Previewing the 2020-21 Colorado Eagles roster, Part 3

  

Welcome back for the conclusions of my ongoing series where we take a look at what next season’s roster might look like. In part 1, I talked about the returning players. In part 2, I covered free agents. Today, I will walk you through all the new guys who have signed so far.

The forwards:

Callahan Burke:

Burke spent two seasons at the junior level with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders where he amassed 34 goals and 45 assists in 121 games. He also served as the team’s captain during the 2015-16 campaign. After that, he moved on to Notre Dame, where he scored 36 goals and 52 assists in 146 games. He also helped his team win back-to-back Big-10 Championships in 2018 and 2019 and was the team captain his senior year.

When asked by Kevin McGlue in a recent interview to describe his play style, he commented on his quickness, agility, and ability to get to the net. Cal also commented that he had never been to Colorado before, but Eagles player and fellow Notre Dame alumni TJ Tynan told him it was one of the best places he had ever played, which helped convince Burke to sign with the Eagles.

 

Charlie Gerard:

At the junior level, Gerard collected 36 goals and 30 assists in 121 games with the Madison Capitols, Fargo Force and Muskegon Lumberjacks. He then moved on to a four-year career at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he registered 30 goals and 40 assists in 120 games. He also helped the Mavericks win three consecutive WCHA regular season championships.

In their Colorado Eagles Tape-to-Tape podcast, CC Hawkley and Scott MacDonald describe Gerard as small, speedy, and feisty, which means he is going to fit right in here in Eagles Country.

 

The D-Men:

Matt Abt:

Abt spent the last few years bouncing between the Wheeling Nailers and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

When asked by Kevin McGlue about his playing style, Abt described himself as a strong, physical player, and also stated he is solid on the penalty kill. Abt also commented on being friends with former Eagles Matt Garbowsky and Chase Norrish. (Any friend of Garbo’s is bound to become my favorite player.) He said Garbowsky played a big role in convincing him to come to Colorado. The one negative about Abt seems to be that he is “not a dog guy” (his words), but I suppose we can let that slide.

In looking through Abt’s highlights, I was reminded of Mason Geertsen. I noticed big hits and a lot of grit. This particular video was my favorite because we see that he is willing to drop the gloves, but also a good sport at the same time. If he really is anything like Geertsy, he will have a lot of instant fans here in Eagles Country.

 

Bowen Byram:

Drafted in the 1st round (4th overall) by the Avs, very few incoming players have had as much hype as Byram. Check out this list of awards.

For my purposes, the real question is, will Byram spend any time in the AHL, or will he go straight to the NHL? Honestly, I have no idea and I will not pretend otherwise. I am not a prospect-watcher. I do not pay attention to these guys until they show up on the ice in Loveland. There have been many, many other articles and blog posts written about Byram for those who want details. This one, written by Ben Kerr for Last Word on Hockey, is particularly thorough. Berr’s conclusion is this: “Byram has the skills to be a number one defenseman in the NHL. However, he may not be ready next year as he still needs to add some muscle to his frame before he is ready for the pro game. It is also natural that defensemen take a little longer than forwards to be NHL ready.”

I am sure plenty of people would disagree with that assessment, but I cannot help but hope the Eagles get Byram for a year. Either way, it looks like Colorado hockey fans have a lot to look forward to.

 

 

Keaton Middleton:

Middleton spent four years in the major juniors with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, where he scored 11 goals and 47 assists in 255 games. He also served as team captain during his final two seasons and earned a spot on the OHL’s Second All-Rookie team in 2014-15. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent the two years of his professional career playing for the San Jose Barracuda (where he played on the blue line with his brother, Jacob Middleton). Based on the highlights I found, I expect Middleton to bring a lot of grit to the blue line. You can see some of his San Jose highlights here:

 

Ian Scheid:

Scheid (pronounced “shied”) is fresh out of Minnesota State University, Mankato (same as Charlie Gerard). Scheid’s story is the kind of tale every hockey fan loves to hear – he started out as a walk-on but did so well, he ended up with a full scholarship. He scored 25 goals and 72 assists in 158 NCAA games with the Mavericks. That is more points than any other defenseman during Minnesota State’s NCAA Division I era, and third all-time amongst Minnesota State defensemen. Wherever Scheid ends up playing, it should be exciting to watch him develop. Here are a couple of great highlights.

 

The Goalies:

Justus Annunen:

Annunen was selected by Colorado in 2018 in the third round (64th overall). Playing for Hermes in Finland’s second-highest hockey league, Mestis, in 2018-19, Annunen had a 13-8 record with a 2.77 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. He also set the record for the longest shutout streak in Liiga history (302 minutes, five seconds). Mike Chambers of the Denver Post predicted Eagles Country would see Annunen and Werner competing for the position of starting goalie in 2020-21. Here are some highlights to get you you excited.  And may the best goalie win!

 

Peyton Jones:

Jones spent his college career at Penn State University. Last season he led the Nittany Lions to the Big Ten regular season championship. This year, they were ranked No. 10 in the country, before COVID-19 ended the season.

In a story by Todd Thorpe of the Bucks County Courier Times, Jones is quoted as saying, “I’d been talking with three or four teams pretty consistently all year long, Colorado not being one of them. Two weeks after the season, they called my agent and were showing a bunch of interest… I wanted the opportunity to show what I can do. Being wanted is a key factor. I really felt wanted by Colorado.” Jones seems like a prospect who will bring Colorado hockey fans a lot of excitement.

Conclusion

That concludes my three-part series on who we might expect to see in the Eagles lineup this year. Obviously we will have a lot more information after the draft. Until then, I have only four words: is it December yet?

Center Ice Forums Previewing the 2020-21 Colorado Eagles roster, Part 3

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