Colorado Avalanche: A Draft of Surprises

Colorado Avalanche 2010 Entry Draft Selections:

17. Joey Hishon – Center – Owen Sound (OHL)

47. Calvin Pickard – Goaltender – Seattle (WHL)

71. Michael Bournival – Left Wing – Shawinigan (QMJHL)

95. Stephen Silas – Defenseman – Belleville (OHL)

107. Sami Aittokallio – Goaltender – Ilves-Jr. (Finland-Jr.)

137. Troy Rutkowski – Defenseman – Portland (WHL)

139. Luke Walker – Right Wing – Portland (WHL)

197. Luke Moffatt – Center – USA U-18 (USHL)

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: A view of the draft boards during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Photo Courtesy of Yardbarker.com

Seeing as last season’s Entry Draft was the most exciting draft in Avalanche history, it’s no surprise it was also the first one I watched myself. Last weekend I enjoyed my second one, and I realized that no two drafts are the same, at least not for an organization that is on the rebuilding fast track. Last year’s draft was exciting because we knew, whether it was going to be John Tavares, Victor Hedman, or, the most likely outcome, Matt Duchene, we knew we were getting a great player. That happens when you pick top three.

Due largely to our success in last year’s draft, we found ourselves this year in a much worse position, draft-wise, because, despite some draft-lovers’ notions, the goal of an NHL team isn’t to have a lottery pick at the end of every year. No, this year we made the playoffs, and in doing so, dropped 14 spots to pick at lucky number 17.

Last year, we had the easiest job in all the draft. Pick the last of the Big-3 not taken by New York or Tampa Bay. This year, it got a little more complicated, and there were a whole plethora of potential options. Now, if you’ve been spending the last several weeks studying draft rankings and reading prospect profiles like I have, I’m sure you went into the draft with a pretty good idea of what kind of players would be available to us at our spot. I spent a lot of time studying the opinions of Central Scouting, a notable draft organization that ranks players in North American and Europe, splitting up the skaters and goaltenders. I knew we were looking at potentially guys like Dylan McIlrath, Jack Campbell, Emerson Etem, or Austin Watson. I even profiled the first two guys as my top two choices, and chose Campbell in our Fansided Mock Draft.

Of course, if this draft has taught us anything, it’s that we really don’t know anything.

Both of my choices were gone after the first eleven picks (McIlrath to the Rangers and Campbell to the Stars). Then, as our suit announced the pick, with Etem and Watson still on the board, I was in shock to hear a name I was actually unfamiliar with. Weeks of studying and preparing, for what?! To hear a guy’s name I’d never heard before? My initial reaction was not unlike most of yours, I’m sure. “Joey Hishon? Who is this guy, and why didn’t we trade down?”

But forgive us, Avs scouts, for our premature evaluation. That was the Central Scouting kool-aid talking. People were upset we passed on Etem, although his name name was skipped eleven more times before he was finally called at the penultimate pick of the first round. Only a small minority of Avs fans have the geographical advantage our financial dedication to actually watch these prospects on a regular basis to judge what kind of players these kids are. So we do what the rest of the hockey world does, we leave it up to the scouts, and base our opinions off of their opinions. The problem with that is, they’re just opinions, and the Avs’ scouts have their own opinions as well.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I think I’d rather through my lot in with the guys who found players like Ryan O’Reilly and Paul Stastny in the second round over the guys who had a former OHL Western Conference Playmaker of the Year and Stickhandler of the Year ranked as their 55th best North American skater. Yeah, that’s our guy Hishon, in case you didn’t know, but I’ll get to that later.

As it stands, it’s impossible to fairly judge how well this draft went for the Colorado Avalanche for at least another five years. But here’s something to think about if you still can’t get past Central Scouting’s low ranking of our first round pick. According to the draft agency, of our eight selections, three of them were seen as second round values (Hishon, Rutkowski, Silas), and two others were the top goaltending prospects in both North America and Europe (Pickard and Aittokallio, respectively).

After some research and time to reflect, I’d say this draft has an opportunity to be one for the ages.

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