One of the early success stories from this season is J.T. Compher, who has gone from depth center to first-line forward for the Colorado Avalanche thanks to injuries and illnesses. The 26-year-old was averaging nearly 20 minutes a night through his first 11 games, with five goals and nine points in that span.
Unfortunately, in that 12th game, Compher suffered an upper-body injury and left early, playing fewer than six minutes before exiting. Now, head coach Jared Bednar told reporters today that Compher will miss approximately a month with the injury.
In his place on the top line, Mikko Rantanen is going to move to the middle of the ice and play between captain Gabriel Landeskog and Logan O’Connor. That’s certainly not the group the Avalanche expected before the season began, but with Nathan MacKinnon on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, the team will have to deal with what they have.
A second-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres in 2013, Compher has been a regular for the Avalanche but never a star to this point. His career-highs of 15 goals and 32 points came in 2018-19, numbers he was easily on track to shatter with his strong early performance. He’ll now have to work his way back from injury and when he comes back, there likely won’t be room on that top unit for him any longer.
It’s a disappointing loss for the team, but also a missed opportunity for Compher, who is on track for unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2023. He’ll be only 28 when he is scheduled to hit the open market and could have potentially parlayed a big offensive year into a few more dollars down the road.