit he brings to his game both defending himself and his teammates.

Gaunce is a high-character, two-way defender who plays a strong all-around game.  He was the most dominant defender on the Majors this season both offensively and defensively.  If he continues to develop his skating ability, he has a bright NHL future ahead of him. 

Kevin Montgomery, D, 20 – London Knights

Acquired: 4th round, 110th overall in 2006

The 20-year-old Montgomery started his season with the AHL Lake Erie Monsters, but he was sent back to the OHL powerhouse London Knights in early November.

Before being sent back to London, he participated in five games with the Monsters.  In those five games, Montgomery recorded one assist and two penalty minutes. 

With the Knights, Montgomery’s offensive production began to spark.  Through 46 games Montgomery only managed two goals, but put up an impressive 34 assists for 36 points. 

Montgomery has good vision from the back end and a strong first pass.  He has solid size for a defender at 6’2 but uses his stick rather than his body to take players off the puck.  Montgomery will be looked upon to provide a solid veteran presence for the highly-favored Memorial Cup contending Knights.

Trevor Cann, G, 19 – London Knights
Acquired: 2nd round, 49th overall in 2007

Cann has spent time playing for two OHL teams this season.  For his first 10 games, Cann started for the Peterborough Petes.  In those 10 games Cann posted a very strong .926 save percentage, and a respectable 3.08 goals against. 

On Nov. 7, the Knights acquired Cann from the Petes in exchange for Barron Smith, Sergei Korostin and a second-round pick in the 2010 OHL draft.  Cann was brought in as insurance for the Knights playoff push.

Though his numbers may be a bit skewed due to the team in front of him, he’s still risen to the challenge of playing on a perennial contender.  In 42 games for the Knights, Cann has an impressive 2.51 goals against, and a .917 save percentage.  He’s also recorded five shutouts, which puts him second overall in the league.  He’s ranked in the top five for goaltending stats, and averages approximately 30 shots against per game. 

Still, he may be the questionable link in an overall impressive Knights line-up.  The 19-year-old is a bit small for a goaltender at 5’11, so he’ll have to rely on his angles and reflexes in order to succeed at the higher levels. 

Cann must be signed by the Avalanche by June 1.

QMJHL


Kelsey Tessier, C, 20 – Quebec Remparts

Acquired: 4th round, 110th overall in 2008

The small offensive-minded center from the Remparts had an up and down year.  He’s been placed in different parts of the line-up from the first to the fourth line and his stats have reflected that. 

What was expected to be a very big season for Tessier has only resulted in 60 points in 64 games, which is a large drop from his team-leading 81 points a season ago.  He scored 25 goals and 35 assists, which was good for fourth overall in team scoring. 

His one obvious flaw is his size at 5’9.  Even with the NHL more open to small forwards, it’s an uphill battle for someone like Tessier.  He oozes character and determination which should get him far in his career wherever he plays.

Tessier will be expected to provide strong offensive support for the Remparts as they make their playoff run.

Joel Chouinard, D, 18 – Victoriaville Tigers

Acquired: 6th round, 167th overall in 2008

Chouinard was well worth the late-round selection the Avalanche used on him in the 2008 draft.  Chouinard compares his style to New York Islander defenseman Bruno Gervais.  He possesses a strong offensive game from the back end and a good frame at 6’1 and approximately 185 lbs.

Chouinard was the leading scorer for Tiger defenders with 12 goals and 23 assists.  He also finished in the top 15 in goals by defenders.

Chouinard is a long-term prospect for the Avalanche but he has a good set of offensive tools that may land him a job as a bottom-pairing puck-moving defender in the future.  He needs to continue rounding out his overall game and also adding some more strength to his frame. 

Peter Delmas, G, 19 – Lewiston MAINEiacs

Acquired: 2nd round, 61st overall in 2008

Delmas has had an unremarkable year.  He ranks last in all goaltending categories for goalies who have played over 30 games.  In 38 games, he posted 4.19 goals against and a .867 save percentage.  Lewiston is one of the worst teams in the QMJHL, but that’s no excuse for Delmas’s performance as a whole.  He’s been pulled multiple times, and his save percentage is dismal for a goaltender of his skill.  Delmas was a highly touted, yet inconsistent goaltender taken in the second round of the 2008 draft and the Avalanche will surely take their time with him. 

For all of his faults this season, he is 6’3 and has and the technical ability to be a legit starting goalie in the NHL.  He needs to use his size to his advantage more consistently to help him raise his level of play.  Rebound control is still an area of concern that Delmas continues to work on. 

He’s an interesting prospect going forward, and next year should be a huge test for him to see how he rebounds from this rough season. 

USHL

Nathan Condon, C, 18 – Fargo Force
Acquired: 7th round, 200th overall in 2008

Condon joined the Fargo Force a year later than scheduled when he opted to return back to help win a championship with his high school team Wausau.
   
Condon was an elite scorer in high school but his offensive game hasn’t exactly translated to the USHL this season.  In 53 games, Condon has scored 11 goals and assisted on 14 others while adding 25 penalty minutes.  He is sixth in team scoring for Fargo.

Condon is a pure offensive player with good skating ability and size.  He still requires work on his overall game in both zones, and use the players around him more.  He’s committed to the University of Minnesota for next season.
   
Fargo has clinched a playoff spot, and currently stands second in the West Division.