Colorado Avalanche Have Many NHL Draft Scenarios in Play

Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tyson Jost poses for a photo after being selected as the number ten overall draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 24, 2016; Buffalo, NY, USA; Tyson Jost poses for a photo after being selected as the number ten overall draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft at the First Niagra Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have at least a dozen scenarios for their fourth-overall pick, including trading it for more picks.

The Colorado Avalanche have the fourth-overall draft pick at the moment, but perhaps they could trade down. Or they might trade a core player for more picks.

The Avs might make no trades, but they still have a lot of scenarios in play when it comes to the 2017 NHL Draft. There are a couple of reasons so much is in the air this year. First, this isn’t considered a stellar draft class — after the first two, the next 10 prospects are pretty equal. Second, Colorado has been changing over to a new style of player, so the old mold doesn’t fit anymore.

Plus, the Avs lost the Draft Lottery. They fell all the way to the fourth position besides being the pauper of the NHL in depth. They are hopefully doing anything they can to start digging out of that hole.

Colorado Avalanche Scouting Report

More from Mile High Sticking

The Avalanche’s amateur Alan Hepple scout spoke a couple times recently to the media. In both interviews he emphasized that the team is looking for players who have “speed, skill and hockey sense.” He remarked that NHL games were a “track meet” every night, so players had to skate fast.

However, he also stated that skating fast wasn’t enough. Players had to be able to “think fast” — they had to have good hockey sense. He didn’t speak so much about what kind of skills the team was looking for, but we can presume scoring.

He also stated more than once that the team was going for “best player available” in the first and second round. The Avs don’t have a third rounder, but Hepple remarked the fourth round is where the team might start drafting for specific needs. He mentioned defense specifically.

A couple of interesting aspects of his scouting is that he stated the Avs consider the #32 pick as “basically a first rounder.” He talked about that #32 almost more than the #4, which suggests the team has been considering very carefully who they’re drafting at that position.

Finally, during his interview with Vic Lombardi of Altitude Sports, Hepple joked that the Colorado Avalanche have “about 12 different scenarios” for the fourth-overall pick. It depends a lot on what the top three teams do.

Trading Down

In a way, it might make sense for the Colorado Avalanche to trade down. There isn’t a lot of distinction in talent and ceiling even in the top 15 prospects this year. The Avs could trade their fourth-overall for a lower first rounder and a second rounder.

This doesn’t sound like the Avalanche’s preferred scenario. Here’s what Hepple said on Altitude Sports:

"“Anything’s possible. You’re always interested in listening to what other teams have to offer. We’re ready for that as well. When you move back and pick up some more picks, we’re ready for that.”"

I think the only way this happens is with a team in the top 15, so maybe Vancouver, Las Vegas, Arizona, Buffalo, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles or Carolina.

I’d say the Vegas Golden Knights (I just realized they don’t use the Las, which is stupid) are a good bet because they seem to have acquired about half the picks in the first two rounds. No, really, the Knights have five picks in the first two rounds. Why couldn’t Joe Sakic do something like that?

Anyway, they could trade for Vegas’ newly acquired #13 and either #34 or their newly acquired #45. That would give the Avs the chance to still get a good forward — maybe even Cody Glass or Owen Tippett — plus another run at a second rounder.

Who Colorado Avalanche Pick at #4

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It’s possible the Colorado Avalanche keep their fourth-overall and acquire extra picks via trade. Of course, the big name in the rumor mill is Matt Duchene. Naturally, the Avs better get a whole lot more back than a couple of second rounders.

In any case, one thing Hepple said in his Altitude Sports interview was that Colorado had four players they were considering for the fourth-overall selection. Naturally they will get one of them — I’m going to assume he wasn’t counting the de facto numbers one and two (Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier) in that tally.

Speed, skill, hockey sense. The first players who come to mind are winger Owen Tippett, defenseman Miro Heiskenan and defenseman Cale Makar. However, that’s mostly because they’re all skilled and speedy.

Hepple made a point more than once of stating that “thinking fast” was just as important as skating fast. Honestly, that describes all three as well.

There are a couple more names the Colorado Avalanche may be considering — Gabriel Vilardi and Cody Glass. Neither one is a speedster, but both are accounted as having good hockey sense. Indeed, Vilardi is especially known for controlling the game and improving the play of his teammates.

It all comes down to who Dallas chooses. They have the #3 pick. However, since Hepple stated time and again they were going best available at #4, I’m still leaning toward Garbiel Vilardi.

There’s another reason. In both interviews Hepple remarked their chosen player may not be NHL-ready right away because 17-year-old need time to mature. He stated that age three times in the two interviews.

Gabriel Vilardi is 17 years old. So is Miro Heiskanen. The other players are 18. That’s a small distinction, but I think it’s something Hepple unwittingly let slip.

Next: Gabe Vilardi a Statistical Wiz

The Avs hesitate to choose defensemen so high. Hepple also remarked that teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars might hesitate to choose a d-man so high. So, that leads me back to thinking Hepple is focusing on Vilardi. But it all comes down to whether Dallas leaves him for fourth-overall.