Shane Bowers is at a crossroads to close out the Avalanche preseason.
Bowers, with 117 career AHL games under his belt, will either secure a roster spot with the NHL club or be put on waivers — signaling a possible end to his time in Colorado. Bowers didn’t mince words after morning skate Wednesday in the Avs’ dressing room. The 2017 first-round draft pick has yet to appear in an NHL game.
“I have waivers this year and it is what it is. Whether you get picked up or not, it’s out of your control,” Bowers said. “My goal since the start of camp is I want to make the team. I want to play in the NHL. Whatever that takes, I’m willing to do (it).”
Bowers made his final push before Colorado's exhibition finale at Ball Arena, a 2-1 win over the visiting Dallas Stars. Bowers, a Boston University product, was a healthy scratch after a strong training camp performance. His goal was to “be consistent, work hard, be competitive, finish my hits, get pucks out and be strong on pucks.”
Bowers sought to earn one of three vacant bottom-six forward slots; created by Nazem Kadri’s free agency departure and lingering injuries to Darren Helm and Gabe Landeskog. Bowers will learn over the next couple of days whether he’s made the cut.
“Bowers has had a really good camp,” coach Jared Bednar said earlier in the week. “He looks like a confident player. He looks like he came in really good shape. He did well in the skate test and it’s translating into the speed and pace that he plays with and practices with. His growth is going to come with the sturdiness of the game. He’s got to get a little bit more engaged in some of the battles.”
Bowers, 23, paid close attention to the championship habits of Avalanche regulars throughout training camp. He said that “just being able to watch and learn from them is huge.” Bowers is also healthy after dealing with injuries last season that limited him to 34 AHL games with the Colorado Eagles. AHL teams play a 72-game season.
“Physically, I feel a lot stronger this year (compared to) last year,” Bowers said. “Just confidence wise, going through some ups and downs last season, being able to learn from those and grow. Just knowing what my game needs to be and what I need to do to be successful.”
What happened: The Avalanche won, 2-1, in their exhibition home finale against the Dallas Stars.
On the attack: After a scoreless first period, Dallas broke through in the second with a goal from Riley Damiani. Colorado tied the game late in the third period when Logan O'Connor finished his own rebound (assisted by Ben Meyers). Then Mikko Rantanen delivered the game-winning goal (assisted by Sam Girard and Devon Toews). Both teams finished with 33 shots on goal.
In the net: Alexandar Georgiev started for the Avs and made 32-of-33 saves. The Stars opted for Scott Wedgewood in net who secured a shutout over two periods making 18 saves. Dallas turned to Anton Khudobin in the third period and he closed the game with 13-of-15 saves made.
Star of the night: Nathan MacKinnon, but in an unusual way. He got the biggest roar of the night when he tackled Dallas defenseman Colin Miller late in the second period. MacKinnon was upset that Miller got into teammate Artturi Lehkonen's face and made him pay.
What’s next: The Avalanche open the regular season on Oct. 12 vs. the Chicago Blackhawks at Ball Arena.