Jun 27, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Conner Bleackley poses for a photo with team officials after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Conner Bleackley selected #23 by Colorado Avalanche

With the #23 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected Conner Bleackley, a center from the Red Deer Rebels.

At 18-years old, Bleackley was the captain of the Rebels last season and led the team with 29 goals and 68 points in 71 games. Bleackley is described as a tough two-way player who does all the little things well. He’s a high character player with leadership qualities and a high hockey IQ.

Bleackley grew up a Colorado Avalanche fan and named Joe Sakic as his favorite player

The Avalanche are already deep at center in their prospect pipeline, but position shouldn’t concern fans. Bleackley is an extremely hard worker who can adapt and will put the team first. So if he’s asked to move to the wing, he’ll do it, no questions asked. He’s your prototypical shutdown forward who can also chip in offensively. He needs to improve his skating, but given his work ethic, I don’t expect that to be a problem.

That fact that he was named captain of the Rebels at 18 and in his second season under Brent Sutter, a former NHL head coach who never had a losing season, says all you need to know about his leadership and character.

It’s unlikely that Bleackley will make the Avalanche roster next season, but that might not be a bad thing. Another year under Sutter and a chance to prove that his offense outbreak in 2013-2014 could really benefit him the following season, when it’s very possible that he’ll be competing for a roster spot.

Welcome to the Avalanche Family, Conner Bleackley

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