Photo: After a long stint in Colorado in 2011-12, defenseman Stefan Elliott underachieved at the AHL level for most of his season with Lake Erie in 2012-13 (courtesy of Jimmy Simmons/Icon SMI)
Despite making the playoffs a few seasons ago, the Colorado Avalanche have been languishing the last few seasons, not fully able to cash in on the promise of their young players. Not only have they struggled on the ice, but they have struggled in the draft as well, lacking the organizational depth that makes the great teams truly great. All that aside, there are players in their system that have stood out a bit above the rest.
Photo: Defenseman Tyson Barrie, who has skated in 20 NHL games with the Avalanche in 2012-13, moved into the top spot in Colorado’s mid-season Top 20 (courtesy of Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)
The Colorado Avalanche are in a very unique position for their franchise. They have a bevy of young talent in their organization – if you look at their roster, the team does not have many players over the age of 28 playing in the NHL this season. The problem for Colorado is, the bulk of that young talent is already on their NHL roster, leaving the cupboard a bit bare behind them.
Photo: Nate Condon (left), one of Minnesota's top scorers this season, tries to maintain possession against a leaping check from North Dakota's Danny Kristo (MTL). (courtesy of Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)
The 2008 Entry Draft saw players such as Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson, and Jordan Eberle taken in the opening round. The Colorado Avalanche, however, missed out on the first round of the draft having sent their first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the deal that sent Adam Foote back to Denver.
Photo: Playing in his rookie pro season, Michael Sgarbossa was leading the Lake Erie Monsters in scoring when he was called up to the NHL club on January 29th. (courtesy of Russell Lansford/Icon SMI)
The depth and talent developing at the pro level is an organizational strength for the Colorado Avalanche. Players like Michael Sgarbossa, Mark Olver, and Tyson Barrie got off to strong starts in the AHL and are now making an impact for the Avs in 2013. Meanwhile prospects Stefan Elliott, Brad Malone, and Cameron Gaunce are knocking on the door and are more than ready to step in as injury replacements this season.
Photo: Cameron Gaunce is one of several experienced defensive prospects in the Avalanche prospect pool on the verge of making the NHL. (courtesy of Zuma Press/Icon SMI)
With players like Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene quickly ascending to the pro ranks, it is easy to see why the Colorado Avalanche’s prospect cupboards might be a bit bare. On the surface that is certainly the case, but if you dig a little deeper and poke around, you can see that there is at least a little depth to be had at every position – even the ones that do not appear to have it.