CENTENNIAL, Colo.-The Colorado Avalanche opens the 2016-17 preseason schedule on the road, which begins with a Tuesday contest at the Minnesota Wild.
The match will be the first chance for those participating to showcase their talent in a game situation against someone other than their fellow teammates. Rosters for both teams are expected to include prospects, giving them another opportunity to showcase themselves before the final roster is turned in on Oct. 11.
"We are still finalizing the lineup, but we have some guys that we want to evaluate," said Avs head coach Jared Bednar, who will also be making his NHL preseason debut. "We've got to see them play some games, see them play some guys and play some games against other competition besides our own team in practice."
JT Compher is one guy ready to demonstrate the type of player he is.
"I want to show the all-around game I can play. I want to be hard to play against, physical," he said. "[It's] a chance to play offense, make some smart plays and get some scoring chances. It will be really exciting to play my first preseason game. I think it's going to be a fun opportunity for whoever gets to play. I think that we will be ready to go. It has been a good training camp so far."
Video: Jeremy Smith talks about joining the Avs
There is never a lack of excitement when Colorado and Minnesota compete against each other, and the first preseason matchup in the history of both clubs should be no different.
"I've played in the Central Division before, so I know what it's like," Ben Smith said. "You kind of see a lot of these teams lead off, and Minnesota is always a tough team to beat.
"The games are a bit different. There's a lot of different bodies and guys, but individually you have to bring your same game and same energy and you just have to treat it like a regular season game. Every game is an opportunity to prove yourself, and you want to make sure you're at your best."
The players know that the exhibition slate serves as a proving ground for a spot on the roster, and Bednar confirmed that after Monday's practices as well.
"I think the whole camp is going to be like that. Every exhibition game is going to be like that, an evaluation," Bednar said. "I want to see our guys play games. I want to see who earns the minutes, the positions, who is going to play what for us come the start of the regular season. So we're going to evaluate it all the way through, not just the first games but the final games.
"They're still fighting for their ice time in my mind."
The puck drops at 6 p.m. MT at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and fans can listen to the radio broadcast of the game on Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 and ColoradoAvalanche.com.
Video: Jared Bednar on MacKinnon, Johnson and preseason