After a relatively quiet off-season things picked up for many of the NHL teams just before the draft got under way Friday night. The Philadelphia Flyers kicked things off with their shocking trades involving Jeff Carter and Mike Richards Thursday afternoon. About 24 hours later Colorado got in on the action making a trade of their own, just a few hours before the 2011 Entry Draft was set to begin. Many fans viewed the trade as a clear cut sign that the Avs were taking a defensive minded approach to the draft. Let’s look at the trade and the players that Colorado drafted during the two day event.
Liles Traded and Round One Recap
Around 4:30pm EST Friday afternoon news broke on Twitter that fan favorite, and 7-year member of the Avalanche, John-Michael Liles had been traded. He was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a second round pick in 2012. That pick originally belonged to the Boston Bruins, but Toronto acquired it in the Tomas Kaberle trade. Boston will most likely have another strong season, which means Liles was traded away for nothing more than a low second round draft pick. Liles is worth a lot more than one low second round pick, but the trade talks began around the deadline and just never came to fruition until now. It became obvious that Greg Sherman wanted Liles, and his $4 million salary off this team.
Sherman did redeem himself when he selected Gabriel Landeskog with the number two overall pick from the draft. Fans were extremely happy that Sherman elected to take Landeskog and not opt for the best defenseman available after trading away Liles three hours earlier. The praise of Sherman did not last long as soon after the pick was announced, news leaked that Matt Hunwick had been re-signed to a one-year $1.55 million deal. Hunwick was easily one of the least liked players on the team last year by fans and it seemed as if he could not do a thing right. However, in Joe Sacco’s eyes it appeared as if Hunwick could do no wrong. Defensemen were benched game after game, but no matter what Hunwick was always in the lineup.
The Avs also picked eleventh overall and selected defenseman Duncan Siemens. Siemens was a good selection and should develop into a top four defenseman within a couple seasons. Both Siemens and Landeskog may potentially make the team out of camp so it will be interesting to see how their first professional camp goes.
Colorado had no second or third round picks, but they did make some great selections in the later rounds. The Avs were actually voted top 10 in scouting for this draft, which hopefully means in a few years when these players develops we will once again be challenging for a Stanley Cup. Below is a draft recap as well as some information about each player.
Full Draft Recap
#2 Overall – Gabriel Ladeskog (Left Wing)
Landeskog was limited to 53 games with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League last season because of an ankle injury, but he still led the team with 36 goals and a plus-27 rating. He was the youngest player in 30 years to be named captain of the Rangers at only 17 years old. His leadership role has followed him his whole career as he also captained the Sweden 16, 17, and 18 under teams.
NHL Scouting’s Peter Sullivan is reminded of Mike Richards when he watches Landeskog play because of his strength at both ends of the ice. He is known to stick up for his teammates and has been in three fights both of the last two seasons. He isn’t afraid to take the puck to the net or battle along the boards says Chris Edwards also of NHL Central Scouting. Edwards went on to praise the passion that Landeskog plays with as well as the maturity he possesses for a kid his age.
An interesting fact about Landeskog is that his favorite player growing up was Colorado’s very own Peter Forsberg.
#11 Overall – Duncan Siemens (Defenseman)
Similar to Landeskog, Siemens led all defenseman on his Saskatoon Blades team in scoring with 43 points in 72 games. His 5 goals, 43 assists, and plus-40 ranking helped his team to a first place finish in the Western Hockey League. In 2009-2010 Siemens was named Saskatoon’s Rookie of the Year recording 20 points through 57 games that season.
Peter Sullivan believes Siemens is a really tough guy to play against. “He can carry the puck, he’s a tough kid — he can fight. He’s tough to play against. He can work both ends; he plays both the power play and penalty kill. He’s just a solid, all-around defenseman.” he went on to add.
Siemens was voted assistant captain at the start of the 2010-2011 season, but he gave up that role passing it to his defensive partner Stefan Elliott who was at Colorado’s training camp at the time of the vote. It will be interesting to see how he does in camp. Playing with Elliott is something he is very comfortable with and it would be great to see them play together in the NHL in the near future.
#93 Overall – Joachim Nermark (Center)
Although the Avs have plenty of centerman prospects, Nermark has a lot to add to the table. He has a lot of speed on his skates and is known for his great two way play. Not only is he great in the offensive zone putting up 26 points in 37 games last season for Linkoping in the Swedish junior league, but he is very good defensively as well.
Nermark also appeared in 12 games for Linkoping of the Sweidsh Elitserien league last year, but only managed one assist. He was also a member of Sweden’s under-18 junior team and recorded 8 goals and 9 assists in 19 games which was in the top three on his team.
#123 Overall – Garrett Meurs (Center)
In the fifth round the Avs elected to choose another centerman, this one Canadian born Garrett Meurs. He has played two seasons in the OHL for the Plymouth Whalers
He was seventh on the Whalers in points at the end of the 2009-2010 season with 16 goals and 34 points through 62 games. A familiar name, Tyler Seguin, led the team that year with 48 goals and 106 points. He fared a little better last season putting up 40 points in 68 games, once again seventh on the team. At least he’s consistent. Meurs is a tough kid who has been known to drop the gloves in certain occasions.
#153 Overall – Gabriel Beaupre (Defenseman)
Sherman made a great selection here. Beaupre is a 6’2″ 200 pound defenseman from St. Jean Chrysostome, Quebec. He isn’t know for his offensive prowess, but he is well known for his hitting and ability to fight. He plays a similar style to Ryan Wilson laying down big hits and dropping the gloves when he has to.
Beaupre has played for Val d’Or Foreurs for the past three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. 2010-11 was his best offensive season racking up 3 goals and 15 assists through 66 games. However he was second to last on the team with a plus-minus rating of minus-27. In his defense, the team leader was only a plus-5 and Val d’Or Foreurs finished 14th out of 18 teams. Beaupre is in the white jersey in the below video.
#183 Overall – Dillon Donnelly (Defenseman)
With their final pick of the draft the Avs chose another hard-nosed defenseman in Dillon Donnelly. Donnelly is 6’2″ and 193 pounds of grit and muscle. His father, Gord Donnelly, was drafted 62nd overall by the St. Louis Blues in 1982. The elder Donnelly racked up 2,069 penalty minutes in 554 games to go along with his 69 points.
Donnelly is one of the youngest players to be drafted this year which means he has plenty of time to develop his already decent puck-handling skills. He could very easily evolve into a great defenseman, but the downside to Donnelly is that he lacks good vision on the ice as well as natural instincts.
Donnelly also plays in the QMJHL. He led his Shawinigan Cataractes last season with 153 penalty minutes, nearly 70 minutes more than the player behind him in second. Much like his father, he is not known for his offensive touch and has managed only 11 points in two seasons in the league. Donnelly is sporting the black jersey in the following video.
So there you have it; your 2011 Draft round up. Colorado did an excellent job of not only drafting players at the position they need, but the type of players they need to fill those positions. If these prospects develop properly the Avs can be, and should be, very good in the upcoming years.
Do you think Avs brass did a good job at this years draft? Leave a comment below discussing this year’s six draft picks.