I’m not going to pretend to be a draft expert, so I won’t bore you with generic scouting reports on the players selected by the Colorado Avalanche past the first round. However, the draft wasn’t all about the draft for the Avs as they made arguably the biggest trade of the weekend and shook up their forward units in a big way. Let’s recap.
Colorado Avalanche selects Mikko Rantanen with the 10th Overall Pick
Avs management probably felt pretty fortunate that the number-one rated European prospect was still on the board at #10. Rantanen is a big forward that could be on the team as early as this upcoming season. He’s an offensively gifted winger who knows how to use his 6’4’’, 212 pound frame.
Despite his size, he’s not overly physical, but that doesn’t discourage me as he uses his body well to protect the puck and win board battles. Maybe he won’t hit everything that moves, but he’s not going to shy away from contact either. He plays a complete game, and one thing I noticed about him is how the puck always seems to find him. That tells me that he has a high hockey sense and is rarely out of position.
You can read Janik’s profile on Rantanen here.
And with that the O’Reilly nightmare is over. It’s a shame that the Avs had to give up McGinn in this trade, but who knows what kind of player he’ll be coming off back surgery that cut his season short last year. I think they really maximized O’Reilly’s trade value in this deal, getting back three young players, two of which could be in the lineup this season.
Head coach Patrick Roy was Grigorenko’s coach in juniors, so he knows all about his new young forward. Grigorenko, 21, was criticized often during his time in Buffalo, usually for his lazy play. I think he was thrown into the fire too quickly in Buffalo, and when he didn’t immediately succeed, his confidence went down. The expectations won’t be quite as high in Denver, where he’ll probably be a third line player. If Roy can get through to him like he did in Quebec, the could payoff huge for the Avs.
Zadorov, 20, is a big psychical defenseman with shutdown capabilities. He still has a lot to learn, but if handled correctly, he could become a force on the Avs blueline for years to come. He might start the season alongside Tyson Barrie, giving Barrie even more freedom on offense, knowing he has a 6’5’’, 221 pound monster covering him.
Compher, 20, will spend another year in college where he’ll serve as the captain for Michigan. He’s a a two-way player with a high compete level. If he turns into a prototypical third line shutdown center, he becomes a very valuable asset for the Avs.
The Avs actually ended up flipping the 31st overall pick to San Jose for the 39th overall pick, a second round pick in 2016, and a sixth round pick in 2017. The 2016 and 2017 picks were originally owned by the Avs and traded to San Jose for Brad Stuart. So if you’re scoring at home, the Avs gave up the 31st overall pick for the 39th overall pick and Brad Stuart.
Colorado Avalanche signs Carl Soderberg to a 5-year deal worth $24 million
When this deal was signed, it was a given that O’Reilly was a goner. People will say that the Avs overpaid for Soderberg, but everyone says that about every player signed by every team that isn’t their team. Soderberg would’ve gotten just as much from another team on the open market, so the Avs did well to acquire him for a 6th round pick, then getting him signed instead of getting into a bidding war.
Also, don’t be dumb enough to think that the Avs spent $4.75 million per year on Soderberg but were too cheap to pay O’Reilly $6 million per year. If O’Reilly wanted $6 million per year, he’d still be wearing #90 for the Avs, but he wanted upwards of $7.5 million per year, which the Avs rightfully walked away from.
Sakic says he envisions Soderberg playing on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, although Roy likes to break up his talent across three lines, which means Soderberg could technically be playing on the third line even though his linemates might be John Mitchell and Alex Tanguay.
In making the moves they did, the Avs now have $16.7 million in cap space to spend when the free agency market opens on July 1st. Part of that money will go towards re-signing restricted free agents Grigorenko, Joey Hishon, Stefan Elliott, and Calvin Pickard, but they’ll have over $10 million to sign a player or two in July.
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