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32 in 32

Top prospects for Colorado Avalanche

Meyers could crack NHL lineup; Olausson likely to spend season in AHL

by Ryan Boulding / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of the League's 32 teams from Aug. 8-Sept. 8. Today, the top five prospects for the Colorado Avalanche, according to NHL.com.

 

[Avalanche 32 in 32: Season preview | 3 Questions | Fantasy breakdown]

 

1. Justus Annunen, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 64 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

2021-22 season: Colorado (NHL): 2 GP, 1-1-0, 4.34 GAA, .863 SV%; Colorado (AHL): 48 GP, 24-13-6, 3.01 GAA, .893 SV%

The 22-year-old (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) shouldered the bulk of the workload for Colorado's American Hockey League affiliate last season, his first in North America after coming over late in the 2020-21 season from his native Finland.

But with Colorado acquiring Alexandar Georgiev in a trade with the New York Rangers on July 8 to pair with Pavel Francouz, it's likely that Annunen will be the No. 1 goalie in the AHL again this season.

Projected arrival: 2024-25 season

 

2. Ben Meyers, F

How acquired: Signed as an undrafted free agent on April 13

2021-22 season: Colorado (NHL): 5 GP, 1-0-1; University of Minnesota (NCAA): 34 GP, 17-24-41

The 23-year-old center got a small taste of the NHL after signing with Colorado late last season, including scoring in his debut against the Carolina Hurricanes on April 16. However, because of his signing date, he was ineligible to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Although the Avalanche are deep at forward, because of the losses of Nazem Kadri, Nico Sturm and Andre Burakovsky in free agency, it's possible that Meyers (5-11, 194) could crack the lineup.

"Ben is great. One of the older guys here," Colorado director of player development Brian Willsie said at development camp. "It was great for the younger guys to watch him, the way he conducts himself. He's so mature, and he's ready to step into the NHL lineup. It was a good week to have him here. Another touch, another week of learning the details that we do. So having him around here was awesome. Just an awesome kid."

Projected arrival: Next season

Video: CAR@COL: Meyers makes it 4-0 from front of the net

 

3. Oskar Olausson, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 28 pick in 2021 NHL Draft

2021-22 season: Barrie/Oshawa (OHL): 55 GP, 26-23-49

Olausson (6-1, 180) came over to North America from his native Sweden last season and seemed to handle the adjustment well. When his OHL season concluded, the 19-year-old right wing joined Colorado of the AHL for the Calder Cup Playoffs and got two assists in four games.

"Such a smooth skater. Really, really handsy with the puck, and smart," Willsie said. "In the OHL, he could hold onto the puck for 20-30 seconds at a time and find that open player, and then he was lethal on the power play. Coming into the Eagles at the end of the year, that was a great spot for him. I think he learned a ton."

Projected arrival: 2023-24

 

4. Jean-Luc Foudy, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 75 pick in 2020 NHL Draft

2021-22 season: Colorado (AHL): 65 GP, 9-17-26

The 20-year-old center is coming off his second season in the AHL and stepped up in the Calder Cup Playoffs, getting seven points (four goals, three assists) in nine games.

However, like Meyers, with the Avalanche so deep at forward, Foudy (5-11, 177) will need to impress at training camp or he will likely return once again to the Eagles.

"Guys in that situation, there's big opportunities there for them to take the next step," Willsie said. "They're at home training in the summer, and hopefully they see that there's opportunity there, because there is."

Projected arrival: 2023-24

 

5. Sean Behrens, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 61 pick in 2021 NHL Draft

2021-22 season: University of Denver (NCAA): 37 GP, 3-26-29

Behrens helped the University of Denver win the NCAA championship as a freshman last season before witnessing Colorado's run to the Stanley Cup in June.

The 19-year-old then attended his first development camp over the summer and is also representing the United States at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held in Edmonton from Aug. 9-20.

Despite all this, the expectation is that Behrens (5-10, 177) will return to Denver this season.

"Just an elite defenseman," Willsie said. "So smart. Working on just footwork, details of how we play, defensive game. The offensive game is there. It's pretty impressive to watch young kids like that. He's a bit raw for pro, but that's why it's great to have him at DU so close."

Projected arrival: 2024-25

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