Though the deal had already been reported by CapFriendly yesterday, Keaton Middleton has now been officially announced as the latest signing by the Colorado Avalanche. The young defenseman has inked a two-year entry-level contract that will kick in right away, making him eligible for recall by the Avalanche if necessary.
Middleton, 23, was actually a draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, but after two more years at the OHL level failed to sign a contract with them. After grinding in the AHL for two seasons with the San Jose Barracuda, he arrived in Colorado to play for the Eagles this year on a minor league deal. Now, after 14 games there and nearly five years since being drafted, Middleton has his first NHL contract.
The 6’5″ defenseman has never been a big offensive weapon, recording just 27 points in 116 AHL games, but adds an element of physicality and a calm defensive game. His skating, while not elite, is still good for a player of his size and that can help his long reach end rushes quickly. It seems unlikely that he’ll ever be an impact player for the Avalanche, but the team has a very good history of developing defensemen and perhaps sees a role for him down the line.