3. Gabriel Vilardi
2016-17 Team: Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Date of Birth: August 16, 1999 (17 years old)
Wt: 192 lbs
Center Gabriel Vilardi is expected to go in the top-five in this year’s draft. He’s a top contender for the #3 spot, but he could drop as low as #5.
If the Colorado Avalanche choose best player available, that man may be Gabriel Vilardi.
What holds him back from being a shoe-in for the Avs — besides the fact the Stars may select him — is that he’s not known for having elite skating skills. The general consensus is that he skates well for someone his size. He’s considered more quick and powerful than speedy and agile.
That said, he’s scouted well because he’s got a strong two-way game. Scouting reports and his own coach point out that he’s a Corsi darling because he elevates his teammates.
As Ben Kerr of Last Word on Sports describes Vilardi, he uses his long reach and puck handling to get the puck to teammates, making him an excellent playmaker. He’s also great on the backcheck.
Matt Ryan at NHL Central Scouting describes Vilardi thus:
"“He’s very composed with the puck, and uses his vision and playmaking ability to influence the game in all three zones. He excels below the dots in the offensive zone where he uses his size and reach to dictate the play and generate scoring opportunities.”"
As I pointed out in my draft profile of Gabe Vilardi, he doesn’t precisely fit the Colorado Avalanche mold. However, the team has been moving more toward analytics, so that may entice them.
What’s more, of all the players on this list, Gabriel Vilardi seems the most ready and free to jump into the NHL quickly. That, along with his being the best available might get him drafted by the Avs — but they may have a couple other players ahead of them on their list.