Conor Garland: Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft Profile


Conor Garland: Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft Profile

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The 2014-15 season was unfortunately cut short for the Colorado Avalanche. That means that here at Mile High Sticking, we have a long off-season ahead of us. While the off-season is filled with all different kinds of articles, regarding the playoffs (that we are unfortunately not a part of), Avalanche season reviews, and many other things, it also gives us time to focus on the Colorado Avalanche 2015 NHL Draft.

Today we are taking a look at someone who is quite possibly the most interesting and most underrated player in the draft — QMJHL forward Conor Garland.

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Name: Conor Garland

Position: Right wing

Shoots: Right

Height, weight: 5’8″, 165 lbs

Team/League: Moncton Wildcats, QMJHL

Stats (from 













Risk, Reward: 4/5, 5/5

NHL-potential: Top-six forward

Draft Range: Anywhere between rounds 2 and 7

Scouting report

Conor Garland is eligible for the NHL Draft for the second time, as he was passed over in 2014. However, things have changed since then and Garland, a 5-foot-8 forward, is now a player that simply should not be passed on by 30 teams through seven rounds again.

Let’s just start with the very obvious. Last season, Garland scored 24 goals and 54 points in 51 games. While that would be decent stats for most other players in their draft year, i.e. Jansen Harkins had 79 points in 70 games, it wasn’t for Garland. The reason for that is quite simply his size.

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While there are more and more players in the NHL that are proving that size is not everything, there is still that fear that smaller players could be without a chance against physically superior players in professional hockey. For teams to take a chance at a player Conor Garland’s size, the production must be way higher. And as I said, things changed for Garland. In the 2014-15 campaign, he recorded eleven more goals than last season and tripled his assists, resulting in 35 goals and 129 points.

Garland, QMJHL top-scorer and league MVP, has an incredible amount of skill, paired with extremely good hockey sense. He skates very well and has a powerful first stride, although his top-speed could be better.

There are few things that stand out about Garland above all else. Firstly, he is extremely dedicated, which is a necessity if he wants to succeed in the NHL at his size. Moncton coach Darren Rumble has the following to say about Garland.

"“Conor is one of the most exciting players I have ever seen. His dedication to being a complete 200-foot player has been a huge part of his success. His commitment to conditioning has led to a great consistency. The sky is the limit for Conor’s future in hockey.”"

Secondly, Garland has some of the best puckhandling skills in the entire draft-class. He has no issues getting past his opponents with dekes, despite his small frame. He has gotten stronger on his skates and is not scared of being hit.

Last but not least, Garland has outstanding hockey sense and vision. His 94 assists are not a product of luck, but that of his vision paired with very good passing. He sees the ice better than anyone else on the ice and is always ahead of the play.

Garland has indeed gotten stronger since last season. He is obviously not the most physical player, but he is not afraid of getting into the dirty areas and even drops his gloves every once in a while. Nevertheless, he does get pushed around a fair bit and his size can be a disadvantage. However, it is nothing that cannot be overcome with skill.

If you want a forward that is defensively reliable and plays a physical style, Conor Garland is not the one. If you want a skilled forward with superstar potential, though, he is totally worth taking a shot at.

Garland is the first player since Alex Radulov to have recorded over 90 assists in one QMJHL season. Furthermore, he outscored teammate Jack Eichel in his bantam season with the Boston Jr. Bruins. If Garland was four inches taller, he would easily be at least a second round pick this year. But since he isn’t, we will have to see how early a team takes a shot at him.

Fit with the Avalanche

Conor Garland’s frame is basically the exact opposite of what Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy wants. However, when you have the chance to pick an elite forward with a mid-round pick, how long can you pass on him because of size concerns?

Garland may struggle against big defensemen. But we don’t have to expect him to become the NHL’s next player to crush the 100-point mark. He is totally worth a shot and players like Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau have proven that they can succeed in the NHL.

If paired with offensive players like Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly, I am completely certain that Garland will be able to contribute at the NHL level. He won’t be the guy for the penalty kill, but that is not what we are looking for here.

The higher Garland gets drafted, the more risk there is. However, I would not mind the Avalanche taking him with their third round pick or later. I would even invest a second round pick for him, but maybe not the 40th overall pick that the Avalanche own.

More Draft Coverage:

2015 NHL Draft Profile List

Jérémy Lauzon

Brandon Carlo

Pavel Zacha

Timo Meier

Mikko Rantanen

Zach Werenski

Revisiting Avalanche Early Draft Options

Next: Draft Profile: Filip Ahl