Colorado Avalanche 2002-03 College Prospect Review

By Angelique Murray

The 2002-03 season of Colorado Avalanche college prospects
featured three graduating seniors, a Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist, and
an exciting new freshman. Below is a review of each prospect’s season,
in alphabetical order, as well as the outlook for next year.

Chris Bahen: 
Clarkson (ECAC), D, senior.

Graduating senior Chris Bahen was an assistant captain this
season for Clarkson.  He was fifth
on the team in scoring this year with three goals and 17 assists. 
His efforts helped the Golden Knights become one of the better defensive
teams in the ECAC.  The Ontario
native is reliable defender and has shown the ability to clear the defensive
zone effectively with quick outlet passes. 
He is a very good skater, solid puck handler, and a good special teams
player.  Bahen was a recipient of
the Paul J. Pilson award, which is presented to the senior player who displays
excellence in both education and hockey. 
Bahen should be a participant in Colorado’s training camp in the late
summer.  As of yet, Bahen has not
come to terms with the Avalanche, but it’s likely he has a future with the organization
starting at the AHL/ECHL level.

Taylor Christie: 
Bowling Green (CCHA), D, sophomore.

Christie played in 36 games for the Bowling Green Falcons,
finishing with one assist.  What
Christie lacks in offense, he makes it up in defense. 
He is the definition of a stay at home defenseman and uses his 6-3, 210lb
frame to his advantage.  He does
his best to keep himself in position. 
One thing is for certain, the Colorado Avalanche are attracted to players
who have played for Bowling Green; defensemen Rob Blake and Greg de Vries both
played for the university.  Christie
will return to Bowling Green for his junior season.

Sean Collins: 
New Hampshire (HE), LW, sophomore.

Collins finished fourth on the team in scoring with 30 points
including 22 goals.  While Collins
5-9, 178lb frame can survive on the Olympic-sized ice in New Hampshire, there
are still questions as to whether his game will excel on the NHL level. 
Collins is a solid two-way player and is used often both on the PP and
PK by the Wildcats.  He has wonderful
offensive instincts and a nose for the net. 
Collins doesn’t play a physical game, but his speed and wrist shot are
his strongest assets.  Collins looks
to continue to be a major cog in the New Hampshire machine going into his junior
season in the fall.

Brian Fahey: 
Wisconsin (WCHA), D, senior.

Fahey’s career as a Badger finished with a thud as Wisconsin
struggled in the WCHA in the 02-03 season. 
The Illinois native had nine points in 39 games this year; finishing
with 43 in his collegiate career.  Fahey
is a solid all around defenseman.  He
is a strong, aggressive checker.  Fahey
is a good skater with decent passing ability and can be very effective on the
PK.  Like Bahen, he should be a
participant in Colorado’s training camp in September. 
Fahey has not signed a contract with the Avalanche at this time, but
it’s likely he will and begin his pro career with the AHL Hershey Bears in the
2003-04 season.

Jeff Finger: 
St Cloud State (WCHA), D, junior.

Finger was an assistant captain for the Huskies this year. 
While he isn’t blessed with enormous talent, he does play with a big
heart.  He loves giving the big hits and while he is defensively sound,
he does tend to be undisciplined at times. 
Finger can be used on both the PK and on the point on the PP. 
He projects an immense physical presence and could make it as a solid
fifth or sixth defenseman on many NHL teams. 
There is a strong possibility Finger will forgo his senior season and
turn pro. 

Tom Gilbert: 
Wisconsin (WCHA), D, freshman.

Gilbert turned out to be a pleasant surprise for a down Wisconsin
team this season. He finished third on the team in scoring with 20 points (39
games).  Gilbert embraces physical
play.  He is solid in the defensive
zone, but his overall defensive play could use some improvement. 
His strength last year was his offensive play, but Gilbert’s overall
game will get better as his collegiate career progresses. 
Gilbert should be a featured top four defenseman for Wisconsin next year. 
He was the recipient of the Dr Joseph Coyne Most Consistent Player Award.

John-Michael Liles: 
Michigan State (CCHA), D, senior.

Liles enjoyed a banner season and was selected as one of
the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.  Liles was second in NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey in points
scored by a defenseman (50 in 39 games). 
He has drawn comparisons to New Jersey Devils defenseman Brian Rafalski;
though it’s a stretch he will produce the same numbers at the NHL level. 
Liles strength is his offense; while not being a very physical player,
he is quite defensively sound.  Liles
has the ability to quarterback a power play. 
He has already signed a multiyear contract with the Avalanche and has
played in five regular and post-season games for the Avs AHL affiliate in Hershey. 
It’s likely Liles will begin the 2003-04 season with the Bears.

Eric Lundberg: 
Providence (HE), D, sophomore.

Lundberg is a prototypical defensive defenseman. 
Colorado likes the Connecticut native’s size (6-3, 210lbs) and physical
presence.  Lundberg doesn’t possess
a lot of offensive ability, but handles the puck well and is a hard worker. 
He had six assists in 33 games for the Friars. 
He will return to Providence for his junior season.

Frantisek Skladany: 
Boston University (HE), LW, junior.

The crafty Slovakian led the Terriers in goals (14), assists
(21) and points (35) in 41 games.  Skladany
is a very skillful and swift player, who can challenge defenders in one-on-one
situations.  He tends to shy away
from physical play, but his speed and creativity are his strengths. 
Skladany received the Regina Eilberg Scholarship as the BU player who
displays the highest values for athletics and education. 
Skladany will complete his collegiate career in the 2003-04 season.

Ryan Steeves: 
Yale (ECAC), C/LW, junior.

Steeves finished second in team scoring behind the highly
touted and recently signed Montreal Canadiens prospect, Christopher Higgins. 
While the Canadian native is a skilled collegiate performer, his biggest
asset is his speed.  Steeves can
take physical play and has a willingness to play along the boards and in the
tough corners.  He also displays
a strong work ethic and character.  The
absence of Higgins going into the 2003-04 season will put Steeves in a more
predominant offensive role for the Bulldogs.

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