The Colorado Avalanche had an interesting 2017 NHL Draft. The team did not pick many players who will help soon.
The Colorado Avalanche chose seven prospects at the 2017 NHL Draft. Five of those prospects came in rounds four to seven.
Since about the middle of last year, GM Joe Sakic has been stating that the new team direction was to get younger and faster. Amateur scout Alan Hepple gave further insight in saying the team wanted players with great puck skills and who think the game fast.
Colorado’s picks in rounds one and two fit those molds. Fourth-overall defenseman Cale Makar is a high risk-high reward player who speeds around the ice. The #32 selection, defenseman Conor Timmins, is also an excellent skater with more two-way acumen.
Let’s look now at the other five players Colorado drafted.
2016-17 Team: Regina Pats (WHL)
Date of Birth: July 4, 1999 (17 years old)
Wt: 190 lbs
Position: Right Wing
Draft: #94, 4th round
Nick Henry was a steal for the fourth round. Central Scouting had him ranked at #25 for North American skaters, and Future Considerations put him at #82. Colorado got him #94.
Nick Henry is scouted as a skilled player. Curtis Joe of Elite Prospects describes his skill set thus:
"“Has an element of finesse and skill to his game and can fit in as a point producer. Can get quite creative with the puck, keeping the opposition on their toes as he is a hard player to read.”"
Bill Placzek also calls Henry creative with the puck and also remarks that the right wing “likes to cycle the puck down low.” He adds that Nick generates scoring chances and has a good shot.
Curtis Joe especially admires Nick Henry’s skating, remarking that he “skates well and accelerates quickly.” He adds that Nick “transitions up ice well and has excellent positioning entering and exiting the zone.”
Both Placzek and Joe observe that Nick Henry is a solidly-built player who has a strong work ethic.
I didn’t like Henry for the second round, but I love him for the fourth. It’s highly likely he’ll continue to develop in the WHL. However, he’s the first forward Colorado picked, and he might make the jump to pro faster than the defensemen.
2016-17 Team: HC Ceske Budejovice (Czech 2)
Date of Birth: September 12, 1997 (19 years old)
Wt: 174 lbs
Draft: #114, 4th round
I knew the Colorado Avalanche would likely choose a goalie in this draft after losing back up Calvin Pickard to the Expansion Draft. Petr Kvaca out of the Czech Republic was unscouted.
Kvaca is an overage pick. Last year he led the Czech 2 League in goals against average with 1.41 and a .940 save percentage. He’s represented the Czech Republic internationally.
Kvaca is already promised to play for his team in Ceske Budejovice (home of the original Budweiser beer, incidentally). With last year’s goalie pick Adam Werner under contract in Sweden for two more years, I’m guessing Colorado needs to look elsewhere for goalie help next year.
2016-17 Team: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Date of Birth: July 10, 1998 (18 years old)
Wt: 205 lbs
Draft: #125, 5th round
Upon typing up Igor Shvyrev’s information, my first reaction was “He’s a sturdy boy” at 6-foot, 205 pounds. But then, he’s just a couple weeks removed from turning 19.
According to Hockey Prospectus, Shvyrev is a great skater with top speed and acceleration, which makes since because that’s in the Avalanche’s M.O. He’s known for being especially dangerous when the game opens up.
The site considers that he needs to work on the power in his shot, but he’s got a quick release. Apparently he’s especially good with stickhandling and puck control.
One are that needs work is his defensive game. He can get physical, but it’s not his strong point. He can also become a defensive liability at times.
It’s not a guarantee he’ll make the NHL, but he does have some raw material that could eventually translate into the lower lines. That’s not bad for a fifth rounder.
2016-17 Team: Penn State (NCAA)
Date of Birth: August 12, 1997 (19 years old)
Wt: 185 lbs
Position: Left Wing
Draft: #156, 6th round
Denis Smirov is a smallish player who’s nonetheless known as a “high-scoring, super-skilled forward,” according to Land of 10. He’s known for saking well and being agile on his edges. He does, however, need to work some on his speed.
According to the Black Book, Smirov thinks the game quickly and shows good decision-making. Therefore, he’s adept at making plays at top speeds. He did very well as a freshman at Penn State University, earning 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 39 games.
Smirov at 19, going on 20 (interestingly, we have the same birthday), is another overage player. He was passed over in last year’s draft. His coach thinks it’s largely because of his size.
Though chosen later, Smirov is older than the other prospects and may be a player tagged to try out for the team. I’ll be looking for him at the Prospect Development Camp next week.
2016-17 Team: Eden Prairie High (USHL)
Date of Birth: September 14, 1998 (18 years old)
Wt: 194 lbs
Draft: #187, 7th round
The Colorado Avalanche dipped down into the minor juniors again in choosing Nick Leivermann. He’s known for being an undersized but stocky defenseman with terrific skating. He loves to lead the rush up the ice.
According to Black Book, Leivermann’s game is based around his skating and puck possession. He needs to work on some of his hockey smarts and ice vision.
Lievermann is committed to playing for Tyson Jost’s old team, the Penticton Vees, next year before heading to the University of Notre Dame. So, he’s not looking to join the Colorado Avalanche organization any time soon, if at all.
Analysis of the Colorado Avalanche Draft
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The Colorado Avalanche did exactly what I feared they’d do — they got cute. They’ve tried to find that diamond in the rough, that player that no one sees the value in. On the flip side, they also reached out for the shiny object.
Start with Cale Makar. He had a good year in a lower level league. He looks shiny — people are calling him the next Erik Karlsson. Yet he has no burning desire to actually play for the Colorado Avalanche. In his draft interview he is way more excited about playing for the University of Massachusetts.
You could say he didn’t have much time to look up Avs history. I call horse feathers. For at least a week now it’s been an open secret Colorado was looking to draft Makar. Open up your smart phone and read the Wikipedia page.
Conor Timmins is ok, though I would have preferred Nic Hague. I absolutely love Nick Henry as a fourth rounder and have high hopes for Denis Smirov. I doubt Nick Leivermann ever even makes it to the San Antonio Rampage. I also doubt Petr Kvaca makes it out of Europe. Igor Shvyrev? Maybe, but probably never make the team.
I think this is the 2014 Draft all over again in the sense that maybe two players actually sign with the team. For 2014, those two players are Anton Lindholm and Julien Nantel.
The Colorado Avalanche is still trying to go in the direct opposite direction from two years ago (which was a fantastic draft with six players already signed to contracts). If a player was big, that almost seemed to disqualify him — all the players are 6-foot-1 and under and all but one are under 200 pounds.
The Avs seemed to reach out with open arms for undersized defensemen and overage players. Like I said, they got cute.
It’s a gamble. It might pay off. However, I should think that a team that had the fourth-overall draft pick should expect a player to contribute within the next year.
Well, nonetheless, I’d like to welcome the youngsters to the Colorado Avalanche. Prove me wrong, boys. There’s actually nothing I’d like better than to be wrong about this year’s draft being a bust.