Unsung Heroes of the 2020 NHL Playoffs: Colorado Avalanche

Unsung Heroes of the 2020 NHL Playoffs: Colorado Avalanche

by August 5, 2020 1 comment

Over the past few seasons, the Colorado Avalanche have iced an extremely impressive roster. Led in large part by former Hall-of-Fame player, Joe Sakic, who now pulls the strings as the team’s general manager, the Avs have transformed into one of the most highly-skilled and talented clubs in the National Hockey League.

With the resumption of the NHL season after a four-and-a-half month pause due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Avalanche are currently playing for seeding and await their opponents in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This season saw Colorado amass a 42-20-8 record through 70 games. This was good enough for second in the central division, trailing only the St, Louis Blues.

Although the Avs carry a lot of high-end, elite talent on their team, they also have a few players unsung heroes, who don’t always steal the headlines. Who are these unsung heroes and what kind of impact can they have this summer? Let’s take a deep dive and find out!

Tyson Jost, Center

Tyson Jost starts us off as a player “on the bubble” (literally and figuratively) among Colorado’s forward core. A former 10th overall pick back at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Jost has had a tough go this year due in large part to his inconsistent play. He’s also battled the injury bug which has stalled his momentum this season. With that being said, a strong playoff showing (if he can crack the lineup) would go a long way for the St. Albert native.

As a player, Jost is a good skater, who has continued to refine his game specifically at the defensive end of the rink. This season has seen Jost become one of head coach Jared Bednar’s “go-to players” on the Avalanche penalty-killing unit. He’s also dished out 58 hits this season (a career-high) while providing good energy to the third and fourth lines in Denver. If he can play a more consistent and direct game, Jost will be a major asset to the high-powered Avalanche throughout the postseason. Lok for Jost to have a big impact on what the Avalanche hope is a long and storied playoff run this summer.

Nazem Kadri, Center

Next up is enigmatic centerman, Nazem Kadri. After spending his entire pro career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that drafted him, Kadri was traded last summer to the Avalanche in a deal that saw Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot go the other way. Fresh off back-to-back postseason suspensions, Kadri will certainly be one of Colorado’s more intriguing players to keep your eye on during this summer’s tournament.

Never afraid to play on the edge, Kadri is at his very best when he’s playing with a “mean streak”. He is someone who never backs down from a challenge or altercation. He can also put the puck in the net and make plays, something he’s done throughout his career. He’s been a nice addition to the Avs this year tallying 19 goals and 36 points in just 51 games while providing a solid two-way element to an already explosive roster which includes the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, and Mikko Rantanen. Kadri and the Avalanche believe they have a legitimate shot to make some noise during these playoffs. As fans, we can only wait and see how far this group can go.

Nikita Zadorov, Defenseman

Nikita Zadorov rounds out our list coming in at number three. Zadorov is Colorado’s poster boy when it comes to unsung heroes as someone who consistently flies under the radar. A former first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, it’s hard to imagine that he is still only 25 years of age. Why on earth the Sabres gave up on him so early will always remain a mystery to me. Zadorov is tough as nails, feisty, and plays a big, physical, and imposing style.  With that being said, he’s absolutely adored by his teammates and the Colorado coaching staff. 

Who says size doesn’t matter? Listed at 6’6, 235 pounds, Zadorov is an absolute unit on the Avalanche blue-line. He doesn’t score as often as most would think, but in terms of his defensive abilities few on the Avalanche lock it down better than he does. This season alone saw him log 17:45 worth of ice time with 66 blocked shots and 175 hits in just 64 games played. I think that Zadorov can be a massive difference-maker for this team. He’s physical, mean, and loves the challenge of going up against the opposition’s top forwards. Makar steals most of the headlines within the Avs defense core, but players have to be aware of Zadorov when he’s on the ice. 

Do the Colorado Avalanche have what it takes to hoist Lord Stanley for the first time since 2001? I certainly think they do!

Honorable Mentions: RW Joonas Donskoi, D Ryan Graves

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