3 defensemen the Colorado Avalanche could target in 2024 NHL Draft


The Colorado Avalanche are mostly set with their roster, but who are some players that could help them in the future? With some cap space questions (Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin), it is hard to plan around the difficult situations this upcoming season. What they can plan for is a year or several down the road and that happens through the NHL Draft.

While the Avalanche could use some goal scoring forwards, we’re going to talk about three defensemen they could take in the late-first round of the 2024 NHL Draft. It was evident that they needed help in this area last season. I often blamed the goaltending for a lot of the goals against, but defense really needed to be better.

So, let’s take a look at three possible defensemen that could help the team later down the road.

3. Jesse Pulkkinen, Finland

Jesse Pulkkinen is a defensemen from Finland who has incredible size. He stands at 6-foot-6 and weighs 203 pounds, which is definitely a good thing when it comes to playing in the NHL. The NHL is obviously a physical league and having that size at just 19 years old is awesome and could benefit him.

I have checked out several scouting reports on Pulkkinen and every one of them emphasizes Pulkkinen’s confidence with the puck. In two leagues this season, he has played in 35 games and had four goals and eight assists.

Unfortunately, there were plenty of instances last season where the Avalanche were a bit sloppy with the puck. Adding a guy like Pulkkinen might help fix those issues at some point. It could take him two or three years to make it up to the Avalanche level, but he’ll turn 20 years old during the season (December), and he’s well on his way to potential ice time in the NHL.

In 2023-24 in the U20 SM-sarja league, he played in 18 games, scoring 11 goals and 17 assists, which is a major jump in production. He’ll be climbing up draft boards, I think.

2. Adam Jiricek

Adam Jiricek is a player who will take some time before making his way up to the Colorado Avalanche, or any NHL team that drafts him in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft. He’s a 17-year old from Czechia who stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs in at 168 pounds, according to EliteProspects.com.

Unfortunately, Jiricek has been dealing with some injuries as of late. Otherwise, he apparently would have been projected as a higher draft pick. Instead, it sounds as if the Colorado Avalanche would be able to snatch him up in the late-first round. It’s kind of funny how that works—the Avalanche were in this same situation with Calum Ritchie last year and hope that he is the steal that everyone expected him to be.

TheHockeyWriters.com suggests that Jiricek has the potential to eventually become a top-line player, which would be interesting for the Colorado Avalanche, as they have Cale Makar locked in at one top-line spot and Devon Toews right beside him. It appears that Jiricek would end up on the second line at the very most with the Avalanche.

Jiricek could help the Avalanche in the defensive zone (which is crucial considering last season), as well as offensive zone and special teams.

While there are some injury concerns, when Jiricek is healthy, he produces. He recorded 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists) in the Czechia U17 league in 2021-22, and 29 points in the Czechia U20 league in 2022-23.

I guess the Avalanche will just have to ask themselves whether or not Jiricek’s injury concerns are worth the risk. They don’t appear to be a huge deal to some, as he’s still a projected first-round pick.

1. Charlie Elick, Brandon MB, Canada

Charlie Elick has a right shot defenseman who is 6’3″ and 198 pounds. He is the son of former NHLer Mickey Elick, who was drafted in the eigth round of the 1992 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers, but ever saw any NHL action.

Charlie Elick played three seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings, playing in 130 games, and reaching the back of the net eight times while assisting on 32 goals.

Elick is already a strong build so that is one less thing for him to worry about as he makes a transition to the NHL. I think that the Avalanche could definitely benefit from a guy like Elick, who could lay down some hits and help the team be more physical and aggressive in years to come.

His physicality could play a major role in several aspects of the game, and that is exactly what the Colorado Avalanche need.