Who do you want the Avs to pick 4th-overall?
The first question I asked was who each writer wanted for the Colorado Avalanche to select fourth-overall.
No surprise, fellow editor Ross Sellers is still on his Nick Suzuki kick:
The more I think about it, the more I want the Colorado Avalanche to go off the board a bit and pick Nick Suzuki. For more on that pick, check out my post on the kid. To me, it’s baffling that he is not ranked in the top five of this year’s draft. He’s still just 17 years old, scored more goals than Owen Tippett, led all first year draft eligible players in points in the OHL and has some serious defensive skills to boot. If they do this, they can still make that trade for the Carolina Hurricanes’ No. 12 pick, and go after Cal Foote.
Current staff writer Mark Kinz went a more traditional route — defense:
If Miro Heiskanen is still available by some miracle, I would love for the Avs to draft him. As much as it pains me to say it, Erik Johnson is pushing 30, and could be on his way out if indeed the Avs are moving towards a fully-fledged youth movement. If that’s the case, they’ll need to find another top defenseman to fill the gap left by EJ, and a confident blueliner like Heiskanen could be that guy.
Former MHS writer Daniel Henderson concurs:
It hurts me a bit to choose Heiskanen since I got pretty attached to one of the other players, however if Heiskanen slips past Dallas I think it would be extremely foolish to pick anyone else.
Heiskanen is a mobile defenseman who moves the puck effectively and has great hockey sense.
The biggest criticism against him is that he’s a bit on the smaller size for a top pairing guy as he’s listed as only 5’11”. However, he doesn’t play like he’s 5’11” and his stock as been skyrocketing. Heiskanen had a massive U18s where he flat out dominated other top ranked players. He scored 12 points in 7 games and according to scouts was by far the most noticeable player on the ice.
Some might say that its a bad idea to place so much weight on a single tournament, which I would usually agree with, but in this case its one of the rare times we’ve got to see him against players his own age. Over the regular season he plays in Finland’s top league (Liiga) where he’s been playing top pairing minutes against men. This is the same league that produced Laine, Puljujarvi and Rantanen.
Just for reference, Laine scored 33 points in 46 games, Puljujarvi scored 28 points in 50 games and Rantanen scored 28 points in 56 games in their respective draft years. Heiskanen scored 10 points in 37 games as a defenseman who doesn’t even play on the top powerplay unit. Those are extremely encouraging numbers for a 17 year old in a professional league and there’s good reason to believe that he’ll be a top pairing defenseman in the NHL.
Another former MHS writer, Joe Faul, went in a different direction:
I want the Avs to take Casey Mittelstadt. I think that he will be electric on the power play and he is already very strong when it comes to the transition game. He has been very successful at the collegiate level as well as at USHL.
For me, I haven’t moved from my conviction that the Colorado Avalanche should select forward Gabriel Vilardi if he’s still available at #4. It’s true he’s known for being the speediest player on the ice, but he’s a big, mobile two-way player with a high ceiling. As I pointed out in my blueprint post, the Avs desperately need a good two-way player.
What’s more, Vilardi is one of the players who’s closest to being NHL-ready. I could see him making the roster out of training camp, or at least at some point next season. It would be nice to get help from Colorado’s high pick sooner rather than later.