Drafting is essential to a team’s construction on their path to becoming a contender in the NHL, however, the draft is not the only way to acquire prospects. The Colorado Avalanche has made good work of other avenues to receive talent — and a major highlight of that is Shane Bowers.
The 21-year-old forward was a part of the Matt Duchene blockbuster deal from 2017. With so many pieces involved in that trade, and people moving around, most forgot Bowers’ inclusion in it. However, to the Avalanche he was one of the most central figures for them.
Colorado does not have a deep prospect pool down the middle of the ice. Beyond Alex Newhook, another Avalanche prospect, there is virtually nobody that is expected to step up to NHL standards. Although there may be some late bloomers at that position in the future, currently there is no anticipation for that to happen.
Bowers is a natural center and can be played there if need be, but last year in the AHL he was moved to the left-wing, where his future in Denver will likely end up. However, having that versatility in terms of where he can play makes him a more viable option to the Avalanche. Although it is easier to switch from center to wing, not everyone can do it as smoothly as the Halifax native.
The former Boston University Terrier is also good on both sides of the puck. Similar to Newhook, he is a tenacious forechecker that loves to be on the defender’s heels. With the versatility and defensive capabilities he has to offer, Colorado may pencil into the lineup as soon as this season.
Bowers’ experience on the wing and in the center of the ice can be very beneficial to the Avalanche. On the current Avalanche roster, only Tyson Jost and JT Compher have good experience in both positions.
This versatility might make him more enticing to head coach Jared Bednar, as Colorado is currently in dire need of depth scoring. Bowers being able to fill a few holes can potentially be a huge help for a team expected to make a deep playoff run.
Last season, his first full one in the AHL, Bowers posted 27 points in 48 games as a 20-year-old. That is incredibly impressive to do as a young prospect that is switching positions in a professional league. Although he isn’t having the greatest season to start this year, it’s evident that he is improving as each game goes.
I’m not saying that Bowers will come in and solve all the depth issues in the Mile High City, however, he can potentially be some sort of X-Factor for them in the playoffs, similar to how Cale Makar was a few years ago. I don’t expect him to have the same amount of impact that the Norris Trophy contender did either, but I do think he can add some considerable value.
The Avalanche have been using the same lines for quite some time now, and it could be hard to make room for the 21-year-old, but if an injury occurs or if play in the bottom-six begins to deteriorate, it’s hard not to see a future where Bowers isn’t incorporated in there somewhere.
Growing up, Bowers modeled his game after Jonathan Toews and it’s especially evident in the way he plays. The Halifax native is known for him being capable of playing in all situations.
As mentioned previously, Bowers is a tenacious forechecker, and by virtue of that, it makes him an excellent penalty-killer. His ability to play both sides of the ice is what makes him so appealing as a prospect.
When the former Boston University Terrier was playing at center in the AHL, some of his poor defensive tendencies began to stick out. This was caused by his inexperience at such a high level, and then move to the wing really helped him establish his defensive presence to a further extent. The move alleviated some of the responsibilities he had as a center and allowed him to pressure the blue line more when he was on the wing.
If Bowers continues to develop he may be able to fit into the future top-six plans for Colorado. His play style seems as if it would mesh well with Newhook, and the two could eventually have chemistry going. However, as of now, the Halifax native is further along in his development.
Overall, Bowers expects to be a high-end prospect for the Avalanche. He isn’t as flashy as other prospects across the league, but his effectiveness on the ice will catch the attention of many soon.
My name is Ilyas, I’m 18-years-old, I was raised in Toronto, and currently enrolled in the Ryerson School of Journalism. I cover the Colorado Avalanche here at The Hockey Writers.