Monday, September 23, 2013

One To Watch: Colorado Avalanche

We talk a lot about NHL rookies on The Pipeline Show but in Colorado, the guy behind the bench this year is a pretty intriguing freshman. Patrick Roy is the rare coach who was a superstar player who spent time in junior hockey preparing for his return to the NHL. After 8 seasons with the Quebec Remparts, Roy feels he's finally ready to take on the head coach job in Colorado and that is going to make for interesting discussions all year. 

But the One To Watch series doesn't talk about coaches, it's looking at a young guy on the ice coming up the system and the Avalanche certainly have some interesting players on the way.

2012 Choice: Mike Connolly - A very disappointing season for a guy I admittedly held high hopes for. The former Camrose and Duluth standout had a very impressive season as a rookie pro in 2011-12, mostly in San Jose's system but Connolly fell far from that success last year. There was an injury to start the year and by the end of it he'd managed just 9 goals and 23 points in 65 AHL games. This year Connolly is playing in Germany.

My 2013-14 choice as One To Watch for Colorado comes after the jump.

Chris Bigras (D)
Owen Sound Attack
6'1, 186 lbs
Drafted 32nd overall in 2013

Photo: Terry Wilson
Right guy, right place. That sums it up pretty well for defenceman Chris Bigras right now as he continues to impress at camp for the Colorado Avalanche. The club just trimmed their roster down to 30 players including 11 defencemen and the 18-year-old is still included in the group. 

Several reports have new coach Patrick Roy raving about the way Bigras has performed opening the door to speculation that the rookie could see action early in the regular season. 

Bigras compiled 38 points last season in Owen Sound but it's not offence that anyone is expecting from him in Colorado. His efficient and composed play has earned him a longer look and perhaps that will carry over into October when things get going for real. 

After collecting a rare Canadian U18 gold medal for which he played an important role, Bigras is expected to be back in Owen Sound with the Attack but 'when?' now becomes the question.

A look at the Colorado roster, there seems to be room for a guy like Bigras to come in and steal a job away from several minor league veteran players. Can he do it? 

You'd have to think that Bigras is on the radar for the World Junior Championship despite not being on Hockey Canada's U20 club in Lake Placid last month. If he's back in Owen Sound, does he force his way onto the 2014 WJC team? 

An intriguing player for sure and that's why I have Chris Bigras as my Colorado pick for One To Watch in 2013-14. 

Up Next: New York Islanders        

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