Call it the education line.
The Alex Newhook Center has just completed a two-year stay at Boston College. Left winger Tyson Jost played one season in North Dakota. Right winger JT Compher played for three years in Michigan.
Three proud hockey players from three enduring national powers, now teammates of what is considered the Avalanche’s third line.
“We always fight each other and so on,” Jost said of the college rivalries on Saturday after day three of ice training camp at the Family Sports Center. “It’s funny. It’s cool to see three college kids online and the three of us are pretty close friends too.
Former NCAA players make up about 33% of the NHL, according to College Hockey Inc., with the rest coming from major juniors or Europe.
Avs coach Jared Bednar formed the education line for Thursday’s first day of camp, bringing together three natural centers. He said Jost, 23, or Compher, 26, could move to center, which added defensive responsibilities, but chose to start with rookie Newhook, 20, for development reasons.
Newhook, who was Colorado’s second first-round pick in 2019 (16th overall), signed with the Avs on March 31 after his sophomore year in British Columbia. He played six regular season games for the Avs and eight in the playoffs while burning the first year of his entry-level contract.
“I want to give him the opportunity to play the position he was drafted into and see how he handles it,” Bednar said of Newhook. “If he could play in the lineup as a winger, as opposed to the lineup as a center, I would probably lean that way. So these are all things we need to see. I haven’t seen him play enough hockey at this level to make that decision.
It wasn’t that long ago that Jost and Compher were in Newhook’s shoes as an advertised college student trying to fit into the NHL.
“Comph and I are here to help him for sure,” Jost said. “I remember taking his job four years ago. It’s exciting. We have a good line. We’re fast there. We’re not the biggest guys ever, but we can all skate and it’s fun when we play that way.
Bednar and his team want to see more offense from Jost and Compher this season to help replace the 32 goals lost in the departures of Brandon Saad and Joonas Donskoi. Saad, who lost to St. Louis in free agency, scored 15 goals in just 44 games. Donskoi, who was selected by Seattle in the expansion draft, had 17 of 51.
Compher and Jost combined for just 17 goals.
“It’s a wanted pressure, for sure,” Jost said of the increased offense. “I want this responsibility.”
MacDermids. New Avs defenseman and coach Kurtis MacDermid was born in Quebec when his father, Paul MacDermid, played for the Nordiques in 1993-94 and 1994-95 – the club’s last two seasons before moving to Colorado and becoming the Avalanche.
Paul MacDermid’s 690-game NHL career ended in 1995 when the Avs entered their first season in Denver.
“I have old Nordic jerseys in my closet for a baby and toddler. It’s pretty cool for me, ”said Kurtis MacDermid.
MacDermid, 6-5, 235 pounds, is significantly bigger than his father, who was listed at 6-1, 200, and on course to break his 257 career penalty minutes. Kurtis, 27, has been rated at 46 major fights since turning pro in 2014.
“It’s pretty obvious – the physique is what I bring, and just being heavy and hard in the defensive zone and making sure the other team doesn’t take advantage of either of the guys,” Kurtis said on Saturday. . “Great group of guys and staff. It is a first class organization and I am really happy and excited to be here.