Avalanche CHL prospects season review

By Leslie Treff

The Colorado Avalanche had six prospects play in the Canadian Hockey League during the 2005-06 major junior season. Of those six, four played in the Western Hockey League and two in the Ontario Hockey League.

Wojtek Wolski, C
Height: 6’3, Weight: 202
DOB: 2/24/86
1st Round (21 overall) in 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Wolski, a native of Poland, had a very eventful 2005-06 season in both the OHL and the NHL. The 20-year-old Wolski had spent the previous three years as a member of the Brampton Battalion, and, last year, he registered more than a point a game (72 points in 67 games). There were very high expectations for Wolski this season, and it was no surprise when he did well in the Colorado Avalanche training camp this past fall.

Wolski played so well that he stuck with the team through preseason and for nine regular season games in October. While a member of the Avs, Wolski registered six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in the nine games, and was named the second star of the Oct. 10 game against the Calgary Flames (1 goal, 2 assists).

Wolski was returned to Brampton on Oct. 26 to finish out his 2005-06 season in juniors. Named captain of the Battalion immediately upon his return, Wolski’s early play was uneven, at times it appeared that his concentration was low and his effort level diminished. However, some time toward the end of January his focus sharpened, and he became a much more consistent, high-level player. On Jan. 22, Wolski broke a one-game team record and registered seven points on the night (4 goals, 3 assists). It was the first of three hat tricks for Wolski during the season. In 56 games with Brampton this year, he scored 47 goals and 81 assists. His total of 128 points placed him third in the OHL scoring race. The 328 points he accumulated in four seasons of play in Brampton makes Wolski Brampton’s all-time scoring leader.

Among Wolski’s accolades this season, he was named OHL player of the week three times, OHL player of the month in December, January, and February, best Eastern Conference All-Star in the OHL All Star Game, as well as “Smartest Player” and “Best Shot” in the OHL Coaches Poll. Absent injury, Wolski will play in the NHL next fall.

Victor Oreskovich, RW
Height: 6’3, Weight: 215
DOB: 8/15/86
2nd Round (55 overall) 2004 NHL Entry Draft

Oreskovich, an Oakville, ON native, began the season playing for the University of Notre Dame. The college sophomore played for the Fighting Irish all of last season and in nine games in 2005-06 (2 goals, 1 assist). For unspecified personal reasons, Oreskovich decided to leave Notre Dame on Nov. 27. Just three days earlier, the OHL Windsor Spitfires traded the rights to Oreskovich to the Kitchener Rangers. The 20-year-old winger played in 19 games for the Rangers, registering 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) and a plus/minus of –1. His contribution to the Kitchener team was limited by two extensive absences due to injury, however, Oreskovich showed that he is a physical player, with a nose for the net and quick hands. With his junior career ending this past weekend, Oreskovich is looking toward a professional career. As of today, he is unsigned by Colorado, and it is likely that he will begin next season in either the AHL or ECHL.

Chris Durand, C
Height: 6’2, Weight: 196
DOB: 1/21/87
2nd Round (52 overall) 2005 NHL Entry Draft

Durand is in his third season playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. The 19-year-old center played in 71 regular season games in 2005-06 and registered 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) with a plus/minus of –3. This was a significant decrease in production from last year, when, in 66 games, Durand accumulated 53 points (19 goals, 34 assists) and an impressive plus/minus of +30. The forward, who also took an inordinate number of minor penalties this season (105 PIM), has bounced back in the 2005-06 playoffs. Durand has scored five goals in five games (7 total points, with a plus/minus of +3). Durand, who could be an excellent two-way power forward, has had problems with consistency throughout his junior career. This year proved no different. Durand needs to show a consistent effort and smart two-way play during the rest of his junior career to hope to move to the professional ranks.

Ray Macias, D
Height: 6’1, Weight: 198
DOB: 9/18/86
4th Round (124 overall) 2005 NHL Entry Draft

The Long Beach, California native is playing in his third season for the Kamloops Blazers. An exciting offensive player, Macias has in the past been criticized for his many defensive lapses. This season, he made great strides in that area, improving his defensive positioning substantially. Although his offensive production in 2005-06 (68 games, 12 goals, 26 assists) dropped somewhat from that in 2004-05 (69 games, 12 goals, 35 assists), his plus/minus rating went from –16 to 0. If Macias continues to improve his defensive play, he will be an excellent prospect for the Avalanche. He will need to play junior hockey at least one more prior to attempting a professional career.

Kyle Cumiskey, D
Height: 5’11, Weight: 175
DOB: 12/2/86
7th Round (222 overall) 2005 NHL Entry Draft

The smooth-skating defenseman for the Kelowna Rockets had a very successful season in 2005-06. Although he missed quite a few games to a back injury and then a concussion early in the season, Cumiskey registered 30 points (6 goals, 24 assists) in the 51 games he played, while managing a plus/minus of +15. A shifty, offensive defenseman with excellent puck handling skills, Cumiskey was used in all situations. His size has always been an issue, but Cumiskey has bulked up sufficiently this season to erase some of that concern. It is likely that Cumiskey will return for one more year at Kelowna before commencing his professional career.

Jason Lynch, D
Height: 6’4, Weight: 214
DOB: 5/26/87
6th Round (166 overall) 2005 NHL Entry Draft

Lynch has just completed his fourth year as a stay-at-home defenseman for the Spokane Chiefs. Scoring only four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in 69 games for the Chiefs, Lynch racked up 191 PIM. Not afraid to fight, Lynch took on that role this season. Unfortunately, he also had a plus/minus rating of –13. Never a good skater, Lynch’s defensive deficiencies make him a long shot for a professional career.

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