Yesterday we discussed the package the Colorado Avalanche received in return for Matt Duchene, but one of the overlooked pieces so far has been Vladislav Kamenev. The 21-year old center might not be as exciting as Samuel Girard, but is another legitimate NHL prospect with some intriguing upside. Today, while the Avalanche prepare for their series against the Ottawa Senators in Sweden, GM Joe Sakic told Igor Eronko of Sport-Express that the team will bring Kamenev up as soon as possible. He would have even liked to bring him to Stockholm, if visa issues had not prevented him.
Kamenev reported to the San Antonio Rampage after the trade, and registered an assist in his first game. That gives him nine points in 11 games this season, after scoring 59 last season. Selected with the 42nd-overall pick in 2014, the 6’2″ forward is a solid two-way player and gives the Avalanche even more depth down the middle. Obviously with the loss of Duchene the NHL center position is weakened, but with Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Kerfoot, Tyson Jost, J.T. Compher and now Kamenev all 23-and-under with plenty of experience in the middle the future looks bright.
Sakic also addressed the idea that Kamenev could return to the KHL when his contract expires, telling Eronko he’s not worried about that.
I think he wants to play in the NHL and he’s an NHL player. I’m sure once he comes up he doesn’t want to go anywhere else. He’ll enjoy growing with that group. We wanted to get younger, get those young guys and grow together.
Kamenev’s entry-level contract will expire at the end of the 2018-19 season, and there will be plenty of eyes on him by then. If he does come up right away, he’ll be given every opportunity to succeed with the team right away. Colorado is off to a good start, but is focused on the long-term growth of the team.
On that note, Girard looks like he’ll get into the games in Sweden for Colorado which will force them to make a decision quickly after returning. Girard has played five games so far this season, and if he plays 10 he’ll burn a year of his entry-level contract. The Avalanche will have to decide whether sticking with their team for the whole year is worth it, or whether he should go back to the QMJHL. For Nashville, that decision was likely going to lean towards junior because of their already stellar group of defensemen. In Colorado, there’s no telling how much ice time Girard could earn himself.