Colorado Avalanche: Grading The 2015 Draft Class


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The Colorado Avalanche were one of the teams that made a big splash at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, starting the weekend with the long-awaited Ryan O’Reilly trade. It is hard to tell if there is a winner and a loser to this trade and it will all depend on how well prospects Mikhail Grigorenko, J.T. Compher, Nikita Zadorov and A.J. Greer will turn out.

However, the trade was not the only coup the Colorado Avalanche landed on draft weekend. They selected No. 1 European skater Mikko Rantanen from Finland and added some other very good prospects to the system. So let’s take a look at who was selected and how we can grade those selections.

Round 1, 10th overall — C/W Mikko Rantanen (TPS, Finland)

Mikko Rantanen is a big forward with exceptional skill and he was our selection in the FanSided mock draft. The Colorado Avalanche was extremely lucky that Rantanen was still available with pick No. 10, as many rankings and mock drafts, including my own, had him going higher than tenth.

The Finn has been playing professional hockey ever since he was 16 and can likely join the Avalanche for the 2014-15 season. If not, he is also AHL-eligible. Rantanen projects as a top-line scorer, but could also play in a shutdown bottom-line role, if he doesn’t pan out as a scorer.

Full player profile: here.

Grade: A+

Round 2, 39th overall — LW A.J. Greer (Boston University, NCAA)

The Colorado Avalanche received the 31st overall pick in the O’Reilly trade, but gave it to the San José Sharks in exchange for this pick, a 2016 second round pick and a 2017 sixth round pick. Therefore, that deal also has to be taken into account when grading this selection.

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A.J. Greer is a hit-or-miss player and a love-it-or-hate-it pick. Taking him in the second round was a bit of a reach. He played like a true freshman at Boston University, scoring only three goals in 37 games.

He has the tools to succeed, but is still very raw and needs time to develop. I would have really liked the pick one round later, but have a rather long list of players I would have preferred here.

There were many, many players still on the board that arguably show more potential or at least seem to be “safer picks”, including PG Cougar Jansen Harkins (47th to WPG). Had they stayed put at No. 31, they would have had the chance to choose from Paul Bittner (38th to CBJ), Jérémy Roy (31st to SJS) and Brandon Carlo (37th to BOS). However, the deal brought them another second round pick next year, which raises the grade, and Greer has a lot of potential as well.

Full player profile: here.

Grade: C+

Round 2, 40th overall — D Nicholas Meloche (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL)

Nicholas Meloche is a very good pick. Considering that the Avalanche selected two forwards with the first two picks, it was time to take a chance at one of the many defensemen in the draft. Meloche may in fact turn out to be a better player than for example Brandon Carlo, which would justify selecting A.J. Greer instead of one of them.

There were still some players I rather would have had here, but I would have been fine with one of them instead of Greer. If you want a D-man with this pick, Meloche is a great selection.

Full player profile: here.

Grade: B+

Round 3, 71st overall — C Jean-Christophe Beaudin (Rouyn-Noranda, QMJHL)

Jean-Christophe Beaudin not only has a wonderful name, but he is also a solid selection. He is fairly big, which seemed to be a very important criteria for the Avs on draft day, and is a very skilled forward. While it may just be personal preference, I believe that there would have been at least one even better option that would also fit in the Avalanche’s philosophy.

My No. 1 choice here would have been Alexander Dergachev (74th to LAK), but I guess Beaudin is a safer pick because of the “Russian factor” you have with Dergachev. I also would have liked the Avalanche to take a chance on Conor Garland as early as with this pick, but I guess at seven inches shorter than Dergachev, Garland does not exactly fit in the Avalanche’s philosophy. Beaudin is another solid selection.

Grade: B

Round 4, 101st overall — D Andrei Mironov (Dynamo Moscow, KHL)

Speaking of the “Russian factor”, the Avalanche took a chance on Russian defenseman Andrei Mironov in the fourth round. He is already 20 years old and has finally found an NHL club that likes him enough. Mironov has been playing in the KHL for three full seasons now, which should allow him to join the Avalanche or San Antonio Rampage very soon — if he decides to come over to North America.

Again, there were some other players left on the board that I really like, including Filip Ahl (109th to OTT) and again Conor Garland. However, I am also a fan of this selection.

Grade: A-

Round 6, 161st overall — D Sergei Boikov (Drummondville, QMJHL)

One round later, the Avalanche went with another Russian defenseman in Sergei Boikov. This time around, however, I am not as much of a fan of the pick. Bobkov is a decent shutdown D-man from the QMJHL that has decent size and is, well, decent at many things. However, he is not really great at anything — except for maybe fighting. There would have been players with more potential available.

Grade: C+

Round 7, 191st overall — C/LW Gustav Olhaver (Rögle, SuperElit)

The Colorado Avalanche finished their draft with the selection of a huge Swedish forward. He was one of my favorites for the late rounds and I am glad that it worked out. The seventh round usually does not bring too many NHL players into the league, so it is the perfect round to take a chance at whoever you like.

We all know what the Colorado Avalanche like and that is size. At 6-foot-6, Olhaver would be one of the biggest players in the league if he ever makes it and he was well worth the pick.

Full player profile: here.

Grade: A

Overall grade

The Colorado Avalanche did a really, really good job in the 2015 NHL Draft, at least judging by what we know now. As the past drafts have tended to be anything but successful (check out our series of redrafts here), this is very pleasant news.

Mikko Rantanen has the potential to turn into one of the best player of the draft — let’s maybe leave out Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel here — and could be one of the Colorado Avalanche’s faces for years to come. A.J. Greer was definitely a reach, but he could turn out well, too. The rest of the picks was at least solid as well. Therefore, we can give the Colorado Avalanche a very good overall grade.

Grade: B+

What do you think of the Avalanche’s 2015 draft class? Let us know in the comment section!

Next: Avalanche Free Agent Targets After Draft

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