Bo Byram, 19, to make NHL debut and Hunter Miska to start in goal for Avalanche

Two young players with a combined 18 minutes of NHL experience will play for the Avalanche in Thursday’s game at the Los Angeles Kings.

Teenage defenseman Bo Byram, the club’s top prospect, will make his NHL debut, and Hunter Miska, 25, will be the starting goaltender. Miska, who will be backed up by Philipp Grubauer as the Avs begin a consecutive-night stretch, played briefly in one game for the Arizona Coyotes in 2018-19.

Byram, 19, was selected by the Avalanche with the fourth pick of the 2019 draft. He learned of his pending NHL debut during the morning skate at Staples Center.

“I walked into the dressing room and the lineup was on the wall,” Byram said. “Little surprised but I was hoping it was coming soon.”

Byram was tipped off by veteran defenseman Erik Johnson, who will be a healthy scratch Thursday after missing all of training camp and the first two regular-season games because of COVID-19 protocol.

“EJ told me it was on the board. I didn’t know if he was kidding or not,” Byram said. “When I realized I was going, just really excited. It’s been a long-time coming. I’ve been dreaming of this for a long time. So it’s definitely exciting.”

Byram will be the second member of his family to play in the NHL. His father, Shawn Byram, played five games as a left winger for the New York Islanders (four) and Chicago Blackhawks (one) in the early 1990s.

“Hopefully, I can surpass my dad in games played,” Bo joked.

Most starting goalies don’t talk to media after game-day morning skates and Miska was not made available Thursday. Miska backed up Grubauer in Tuesday’s 3-2 win against the Kings after regular backup Pavel Francouz was injured in Monday’s practice.

Avs coach Jared Bednar said Francouz did not participate in Thursday’s morning skate.

“The injury to Francouz puts him in this position to get a start, but to be honest with you, he’s earned it,” Bednar said of Miska, who signed with the Avs as a free agent in 2019. “He’s been fantastic from Day 1 of training camp.”

Miska played one season of NCAA hockey for Minnesota-Duluth, and his final game was a 3-2 loss to the University of Denver in the 2017 national championship game. Miska signed with Arizona as an undrafted free agent and played two years in the Coyotes’ organization.

Footnotes. New defenseman Greg Pateryn, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Minnesota Wild, will make his debut with the Avs. … Winger Andre Burakovsky will miss his second consecutive game with an undisclosed injury and the Avalanche will again go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

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