Avalanche Future
(Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images)

The Colorado Avalanche are going to have a decision to make pretty soon with 2018 draft pick, Martin Kaut. The 16th pick in round one of the draft was called up to the main roster and has gained the trust of coach Jared Bednar, who has increased his time on ice significantly since that first game against the New York Islanders on February 19th.

The decision now facing General Manager Joe Sakic and the Avalanche is whether you burn the first year of his Entry Level Contract (ELC) and keep him on the team, or send him down to their AHL affiliate Colorado Eagles before his tenth game which would be against the San Jose Sharks next Sunday at the SAP Center. If he plays in that game (which he deserves to do) the first year of his ELC is automatically burned, but given who they are expecting to return from injury is that a smart long term decision?

The Avalanche are no strangers to this scenario having done something similar with Cale Makar last season. They signed the Defenseman after his second year at UMass Amherst and immediately injected him into the playoff series against the Calgary Flames, knowing it would burn the first year of his ELC. Sakic didn’t seem to mind at all as long as he could help the team which Makar most definitely did.

Kaut has done much the same, especially with the amount of injuries to important players the Avalanche have faced, recording three points over seven games with a plus/minus of 0. But it’s not just his numbers that has caught coach Bednar’s eye, with the 6’2 winger getting time on the power-play second unit while also been impressive defensively with his checking game.

To see prospects like Kaut developing and being given time is what the Avalanche will need going forward to fill out a depth chart considering they will have to pay superstar Nathan MacKinnon somewhere close to what he’s worth, despite him saying he would take a pay cut on his next negotiations if it meant winning more Stanley Cups. It’ll still probably be more than the $6.3 million AAV he’s currently getting. Just a hunch.

Avalanche train keeps rolling

For that reason the Avalanche will be hoping lightning strikes twice with their 2019 second overall draft pick also selected at the 16th position in round one… Alex Newhook. So far things look very promising. Having committed to Boston College for the 2019-20 season, Newhook has lit up the NCAA with 40 points in 32 games and a +27. Not bad for a freshman.

With the current set up for the Av’s in the center position and the wealth of talent they currently have, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Newhook return to Boston College next year and grow his game even further. Or he could end up in Loveland, Colorado with Greg Cronin and the AHL Eagles. That decision will be made by people much smart than me as they look to fulfill his potential as a “top six slam dunk” according to Avalanche 360’s YouTube video.

Newhook is only one of the prospects causing excitement in Avalanche fans for the long term future. There is also 2017 draft pick Conor Timmins, who is currently developing into a second line defenseman with the AHL Eagles, 2019 fourth overall pick Bowen Byram, a left shot Defenseman tearing it up in the WHL with the Vancouver Giants, and 2018 second round pick Goaltender Justus Annunen who has a .934 SVV% and 1.60 GAA for Oulun Kärpät in the Liiga, top tier of hockey in Finland.

Av’s make it seven wins in a row against Red Wings as injury list grows

Not all will make it, although Timmins already played two games for the Avalanche this season before being sent down to continue his development. However, the pipeline certainly seems to be there. If it’s as strong as it seems it’s no wonder Sakic didn’t do anything crazy during the recent trade deadline. Of course you want to try ‘win now’, but with the current core and these prospects coming through you could be in ‘win now’ mode for the next decade.

Oh what a time to be an Avalanche fan.

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