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Ross Colton Goal of the Year

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Photo by Josué AS / Unsplash

We’re finally getting around to reviewing the 2022-23 season. Instead of assigning grades or any of that nonsense, we’ll start by looking at the player’s best goal from the season and go from there. For some it’ll be easy, others have way more to choose from.

Player

Ross Colton

Stat Line

81 games played, 16 goals, 16 assists,  50 PIMs, 153 shots, 17.9 ixG, 188 hits, 11:33 TOI

(Playoffs) 6 games played, 1 goal, 3 assists, 4 PIMs, 8 shots, 0.86 iXG (5v5), 19 hits, 13:27 TOI

Goal of the Year Video

Goal of the Year Description

Reviewing Colton’s goals from this past season, there’s a very clear theme across them all. When Ross Colton has space to shoot, he usually will, and it’ll often go in. Most of the shooting goals from the season came from mistakes, or rebounds, or finding the soft spot in the middle of the chaos. That is where Colton has thrived during his time in Tampa Bay, and I’m sure it’ll be where he thrives in Colorado.

Colton isn’t the guy on the line to make a play to create space – simply put he’s not a playmaker. But he’s a very effective finisher for a third line. He’s confident with his shot and won’t waste time getting it off, otherwise he’s poised with the puck and knows where the defense can’t touch him. In short, he has great offensive instincts.

My goal of the year for Colton is electric, but also really interesting because it’s probably one of the few times where he should’ve shot first, but didn’t, and then didn’t need a second time of asking.

This goal came on the power play in a 5-4 barn burner against the Buffalo Sabres (they did a lot of that last year) where Colton was fed the puck from down low by Point right into the heart of the slot. I have every belief that this would’ve been a no-doubter goal based on the pre-shot movement of the puck and Colton’s ability. But he passed it off! Presumably to get Stamkos a goal. In review, that pass wouldn’t have worked because the goalie and defenders were already moving right to left on our screen, meaning they had momentum towards Stamkos, who realized this as soon as the puck got to his stick and he had to abort his shot.

I assume at the exact same moment Colton learned that he had to shoot it, and on the second time of asking, he did and he scored.

How did the 2022-23 season go for them?

Some of the things on the defensive side that helps Colton offensively is when the defense backs off, which is often an unforced error (though elite, fast forwards can scare defenders off). Colton’s offensive skills allow him to make the most against teams like Buffalo, playing off the rush, and working with the man advantage to a level where he can score 20 goals a year playing 12 minutes a night on the third line.

I’ll give a little more context on Colton’s season around the topic of icetime. He was eighth among Lightning forwards, a long way from Paul who played 16 minutes a night and not much farther ahead than the fourth liners. Basically, Colton was solidly in that eighth forward box on the Lightning.

2023-24 Contract Status

For that position, he provided exactly what a playoff team required at a cost that’s very fair. But going into this summer, and in hindsight after free agency, the Lightning were able to replace that role for significantly cheaper in someone like Josh Archibald, as well as having Michael Eyssimont. Hence, Colton was traded at the draft for a second round pick, used to draft QMJHL American/Canadian Ethan Gauthier.

From my perspective, at the time of the trade, the Lightning knew both Colton and Jeannot’s ask. And probably at that point realized they couldn’t afford to keep both and fill out the rest of the forward group like they needed to. So they made a choice between Colton and Jeannot, and while I think we would all agree there’s a lot more certainty in Colton as a third liner and scorer, they couldn’t just let Jeannot go.

Possibly also because Jeannot should make less than what Colton will in arbitration because he’s not shown reliable years of production. Just to reiterate, it’s fine to score 20 once, but Colton has been in that range for three years now. There’s a lot more confidence and likelihood that he will do it again, compared to Jeannot where it’s mostly just a hope and see.

Do we expect them to score more or less next season?

I expect Colton to get somewhere in the $2-3 million range with the Avalanche, either through arbitration or settling before. He’s a UFA after this season so the Avalanche might want to find some term and buy some UFA years if talks are positive.

Based on the Avs roster construction, Colton will likely be in that 7/8/9 spot on the third line, though the big wild card is an old friend/foe of the Lightning, Jonathan Drouin, who is a boom or bust free agency pickup for them at league minimum. The Avalanche have a deep roster, meaning icetime could be hard to come by, or they even out their minutes and everyone gets a chance to shine.

I don’t expect the Avalanche spent a 2nd round pick to put Colton on the fourth line, so an increase in his icetime is probably on the cards.

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