While Logan O’Connor might be well overshadowed by the top lines of the Colorado Avalanche, what he brings could be a vital part of the team’s rich offensive depth. Suffice to say, O’Connor making a name for himself even this season does not sound far-fetched, especially given the possibilities of injuries to their stars.
In the current state of things, O’Connor has been bouncing back and forth between being on the backend of the Avalanche offense and playing with the American Hockey League affiliate Colorado Eagles. With O’Connor’s fate for the season not set in stone the kind of presence and drive to compete that he brings will make him a valuable part of the team’s future.
O’Connor Breaks Out in College
Drafted in the 13th round of the 2013 United States Hockey League Entry Draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede, the 6-foot winger was not the most highly anticipated prospect coming out of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League. However, in 2015, he started to make a name for himself by scoring 36 points in 58 games while putting up a positive plus/minus of plus-six. This helped lead the Stampede to a USHL championship.
Following his time in the USHL, O’Connor enrolled at the University of Denver, joining a storied, well-renowned college hockey program. O’Connor became an integral part of the DU Pioneers hockey program after starting out as a healthy scratch.
“His work ethic and preparation in practices and his detail was so good,” recalled DU assistant coach Tavis McMillan.
In his sophomore season, O’Connor’s hard work and great attitude towards the team earned him an everyday role as he became an instrumental part of the DU Pioneers 2017 National Championship team. He was one of the six players on the roster to play all 44 games during the title run. O’Connor improved, even more, the next season as he put up a career-best 21 points and was named to the NCHC Academic All-Conference team, while also being recognized for his work off the ice as an NCHC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete.
First Opportunity Knocks at Professional Level
O’Connor’s growth and persistence were starting to gain recognition. This became evident going into the 2018 season. However, an even better opportunity arose from the professional level putting O’Connor in a major dilemma.
That summer he received the opportunity to attend the Avalanche summer camp as an undrafted college free agent. After development camp in anticipation of returning to DU as the team captain for his senior year campaign, O’Connor suddenly received a life-changing offer: an entry-level contract from the Avalanche.
“It was tough, it was the hardest decision of my life for sure,” he said. “That speaks volume for the program here, the teammates I’ve had the coaches.”
Ultimately, O’Connor chose to go straight to the professional ranks, a new opportunity that would require him to show resiliency to make it on the Avalanche roster.
O’Connor Earns Spot on Avalanche Roster
Going into the preseason the pressure was really there for O’Connor as he was up against the big names on an Avalanche roster poised to compete. He spent most of the 2018-19 season with the Eagles. In the AHL, he scored 19 goals which were tied for second-most on the team that year, which earned him some brief action in the NHL.
The next season, O’Connor again spent time between the AHL and NHL but finally had his breakthrough moment on Nov. 11, 2019. After initially providing a zone presence distraction to force the Edmonton defenders to pass it from one another from behind the net, O’Connor positioned himself perfectly in the slot to backhand a pass from Valeri Nichushkin for his first career NHL goal.
“It was pretty special you obviously dream about it your whole life,” said O’Connor on the accomplishment. “Everyone remembers their first NHL goal so they’ve all been in that situation before so it’s a pretty cool experience to share that with them.”
His aggressiveness and speed on the forecheck along with his commitment to the team are valuable assets that he can bring to the Avalanche moving forward. If he continues to show that same level of determination, O’Connor could be a breakout piece on the Avalanche’s third or fourth lines moving forward.