The Colorado Avalanche opened Development Camp on Sunday morning at Family Sports Center in Englewood with four groups on two rinks.
“These three days, we’re really going over habits, characteristics, things that we do here in Colorado and how the Avalanche play,” Brian Willsie, director of player development, said.
The latter group took part in drills for about an hour and a half and didn’t let up, with Alex Beaucage dumped into the net, helmet askew, just before the day wrapped.
The camp leads into the 2021 Rookie Faceoff Tournament from Sept 17-20 in Arizona. The Avalanche prospects will face NHL hopefuls from the L.A. Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks in three exhibition games.
In the past, prospect development camps were held earlier in the summer, a better fit for college and European players. Willsie now gets to see the players in different form.
“This time of year they’re at the top of their game, so it’s exciting for us to see,” he said.
Forward Alex Newhook and defenseman Bowen Byram, who saw regular-season action in 2020-21, took part Sunday, along with playoff addition Sampo Ranta and 2021 first-round pick Oskar Olausson.
"I think it’s a competitive advantage for them. They're in games next week and heading into the NHL training camp, they’ve already had 10, 12 days of full, high-paced action,” Willsie said of Newhook and Byram.
Byram, 20, can attach the names to faces this time around. His first professional season was cut short by injury, though he looked to be making strides during postseason practices.
Byram will be able to get some game action in. As he noted, it’s been a while.
“I feel great, better than I’ve felt in a long time,” Byram said. “It was good to have some time off in the summer to make sure all my injuries got taken care of properly.
“It was definitely some time I needed to kind of reboot my system.”