With the depth that the Colorado Avalanche currently have on the roster, the team appears to be in pretty good shape heading into the upcoming season. While that is good for the team and the fans, it does mean that some of the young prospects in the developmental system will be hard pressed to crack the lineup anytime soon. Let's take a look at some of those prospects who have the best chance to see their first NHL action at some point this season.
Duncan Siemens – Defenseman – Drafted 11th overall in 2011
It is somewhat surprising that Duncan Siemens has yet to play in his first NHL game considering the fact that he was drafted exactly nine picks after the team's captain, Gabriel Landeskog. This will be the fourth season since Siemens was drafted, and one would expect a first round pick to have secured a place on the roster after that much time. Not much has been said of his progress over the last three years, so it's hard to say whether he is developing as originally hoped. While it is too early to guess how his career will pan out, we can reasonably assume that he has the potential to debut for Colorado this season if a couple of defensemen have prolonged injuries. In the meantime, he will probably be delegated to the team's AHL affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
Chris Bigras – Defenseman – Drafted 32nd overall in 2013
Even though Chris Bigras was only drafted a little over a year ago, he already appears to have as good a chance of playing for the Avalanche this season as Siemens does. Entering the 2013 NHL Draft, Bigras was widely considered to have first round talent, but somehow he just barely slipped out of the first round, allowing Colorado to grab him at the top of the second. He has reportedly looked good in Colorado prospect development camps, and is on the road to eventually being a regular on the roster. It is unlikely, however, that he will make his debut this season, but as is the case with Siemens, injuries to Colorado's defense could feasibly make that happen.
Conner Bleakley – Center – Drafted 23rd overall in 2014
Conner Bleakley, as fans should recall, was Colorado's first round selection in this year's draft. With all of the offensive talent that the Avalanche currently have, it would take a rather grim streak of injuries for Bleakley to suit up in the NHL this quickly. Even so, he is just as likely if not more likely to make his debut this season than any other forward currently in the system. There are a few others who are a little older, but aren't as talented or any more polished than Bleakley. It should be remembered, though, that players currently on the Lake Erie Monsters would sooner get called up than players who are still in junior hockey.
To be completely objective, none of these players has a very good chance of getting their first NHL action this season. Even those named here would need numerous unfortunate things to happen to other players in order to get that opportunity. As for the rest of the developmental system, those players still have a long way to go, and most won't ever get there. At least the players named here are on track for NHL careers, just not ones that are likely to begin this season. All that being said, it remains within the realm of possibility that one or more of these players will get an early call, and if that happens, fans should already have some familiarity with who they are.
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Tags: Chris Bigras, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Conner Bleakley, Duncan Siemens, Gabriel Landeskog, Hockey, NHL