Newcomers Take Avalanche Ice for First Time
The Avs opened training camp with on-ice work on Fridayby Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com
CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Colorado Avalanche fans got their first look at the newest members of the Avs on Friday with the first day of on-ice sessions at the team's 2019 training camp.
Once the 2018-19 campaign ended, Colorado executive vice president/general manager Joe Sakic stayed busy over the summer, making trades to acquire forwards Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky and defensemen Kevin Connauton and Calle Rosen as well as signing unrestricted free agents Joonas Donskoi and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Kadri is expected to take over the second-line center role for Colorado when the 2019-20 season opens. He, along with defenseman Calle Rosen and a third-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft, was acquired in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1 in exchange for Tyson Barrie, Alexander Kerfoot and a sixth-round pick in 2020.
Kadri was drafted in the first round by Toronto in 2009 and skated in 561 career NHL games with the organization--recording 357 points (161 goals, 196 assists)--and in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff contests.
Video: Nazem Kadri on joining the Colorado Avalanche
"It feels good [to be an Avalanche]," said the center. "I had a chance to be up here for a few weeks, meet a bunch of the guys, a bunch of the staff and get familiar with the facilities. At this point, I am definitely comfortable.
"I have turned the page. I respected my time in Toronto, I loved the city, loved the fans, loved how they treated me, but as of this point, this is my family now. These are the guys I am going to do anything for, and this is a team I am going to do anything for."
Kadri came to Colorado prior to the start of the camp in order to familiarize himself with his new home, and he got to spend some time in the Rocky Mountains training with one of his new teammates.
He joined Nathan MacKinnon and some other players in Vail at 8,150 feet above sea level to prepare for the upcoming season and it was MacKinnon's first extended look at the 28-year-old.
"He is a lot better than I thought he was, I knew he was a really good player but [after seeing him] up in Vail I think there is a lot to be seen," MacKinnon said of Kadri. "I think in Toronto he was held back a little bit. He was a great shutdown player and will continue to be that, but he has got a lot of offensive upside that I don't think the league has seen yet and we are definitely going to see that this year."
Another addition to the squad is Burakovsky. Colorado acquired the 24-year-old from the Washington Capitals on June 28, and he signed a one-year contract with the club on July 15.
"I was excited, there was a lot of talk about Colorado before and I was really hoping for it… For me to come here get a new opportunity, a fresh start, I mean it's all I wanted," Burakovsky said of his thoughts when he learned he was joining the Avs. "I wanted to come to a team that really believes in me and let me play and give me an opportunity to show how good I can be."
Video: Andre Burakovsky on joining the Avalanche
The left wing has registered 145 points (62 goals, 83 assists) in 328 outings and has added 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) in 56 postseason games.
Burakovksy, along with everyone else on the team, will have to earn his minutes and an element of trust with the Colorado coaching staff throughout the year but his first chance will come during the Avs' preseason slate.
"Burakovsky, he is a guy that has played with skilled players before, superstar players before, has done a nice job at times with them," said head coach Jared Bednar. "He is a guy joining the organization looking for more opportunity. I think a guy like Donskoi fits that too… We will play with [our lines] a little bit in exhibition, but I certainly would like to give a good look to a couple of the new guys there like Burakosvky No. 1 and Donskoi No. 2."
Donskoi has spent four seasons in the NHL, all with the San Jose Sharks, and has notched 122 points (45 goals, 77 assists) in 283 contests as well as 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 50 playoff games. He and Bellemare, who has played in 385 outings over the course of five NHL seasons, will add to Colorado's forward depth.
Video: Joonas Donskoi on signing with the Avalanche
For all of these additions it will take time to become fully comfortable with their new team, but they will all be working with the returning members of the squad toward the same ultimate goal to win the last game of the season.
"Joe said it fairly early on in the offseason process that we were going to be smart but aggressive, and I think that's what we were," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said of Colorado's summer moves. "We went out and got some really good pieces, whether it's free-agent signings or through a big trade. It is part of the business, and I definitely think that we got better over the summer, 100 percent.
"I really like the changes that we made. I am excited about having a guy like Kadri here, a guy like Bellemare--a centerman that can play third or fourth line and kill penalties, be out there in big minutes. Donskoi, Burakovsky, these are guys that have a lot of potential, a lot of upside to their game and [they can get] a fresh start here. We are super excited to have them… It is expected to take that next step, whether it is individually or as a team, we got more to do."