Shane Bowers is off to a strong start for the AHL Eagles

Shane Bowers is off to a strong start for the AHL Eagles

LOVELAND – Oskar Olausson was new to North America when rookie development camp began in September 2021. The first-round pick of the Swedish Avalanche may have been the big name, but it was a stressful test for he without previous exposure to English.

As the coaches barked orders, another prospect, Shane Bowers, made sure he was in the right spots.

Back then, Bowers was an oxymoron: a rookie veteran. Ottawa’s 28th overall draft pick in 2017, acquired by Colorado in the Matt Duchene trade that year, had been through his share of rookie camps.

“He was helping me a lot,” Olausson said. “He talked to me when my English wasn’t so good. On the ice, what to do. He’s a good guy.”

A year later, Bowers is still waiting for his chance in the NHL. The forward’s career has been ravaged by injuries and the pandemic, but the 23-year-old is off to perhaps his best AHL start yet. With greater defensive reliability as an emphasis, he still had six points in the first seven games.

“My goal has been the same since I signed with the Avs, since I signed my entry level,” Bowers said. “I want to play in the NHL. … It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m trying not to lose sight of that bigger picture.”

Ask him how he feels about the season so far, and he’ll point to the Eagles’ losing record first. Still, he understands the importance of his individual performance afterward re-signed with the Avalanche on a one-year deal in August when his entry-level deal had expired. Bowers is the only first-round pick in the 2017 draft class who hasn’t played in the NHL.

“My mindset is still the same every year. Obviously, you wish it had happened sooner, and everybody wants to play in the NHL as soon as they can,” he said. “But now it’s like, when I get there, I want to be ready and I want to stay. Everyone has a different timeline. Everyone has a different path… The cards I’ve been dealt, I’ll deal with.”

is this the year The Avs have been experimenting with their fourth line, already making several roster moves between NHL and AHL clubs. Current Eagles Anton Blidh, Jayson Megna and Ben Meyers have appeared for the Avalanche.

Meanwhile, Bowers waits.

“It’s important to try to focus on yourself, in a non-selfish way, obviously. You’re in a team environment,” he said. “But don’t worry about who’s called or if you’ve been called. Just focus on doing your job.”

Ben Meyers’ bad luck

The timing was a little unusual, but the decision was mutual.

Meyers scored on Oct. 17 on his old home ice in Minnesota with family and former college teammates looking on. The Avalanche rolled over the Wild 6-3 with help from the former Golden Gopher. The next day, Meyers and Avs coach Jared Bednar had a conversation about his development.

Bednar liked what Meyers was doing with the puck, but offered constructive criticism about Meyers’ game “away from the puck, to be in the right spots, in all three zones,” Meyers said.

They both decided it would be good for him to work out those details in the AHL.

“It was pretty simple,” Meyers said. “I’m making the adjustment to professional hockey, and it’s not always the best move when you’re playing six minutes a night to try to get better.”

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