Colorado Avalanche get it right with goaltender Ilya Nabokov

The Colorado Avalanche got it right by drafting goaltender Ilya Nabokov.
Metallurg Hockey Club player, Ilya Nabokov (30) seen in...
Metallurg Hockey Club player, Ilya Nabokov (30) seen in... / SOPA Images/GettyImages

The Colorado Avalanche traded their first-round pick to accumulate several more picks later down the road. The team used one of those acquired picks by selecting goaltender Ilya Nabokov out of Russia.

Personally, I expected the team to select a forward this early, but by selecting Nabokov, the Colorado Avalanche took the first goaltender off the board.

Nabokov was recently named the playoff MVP of the KHL, which is always a great accomplishment. He is the oldest prospect in this draft class at 21-years-old, so he does not lack experience and if he works out, he could see some pretty good playing time at the higher levels (NHL and AHL). In the playoffs, he posted the following numbers: 1.82 GAA, .942 SV%, and four shutouts.

Per reports, Nabokov has great movement along the pipes, so having that athleticism is going to be crucial at the next level. At 6-foot-1, he's not an ideal height for an NHL goaltender, but as scouts have stated, he makes up for his height with his athleticism.

Currently, the Colorado Avalanche have Alexandar Georgiev for one more season. I think that Georgiev will have to have a very good season in 2024-25. To select a goaltender with your first pick in the NHL Draft doesn't bode well for the guys in your lineup. Nabokov could also replace Justus Annunen at some point if Annunen doesn't work out as hoped, although the Avalanche did sign him to a contract extension during this past season.

The Hockey Writers has his NHL comparison as Juuse Saros of the Nashville Predators.

By being the first goaltender off the board in the 2024 NHL Draft, the Colorado Avalanche expect Nabokov to eventually pan out and it probably should be sooner than later. The Avalanche are still Stanley Cup competitors but there are some things that hold them back. Hopefully Nabokov can translate to the NHL and eventually be a starter for the Avalanche.