Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy (right) talks with executive of hockey operations Joe Sakic (left) during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche Top First-Round Draft Prospects

“Thankfully, we’re not picking number one (in the draft), so that’s good.” — Joe Sakic
At one time, the Colorado Avalanche had the problem of not being high in the standings.

Executive vice president of hockey operations — remember when we just called him Mr. Clutch? –Joe Sakic prefers the Colorado Avalanche’s current problem — they’re not high in the draft selection. They’re #23, to be exact. Even the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks have higher picks.

Anyway, never mind — Colorado had enough years of choosing first (Nathan MacKinnon), second (Gabriel Landeskog) and third (Matt Duchene) overall, that it’s nice they had a season worthy of a #23 spot in the draft order.

So, like kids in a slightly picked over candy store, the Avs still have a few prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Brendan Lemieux, Left Wing

Brendan Lemieux, like his father before him, has been described as the “pefect agitator.”
Ok, for some reason head coach Patrick Roy pessimistically opined that Lemieux would be gone by the time the draft got around to Colorado. He’s ranked pretty solidly in the mid- to late-20s, so he could still be available. Of course, don’t put anything past the Minnesota Wild — if they know the Avs want him, they might pick him up just out of spite. (Just kidding.)

Anyway, he’s just who the Avalanche need — well, who they could use in a season or two once he matures in Lake Erie. Elite Prospects calls him the “perfect agitator.” Gee, I wonder where he learned that from — surely not from his perfect angel of a father, Claude. (He served his purpose in the Avs organization.)

The boy’s not just a nettle — he can score, too. Even better, though, he’s committed to defense. He told Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com:

“[My father and I] are two guys that try and think defense and then, in the playoffs, shutting down the big players and playing your best. I’m defensively committed but will also take it the other way.”

In fact, he feels most comfortable when playing in playoff games. That would be an asset to the Avs, for sure.

Plus, he’s pretty much a local boy. Detroit has their eyes on him, but… Well, maybe he’s still be around come #23′s turn to pick.

Ryan MacInnis, Center

Yes, the Avs need another center like they need Matt Cooke to line up against Matt Duchene. (Imagine!) However, Colorado has done a pretty good job of converting natural centers into wingmen — O’Reilly and MacKinnon anyone?

MacInnis — also the son of a hockey pro, in this case Al — fits Colorado’s brand of hockey. He’s described as being an instinctual player with solid positioning. He has mobility and speed and knows how to generate scoring chances.

He’d fit on the Avs except… does the Avs Nation really need the further confusion of MacInnis joining McGinn, MacKinnon and Geunin? NHL Central Scouting has him ranked at #20, so this son-of-a-pro may get snapped up before Colorado gets to pick anyway.

Nikolay Goldobin, Left Wing

Despite the fact that, as captain Gabe Landeskog put it, the Avs are a “run and gun” team, they’re not big on the obvious “runners and gunners” in the league — European forwards. Sure, there’s Gabe, and then…. a whole lot of North Americans up front.

Russian-born Goldobin would be an answer to that problem. He’s speedy. He’s creative. He’s a sharp shot. Run and gun.

The problem is, he’s not that big. He’s 6-foot-1 but only 178 pounds. Of course, he’s also only 18, so he’d be sure to bulk up a bit with the Monsters. Central Scouting has him ranked 24th — he might just be the Avalanche’s guy.

 

No Defensemen

“We’re not that far on defense.” — Patrick Roy.
No defense draft prospects — not in the first round anyway. No sense in speculating on the two or three — Brycen Martin, Roland McKeown… — likely defensive prospects as the Avalanche are unlikely to choose one in the first round. Patrick Roy said in the June 19 press conference at Pepsi Center, “We’re not that far on defense.”

He was referring to a question about whether “shoring up” the blue line was a priority for the organization. Mr. Clutch, er, Sakic said they’d be happy to improve at any position, but Roy was pretty certain about what he wanted in his defensive core: Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nick Holden and the like.

Plus, the Avs aren’t rebuilding anymore. Last season was the dress rehearsal, and now the Avalanche are stepping back onto the center stage of contenders. They won’t want to wait three or four years for a defenseman to mature. At most they’ll pick one up as a free agent — but that’s a topic for another post.

Tags: 2014 NHL Draft Colorado Avalanche Colorado Avalanche Draft Prospects

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