Alexis Pepin is already having more of a physical start to this year’s hockey campaign than he did a year ago.
After being sidelined at the beginning of last season due to shoulder surgery, Pepin has since shed the red non-contact jersey he donned at Colorado Avalanche Training Camp last year and is a full participant at rookie camp.
“It feels really good,” the 19-year-old said after taking the ice on the first day of camp on Monday. “It’s different than last year since I got to do a full practice. It was tough for the first practice with the altitude and all that stuff, but I think it will be better as the week goes on.”
Pepin, a fourth-round 2014 draft pick of Colorado (114th overall), has skated in 172 games over the span of four seasons in the QMJHL. During that time, he totaled 91 points (53 goals and 38 assists) while playing with four different teams.
Last season, Pepin played 24 games with the Gatineau Olympiques before being traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs, where he appeared in 23 more contests. He ended the year with a combined 18 goals and nine assists.
“I had a good time there [in Val d’Or], and it was a great organization and my hockey really improved when I got traded,” Pepin said at Avs Development Camp in July. “Now I am just improving on my physical side this summer and hopefully I’ll get a shot at training camp.”
A self-described power forward, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound left wing has high expectations set for 2015-16.
“I just want to have a good season in junior and impress at camp this year and maybe have a spot on the team,” Pepin said. “Obviously, I want to get a first contract with the Avs, too.”
The Montreal, Quebec, native said he felt good after his first day of drills and will keep working hard. He added that he knows what an honor it is to be in the Colorado system.
“It feels very good, and it’s really nice to be here,” Pepin said. “All of the coaching staff treated me really well last year when I had shoulder surgery, and this year I will try to give them back what they did for me.”