Avalanche’s Shane Bowers Future on the Line Back in AHL

Shane Bowers entered the Colorado Avalanche organization with a solid reputation and was expected to make the NHL. He came as part of the Matt Duchene trade deal and was drafted in the first round of the 2017 Draft, taken 28th overall by the Ottawa Senators.

It’s probably fair to say that Bowers hasn’t developed as quickly as the Avalanche would have liked; he’s taken his time to get going, and never really grasped a big role with the Colorado Eagles in the American Hockey League (AHL). Despite that, fans have been calling to see him play for the past couple of seasons, making him one of the most talked about prospects in the system.

On Nov. 9, 2022, Bowers was finally given his chance. The Avs were decimated by injuries at that point, and he finally received an NHL call-up to show what he could do.

Shane Bowers Suffers Cruel Injury in NHL Debut

What would have been a proud moment for Bowers, turned sour very quickly, as he was injured on debut. He played just 1:46 that game, across three shifts, but despite such a small opportunity, he impressed and could have had a goal.

He was a whisker away from scoring on his opening NHL shift, and after that, was seen to be buzzing around, causing problems and giving opposing defensemen a hard time. Then came the injury, a hit from Tanner Jeannot sent Bowers off the ice holding his arm, and that was the last of what we saw from him in that game.

It was short and sweet, but while Bowers was on the ice, the Avalanche created three scoring chances, and two of those were classed as high-danger scoring chances, one going to the 23-year-old himself. We’ve seen many players called up from the Eagles this season due to the Avalanche injury problems, but despite having just three shifts, he will stick in the memory for the right reasons.

Back Healthy & Back With the Colorado Eagles

The positive for Bowers right now is that he’s healthy and ready to go, but again, he’s dropped into an unlucky situation. He returns at a time when the Avalanche are getting healthy themselves, we’ve seen both Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen return to action recently, so that’s two less roster spots to battle for.

With no place to play, Bowers has been sent down to the Colorado Eagles, where he will be looking to make a big impact. He’s had a slice of NHL action, and although it was brief, he needs to use that as motivation to put himself at the top of the pack with the Eagles, should a player be needed in the future.

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The biggest obstacle in front of him could be Jean-Luc Foudy, who has been the Avalanche’s best call-up this season and remains in the NHL. The feeling is that he won’t stay there when the Avs are back healthy, but given what he’s done, he should return to the Eagles and be the default number one for a call-up should anyone be needed.

But the advantage that Bowers has is that playing in the AHL gives him more chance of getting on the scoreboard. Prior to his NHL call-up, he had six points in 10 AHL games. He needs to score at that pace, and probably better, to make sure his name is being spoken about in the Avalanche front office.

Bowers’ Future Within the Avalanche Organization

Given Bowers has struggled to make the team in the past and he was seemingly given one final chance in the summer, it is fair to say his future with the organization could hinge on what he does in the coming weeks with the Eagles. We need to see the spark he showed in the NHL, albeit for a brief period. He needs to climb the depth chart and make himself the one that the Avalanche turn to next time they need to make a call-up.

Yes, he doesn’t have the inside track and is playing in the AHL, but that shouldn’t stop Bowers from staking his claim. We need to see him playing in all situations with the Eagles, and more importantly, getting points on the board. If there is one question mark over Foudy and other call-ups we’ve seen so far this season, it’s been whether they have the ability to score points in the NHL. If Bowers can produce at a point-per-game pace on his return, that may be enough to put the spotlight back on him.

Shane Bowers Ottawa Senators
Shane Bowers when he was picked by the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Should this not happen, then of course you have to wonder where the former first-round pick goes from here. Given the lack of assets the Avalanche have, they could decide to move on from Bowers at the trade deadline, when they will be actively looking to add NHL pieces to their roster.

Three shifts and less than two minutes of ice time is all Bowers has to show for himself in the NHL, but it may be enough for someone to take a punt on him and include him as part of a package deal put together. Given he’s now 23 years old, his value is on the decline while ever he’s not playing in the NHL, so it may be that the Avalanche see this as being their last chance to trade out of Bowers, and get something in return.

For that reason, this could well be the last chance saloon, if Bowers wants to stay within the Avalanche organization then he simply has to deliver on his return to the Colorado Eagles.

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