For the first time this season, the Colorado Avalanche will hit the practice ice this week with rookie and training camp commencing at South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo. Here are some storylines to watch out for this week:
Patrick Roy As Head Coach
After being hired as head coach/vice president of hockey operations in May, Patrick Roy will finally get to work with Avalanche players on the ice. What will his coaching style and philosophy be? Roy said this summer that he wants to play fast and with a Stanley Cup attitude, but fans will now get to see it in action beginning this week.
First Look At MacKinnon
After training hard this summer with Avalanche forward Matt Duchene and fellow Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon's on-ice NHL journey will begin this week. He will take part in rookie camp on Sunday before participating in training camp Thursday. Roy has said this summer that he has penciled him as the third-line center for Colorado, but MacKinnon still needs to prove that he belongs in that spot with the NHL club during camp.
A Look At The Goalies
The current and "future" goalies of the organization will be showcased at camp with all seven netminders attending training camp this week, and five also participating in rookie camp. Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere are expected to hold on to their NHL positions, but this week will be a chance to see how Sami Aittokallio and Calvin Pickard have progressed after seeing some NHL time with the Avs last season. Kieran Millan and Kent Patterson—both of whom played the majority of last season with the Denver Cutthroats of the Central Hockey League—and Spencer Martin of the Ontario Hockey League will also be in the mix at camp
First Camp For Several Players
For many young players, it will be their first Avalanche rookie and training camp. Five of the seven players drafted this summer will be in attendance, as will all five from the 2012 draft. It will also be a chance for local fans to check out many other young prospects in the organization. One of which is Paul Carey, who played four years at Boston College and won two NCAA national championships. Carey picked up 41 points (19 goals and 22 assists) in his first professional season with Lake Erie in 2012-13.
Young Defense On Display
A young core of defensemen will be on display and trying to make an impression with the Avs' coaches and staff. While 22-year-olds Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott have seen time with the Avalanche over the past two seasons, others will be on hand in Centennial that could possibly see playing time this season. That will be the case for 6-foot-3, 200-pound Duncan Siemens, who will be participating in his second camp and will be entering his first professional season—either with Colorado or Lake Erie. Siemens was selected with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2011 draft, the same one in which the Avalanche chose Gabriel Landeskog nine picks earlier. It will also be the first chance for 2013 picks Chris Bigras and Mason Geertsen to be in action.
An old face that Avalanche fans are quite familiar with will be back in a Colorado uniform. Alex Tanguay was re-acquired in a June trade with the Calgary Flames after seven seasons away from the organization. Tanguay was with Colorado from 1999-2006 and scored 400 points (137 goals and 263 assists). He still ranks ninth all-time in franchise scoring.
Duchene & Parenteau Back At It
No other players had a more consistent 2012-13 campaign than Matt Duchene and PA Parenteau. The two forwards tied for the team lead in scoring with 43 points, with Parenteau leading in goals (18) and Duchene in assists (26). Colorado will once again look for both players to play a big part in the team's offense this season.
O'Reilly On The Wing
The addition of Nathan MacKinnon from this summer's draft adds to the Avalanche's deep talent at center. To get the most out of that talent, Roy said this summer that center Ryan O'Reilly could possibly play on the wing. The adjustment shouldn't be too big for O'Reilly, and it should help the club as adding another center on the ice would help with team's defense and on faceoffs.
Downie And Wilson's Return
After missing the majority of last season with injuries, Steve Downie and Ryan Wilson are expected to be healthy during Avalanche training camp. Downie missed the final 46 games last year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the second game of the season. Wilson missed 36 games with a nagging ankle injury. Both players would add grit and a strong defensive presence to the Colorado lineup this season.