ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling players who completed their rookie seasons with the organization in 2018-19. This installment takes a look at forward Sheldon Dries.
After completing his first professional season with the Texas Stars in 2017-18, Sheldon Dries got his first taste of the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche during the 2018-19 campaign.
The Macomb Township, Michigan, native signed a one-year, entry-level contract with the Avalanche on July 2, 2018. Dries made his National Hockey League debut with Colorado on the opening night of the 2018-19 season after earning a spot on the roster through his hard work in training camp and the preseason.
"I like his work ethic, No. 1," head coach Jared Bednar said of what about Dries impressed him before opening night. "I think he brings an element of speed. You saw it a little more in some (preseason) games more than others. He has a nose for the net, and he's not afraid to play in traffic."
He was the only player on the roster to make his NHL debut on opening night and the forward logged 5:13 of ice time in a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild in the season opener on Oct. 4.
Video: Dries on making his NHL debut
"Exciting," Dries said of his debut experience. "(Winning) makes it even better. Boys got it done and that's the main thing. Dream come true. It was emotional at the beginning, but just happy the rest of the way."
The Western Michigan University graduate then recorded his first career NHL points with a goal and an assist on Nov. 1 versus the Calgary Flames, a bittersweet game for Dries as the Avs lost the contest.
"It's definitely a dream come true for sure," Dries said of his first career NHL goal. "Right now, it's mixed emotions for sure. Tough loss, but we have to bounce back tomorrow."
Video: COL@CGY: Dries earns first career goal on redirection
Although the goal wasn't the prettiest, it showed Dries' ability to get in front of the net and into traffic. During the play, Alexander Kerfoot gathered the puck on the blueline, gave a saucer pass over the stick of the defender to Tyson Barrie who began working his was along the boards. As soon as Barrie received the pass, Dries worked his way in between the defender and the goalie. When Barrie reached the top of the circle, he fired a shot towards the net where Dries was able to deflect the puck off of the defender's skate and into the net.
"I saw [Barrie] coming down. Just tried to take the goalie's eyes away," Dries said. "Got a stick on it, good bounce, and it ended up in the back of the net. I'll take it anyway I can."
This goal is an example of Dries' style of play--a hard-working, speedy forward that isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas on the ice. Overall, he went on to play in 40 games during his rookie campaign, tallying six points (3 goals and 3 assists).
Video: LAK@COL: Dries bats puck out of the air for SHG
Throughout the season, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound forward also suited up in 25 contests for the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles, registering 11 points (three goals and eight assists) and adding one point (one goal) in four playoff appearances. Although Dries was only in his second season of his professional career, he brought significant experience to the Eagles after he recorded 10 points (10 goals) in 22 playoff games as part of a long Calder Cup run with Texas during in 2018.
Because of his performance with both the Avalanche and the Eagles, Dries inked a one-year deal with the Avalanche for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Look for Dries to expand his game over the offseason and come into training camp ready to fight for a bigger role within the club.