Colorado Avalanche Could Trade a 1st-Overall with Arizona

Nov 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; NHL linesman Lonnie Cameron (74) breaks up a fight between Arizona Coyotes center Ryan White (25) and Colorado Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod (55) in the first period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; NHL linesman Lonnie Cameron (74) breaks up a fight between Arizona Coyotes center Ryan White (25) and Colorado Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod (55) in the first period at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

If the Colorado Avalanche win the first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Arizona Coyotes could be potential trade partners.

The Colorado Avalanche haven’t secured the first-overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft just yet. The Draft Lottery takes place on Saturday, April 29, with results being broadcast just after 6:00 pm MDT.

However, the Avalanche have the best shot at winning the first-overall — just under 18%. Failing that, they have the best shot at winning the second-overall or third-overall as the draft lottery moves down the list. The farthest Colorado can fall is fourth-overall.

Read how the NHL Draft Lottery works:

Related Story: Key Points About the Draft Lottery for the Avs

Forward Nolan Patrick is scouted to go first-overall in this year’s draft. Patrick is an excellent player. However, everyone agrees he’s not a generational talent such as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. Indeed, USA Today opined that Patrick would have gone third in either of those drafts, with Jack Eichel (2015) and Patrik Laine (2016) going before Nolan.

If the Colorado Avalanche get the first-overall pick and draft Nolan Patrick, the team will be better. However, there’s another option — Colorado could trade the first-overall.

History of Trading First-Overall

I’ve been in love with the idea of the Colorado Avalanche trading the first-overall since it became evident they might have the best shot of getting it this year. So, you know, January.

Anyway, hockey GMs trade picks all the time, kind of like marbles. However, they rarely trade the first-overall. It’s only happened a handful of times, with the most recent being in 2003.

In that year, the Florida Panthers had the first-overall. They traded it to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third-overall, a second-rounder and Mikael Samuelsson. (The Pens chose goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with that selection, while the Panthers chose right wing Nathan Horton with #3. Oops.)

The first-overall got traded the year before, too. Florida was also part of that trade. They once again traded their first-overall, this time to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They got the third-overall and the right to swap picks in the 2003 draft. (Columbus chose forward Rick Nash, while Florida got Jay Bouwmeester.)

An interesting — and complicated — trade happened in 1999. That was another year that wasn’t considered stellar for the draft. The trade was a three-step, four-team deal:

  • The Vancouver Canucks sent Bryan McCabe and a future first-rounder (#11) to the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks sent back the #4 pick.
  • The Vancouver Canucks sent the #4 pick and two third-round picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first-overall.
  • The Vancouver Canucks sent the first-overall to the Atlanta Thrashers for the second-overall and a third-rounder.

Basically, the Canucks wanted the Sedin twins and were willing to do all of the above to make it happen. I mean, Vancouver has built their team around the twins ever since, so they probably consider it worthwhile. (Patrik Stefan went first-overall and is considered one of the biggest draft busts.)

I don’t know that Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic has such a specific target in mind in this year’s draft. However, the team has a shallow prospect pool in every position. Colorado also needs help on defense. Plus, they’re in the middle of transitioning to a new style of rebuild, so Sakic might thing more (picks) is more in this scenario.

Related Story: Avs Could Trade 1st-Overall to Vegas

Trade with the Arizona Coyotes

This scenario was inspired by a regular reader (and commenter) sweetmamalou. Here is the proposition from the comments board of one of Ross’s posts:

"Lets say the Avs get the top pick….and Arizona gets 4…Arizona also has the 27th pick in the first round. If I was Joe I might offer the top pick to Arizona. You could get a top forward at 4 and maybe a good D prospect at 27….and if you really want Foote trade the 27 and your 2nd rounder….and try to move up."

So, this looks a little like the 2003 trade. Colorado trades the first-overall to Arizona for picks #4 and #27. Those are two first-round picks, so the Avalanche might have to sweeten the pot with a third-rounder, as the Panthers did.

The Arizona Coyotes had the third-worst record in the NHL. The Las Vegas Golden Knights have the same odds as Arizona at the first three picks. Vegas is guaranteed to fall no farther than #6. Worst case scenario the Coyotes fall all the way to #7. In that case, I would say the Avs get #7 and #27 for #1 alone — and Arizona may have to sweeten the pot with a late rounder.

Draft Scenarios After Trade

Let’s look at the first scenario. The Colorado Avalanche have the #4 and #27 picks. Colorado could use #4 to choose center Casey Mittelstadt (high compete level) and pray defenseman Callan Foote is still available at #27. (He’s ranked #12 among North American skaters and scouted to go between #9 to #26, making him unlikely at the #27 spot.)

If the worst case (for Arizona) scenario happens, and Colorado ends up with the #7 and #27 picks after a trade, I’d like to see them roll the dice on defenseman Timothy Liljegren (creative offensive defense). They probably wouldn’t, though, because the whole Duncan Siemens situation (#11 in 2011, just three NHL games) can’t have sweetened them to the idea of drafting defensemen high.

I think it would be more likely the Colorado Avalanche would use the #7 pick to select a forward. Ideally they’d choose Gabriel Vilardi (statistical wizard), but Michael Rasmussen (giant) or Cody Glass are more likely to still be available.

On to the #27 pick, which the Minnesota Wild traded to Arizona in a package whose big return was center Martin Hanzal.

Forward Klim Kostin is scouted as the best European skater by Central Scouting but might drop as low as #23. Weirdly, defenseman Miro Heiskanen is ranked as the #4 European skater but drops only to #11 on draft lists. Timothy Liljegren is ranked #6 among Euros by Central Scouting but isn’t expected to fall any lower than #8 in the draft.

Any four of those players could be available at #27, or none of them could. Other notable prospects from this year’s draft that might be available at #27 include defenseman Nicolas Hague, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, right wing Ivan Lodnia, right wing Nick Henry… The list goes on and on.

In that case, I’d rather see the Colorado Avalanche trade the #27 pick. They could get a defensive prospect from a team like the Anaheim Ducks, who are filthy with d prospects. They could get a couple of middle rounders to fill the prospect pool. Maybe it would even be worth trading toward the 2018 NHL draft.

As the USA Today article points out, this shallow draft year means the ranking beyond the first few picks is largely dependent on teams’ viewpoints. In other words, every team will have its own ranking of prospects, and it could vary wildly depending on that team’s needs. A #27 player to the Colorado Avalanche could be a #11 player to one team and a second rounder to another.

Next: Avs Must Draft Cal Foote

The Colorado Avalanche are going to improve their roster with the 2017 NHL Draft, which takes place June 23-24 in Chicago. With a little luck (winning the first-overall) and a little savvy (trading), the team could add some really good pieces toward their rebuild.