Colorado Avalanche Seem Likely to Draft Gabriel Vilardi

Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The NHL entry draft is quickly approaching and the Colorado Avalanche seem destined to draft Gabriel Vilardi.

By now, you’ve all read the news about the Colorado Avalanche pursuing Windsor Spitfires executive and general manager Warren Rychel. He’s billed as a potential front-office option for the Avs, and symbolizes a shift in team management.

However, with the rumors also comes a clear draft direction for the Colorado Avalanche. In other words, Gabe Vilardi is likely to be their selection with the fourth overall pick.

Unfortunately for the Avs, they have no chance at the clear top two prospects in this year’s draft, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick. However, Vilardi still provides an extremely viable option at No. 4. As you can tell, he’s definitely garnering attention (pictured above with Patrick, Hischier and fellow top prospect Casey Mittelstadt).

First, let’s address the top two needs the Avalanche have:

  1. A No. 1 defenseman, one ready now, or one ready for that role in the near future.
  2. A right-handed shooter for the top six.

Personally, I am of the dark-horse ilk that says Nick Suzuki is the best option for the Avalanche.

Related Story: Avalanche Should Draft Nick Suzuki

With that being said, I would by no means be disappointed if the Avs chose Gabe Vilardi. One, he’s a right-hand shot, so he can fit in the top six on the right wing, which is a must for the Avs.

Two, he’s probably the best two-way forward in this year’s draft, and since Ryan O’Reilly left the Avs have been sorely missing that type of forward.

However, it is his ties to Warren Rychel that ultimately make him the most likely option to come off the board at No. 4.

The Interest in Warren Rychel Absolutely Means An Interest in Gabe Vilardi

The connection between the Avalanche and Rychel is an easy one to make. He won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1996 alongside Joe Sakic, and played in Burgundy and Blue on two separate occasions.

He has also won three Memorial Cups as an executive and general manager of the Spitfires — including one this year — so the experience is there. Sound familiar? Yeah, Patrick Roy was a pretty successful team owner and general manager in the QMJHL before joining the Avalanche.

However, that is not meant to discount Rychel’s ability to be an effective manager of young talent. And, that’s exactly what the Avs need right now, a front-office individual who is capable of managing young players.

While they’re at it, why not add a voice to the team that knows the player they want to draft in this year’s draft better than most?

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Of course this is all speculation, but the more you think about the more it makes sense, right? For one, drafting Nick Suzuki with the fourth overall pick would be an off-the-board selection. Two, Gabe Vilardi is ranked as a top five prospect, so he makes a lot of sense.

Furthermore, if he had played in as many games as Nico Hischier this year, he would have put up 80 points in the OHL. Granted, it wasn’t his first year in the CHL as it was for Hischier, which explains the separation between the two. Regardless, Vilardi is quite obviously a gifted player who possesses some serious intangibles.

Here’s what Spitfires’ coach Rocky Thompson has to say about the young man:

"The enhanced stats tell us [Vilardi] is the engine on this team because whoever plays with him, their Corsi numbers go straight up and are increased,” explained Thompson. “Without him, they drop significantly. One common theme has been Vilardi’s ability to make the players with him even better."

The kid elevates the play of those around him, something the Avalanche need on their team. Furthermore, he can the play the wing or center, a versatility the teams needs. Finally, he’s a right-hand shot. And, the Avs have no top-six talent in their system currently capable of fulfilling the need they have for right wing talent.


The point is, the Avalanche are actively seeking front-office help in Warren Rychel, and he knows what it is like to watch Gabe Vilardi first-hand. Vilardi is also a well-rounded skater for his size, and possesses an elite set of skill, something the Avs are particularly keen on right now.

Here’s what Elite Prospects has to say about the young man:

"A dangerous two-way center that stays poised, calm, and composed in all situations. Skates well for his size and has no issues getting into position. Individual puck skills are at an elite level and he is able to play a finesse role. Makes excellent decisions with the puck and showcases a well-rounded understanding of both the offensive and defensive game. Uses his size to his advantage and keeps the opposition guessing because he is able to do so many different things, including: taking it himself to the net and powering through, making a seeing-eye pass, or holding off to piggyback a possession play. He already plays a mature yet dynamic game, and that indicates success for a long time at higher levels. All-in-all, a dexterous 200-foot player that is a consistent threat every time he is on the ice."

Don’t get me wrong, I stand by my opinion on Nick Suzuki as the best option for the Avs. However, I would be extremely pleased if they pick Gabe Vilardi. He’s still a right-hand shot, and is going to be a special player in this league. Plus, the Avs are certainly in need of a skilled two-way player.

Next: Worse Case Expansion Draft Scenario for the Avalanche

It’s going to be interesting to see who they eventually end up picking in this year’s draft. At this point, all signs point to Gabe Vilardi, and that becomes even more likely if they do end up signing Warren Rychel to a contract in the front office.

Hold on tight folks, things are about to get crazy.