Avalanche’s Compher Comes Through in Crucial Season

This season has been a bit all over the place for the Colorado Avalanche. In what was supposed to be the team’s run for back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Avs have been inconsistent. Between a rash of injuries and pendulum swings between winning streaks and losing streaks, the team has struggled to remain in the playoff hunt.

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But in the midst of all that uncertainty, J.T. Compher has emerged as one of the steadiest members of the team. The 27-year-old forward has played his entire career with the Avalanche and is one point away from scoring a career-high in points.

Compher Fills in Everywhere for Avs

Listed as a winger, Compher has played at center and on both wings this season – mostly out of necessity. He’s filled in admirably, playing in at least three games with a staggering 12 different line combinations. The inconsistency with linemates hasn’t hindered him, however. Compher has 10 goals and 22 assists on the season, ranked fifth in scoring on the team.

J.T. Compher Colorado Avalanche
J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Compher is also getting more rotations on the power play, with four goals and five assists – both tied for career highs on the power play in a single season. The Avalanche are known for having one of the most potent power-play units in the NHL, their special teams should have suffered with players like Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin missing significant time due to injury. Instead, with players like Compher stepping up, the Avs rank ninth in power play percentage (23.8 percent) in the league this season.

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He also has been one of the biggest contributors when Colorado is short-handed, averaging 2:19 of ice time per game, which ranks third on the team behind Devon Toews (3:21) and Cale Makar (2:46) – both defensemen. All that has led to Compher averaging 20:20 in ice time, which is the most of his career by nearly three minutes.

Career-Year for Compher

Compher’s highest-scoring season was in 2021-22 when he totaled 33 points, including 18 goals, also a career-high. That leaves him just a point away from surpassing those totals in 2022-23 – his 22 assists are already a career-high. He has been one of the most reliable players on the team this season and is one of five Avs to play in every game.

JT Compher Colorado Avalanche
JT Compher, Colorado Avalanche (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Compher has been the epitome of a depth forward since his rookie season in 2016-17. He played in just 21 games that year, scoring three goals and two assists. But his ice time has steadily increased as he’s played in at least 66 games in four of the last five seasons. The only outlier in that group was the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

Related: Avalanche’s Compher Succeeding in Bigger Role

Except for 2020-21, Compher has been in a holding pattern, scoring between 23 and 33 points every season. He’s already poised for a career year with roughly 30 games to go, which means he has an outside chance of hitting his first 20-goal season and is on pace to break 50 points. Those might not be Connor McDavid numbers, but it’s an important contribution for a team that didn’t know how they were going to replace Nazem Kadri after he left in free agency during the summer.

Compher’s Perfect Timing

Compher is in the final season of his contract and proving himself to be more than a role player. He should be in for a raise from his current $3.5 million AAV.

J.T. Compher Colorado Avalanche
J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Avalanche have a number of players on expiring contracts to deal with, including mainstay Erik Johnson, and restricted free agents Alex Newhook and Bowen Byram. They are still fighting for a playoff spot, trading in and out of the final wild-card spot with the Calgary Flames, and Compher is one of the reasons why they’ve been able to stay in contention through a rough season.

Related: Avalanche’s Compher Set to Impress in Contract Year

After signing players to big contract extensions during the offseason – namely Nathan MacKinnon – the Avalanche’s salary cap situation is tight, sitting with less than $165,000 in cap space. That means some tough decisions might have to be made in the offseason, but Compher’s season so far has shown that he’s earned another extension.