After impressive performances on the ice at their rookie tournament over the past two days, the Colorado Avalanche dream of a dominant group of franchise defensemen are much closer than they had initially imagined. The team already has two established cornerstones on defense in Samuel Girard and Cale Makar, but the play of 2019 first-round pick Bowen Byram and 2017 second-rounder Conor Timmins suggest they might be closer to join the other two sooner rather than later, according to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post.
Both will be with the team on Friday when training camp begins. Byram will have to prove that he’s ready for the challenges of the NHL already as a recently-turned 18-year-old. He broke out in a big way in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants, scoring 26 goals and 71 points, but he either must make the Avalanche or be returned to Vancouver. Timmins is a different story. The 20-year-old missed the entire 2018-19 season last year after dealing with concussion-like symptoms and likely will begin the season in the AHL until he gets some game experience, but could be recalled at any time if Colorado needs him.
- One story that has been an issue for years in Winnipeg has been the Jets’ need to establish a No. 2 center. The team has gone with veteran Bryan Little over the years only to acquire a second-line center at the trade deadline the previous two years in Paul Stastny back in 2018 and Kevin Hayes in 2019. Unfortunately, due to cap issues, the Jets were unable to retain either player and are once again on the lookout for someone internally to step up into that role. For Little, the job remains his to lose. The 31-year-old’s numbers continue to decline little by little, scoring 15 goals and 41 points (his least productive season since 2009-10), but he remains the top option, according to Winnipeg Free Press’ Mike McIntyre. The only other options look to be Andrew Copp and Jack Roslovic, both of which seem like longshots to claim that role.
- The Dallas Stars have a number of young prospects who might have a chance to make their opening day roster, including prospects Ty Dellandrea, Jason Robertson, Denis Gurianov and Riley Tufte amongst many. However, the Stars might have another player who could step up after Joel Kiviranta scored a hat trick against the New York Rangers squad Saturday, suggesting that the recently signed forward out of Finland could make an immediate impact for Dallas, according to NHL.com’s Mike Heika. The 23-year-old Kiviranta is still adjusting to the smaller North American ice, but has a lot of experience playing amongst men in Finland after five years there. He has tallied 35 goals over the past two years there.