Small group of Colorado Avalanche prospects playing in NCAA and Europe

By Blake Benzel

Gus Young - Yale Bulldogs

Photo: Junior defenseman Gus Young stepped into a shutdown role in a breakout season for the National Champion Yale Bulldogs (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

It would be easy to overlook the prospects that the Colorado Avalanche have developing in the NCAA and Europe, simply because none are flashy prospects. All were drafted after the third round and none are even the superstars on their own teams. To overlook these four prospects, however, would be a huge mistake as all of them look to be making strides that will, ultimately, find them playing in the pro ranks soon.

Europe

Joachim Nermark, C, Linkoping (Elitserien)
Drafted 4th round, 93rd overall, 2011

The hard-working Nermark found himself playing a good chunk of his season for Linkoping’s Elitserien club, and after spending the last two seasons being bounced between the big club and their junior club, he had a bit of a rough go of it. In 53 games, playing as a 19-year-old among men, he tallied just one goal and four points. While that is certainly not a flashy season for the defensive-minded Swede, Nermark once again put up good numbers for Linkoping J20 in his nine games playing for them, tallying three goals and seven points. Whether he will come play in the AHL next season or stay in Sweden has yet to be seen, but it may benefit him as a player to gain some more confidence in his game – especially on the offensive side of the ice – before making the jump to the smaller rinks of North American hockey.

NCAA

Nate Condon, C, Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)
Drafted 7th round, 200th overall, 2008

One of a few impressive prospects picked in the seventh round by Colorado, Condon continued to round out his game at the University of Minnesota this season, finishing with 31 points in 40 games for the Gophers. Not only did he put more of an emphasis on his two-way play heading into this past season, but he was rewarded for it as he found himself getting regular shifts on the team’s penalty kill to go along with his increased offensive production from a year ago. What has been most impressive about Condon has been his ability to grow in his game over the off-season. He has shown that he can do what it takes to improve and, barring any big changes, he will be back in a big role at the U for his senior season before going pro and joining Lake Erie after his season ends next year.

Gus Young, D, Yale Bulldogs (ECAC)
Drafted 7th round, 184 overall, 2009

Another impressive seventh round pick, Young took huge strides forward this season on Yale’s first ever National Championship team. He especially stood out in the postseason, and was arguably the player of the game for the Bulldogs in the National Championship game where he assisted on the game-winning goal with just seconds remaining in the second period and played an instrumental part in killing off a 5-on-3 power play for Quinnipiac in the second. As the season progressed, he found a better balance between his shutdown role and his offensive game, looking more comfortable jumping into the play. He is the type of player that teams love to have on their back end – even-keeled and reliable. As with Condon, Young will likely play his senior season at Yale before hopping over to Lake Erie.

Luke Moffatt, RW, Michigan Wolverines (CCHA)
Drafted 7th Round, 197 overall, 2010

There was a bit of a trend for the Avs in the seventh round of the draft from 2008 to 2010, and that has been drafting potential diamonds in the rough from the college ranks. Moffatt, a skilled forward from Arizona, could have the skill set that translates best to the pros. Unfortunately, he has yet to show that he can use that skill set to his advantage in college. The supremely talented Moffatt had his best season for the University of Michigan this last season – his third with the program – putting up eight goal and 21 points in 38 games. He has struggled at putting up points on a consistent basis, as well as struggled showing that he has what it takes to be an effective defensive forward. His biggest hurdle will be rounding out the physical portion of his game, something he has not yet seemed able to do. Moffatt, 20, still has plenty of time to learn that part of his game, however, and will likely be back at the Michigan next season for his senior year.