With the 2017 NHL Entry Draft just around the corner, teams are finalizing their plans. After a 48 point season, the Colorado Avalanche need to deliver a positive draft in many ways. The Avalanche have a chance to show what the new direction of the team is going to be and give the fans a reason to hope for a better future. They also have a chance to continue their trend of positive drafts and fill their pipeline with their future stars. So what will Joe Sakic’s strategy be at this year’s draft?
Get More Picks
The Avalanche have seven picks in the draft, which is the standard amount. The only issue with this is that only two of these picks are in the top 90. The Avalanche do not have a third-round pick, which leaves them with just their first and second-round selections unless they get creative.
There are a couple of ways that the Avalanche can look at getting additional picks in the first couple of rounds. The first revolves around Matt Duchene’s seemingly inevitable trade. The potential return for Duchene should be big and, depending on the rest of the package, should snatch the Avalanche at least one other first-round draft pick. The Avalanche already have depth issues with most of their positions, so it is important that they do not settle for just picks for Duchene; Colorado must get a roster player back, as well.
The other option for the Avalanche could be to trade back in the first round of the draft. They currently hold the fourth-overall pick in the draft, which could be precarious. The Avs have so many potential options in a draft where it is impossible to predict the first three picks. If they don’t like who is left for them, or like another guy just as much, it could make sense for them to trade back into the middle of the first round and maybe add another second or third-round selection as part of that deal. Regardless of how it happens, it would be prudent for the Avalanche to acquire more picks in the draft.
Draft a Goalie
The Avalanche have a big hole in their pipeline when it comes to goaltending. After Spencer Martin, there really aren’t many other guys to fill in the gaps. Unless they are able to snag Jake Oettinger, it stands to reason that whoever they do end up taking still won’t make an immediate impact within the franchise; nevertheless, getting somebody who does have that potential to move up the pipeline should be a point of emphasis for the team.
There are a few names to like, but one name that sticks out to me is Keith Petruzzelli. Here is a scouting report on him from Giants in the Crease:
Petruzzelli’s hockey IQ also shines through on his overall impact on the game. He’s not a blocking style goalie or purely reliant on size to make the save. He likes using an active save selection which translates into exceptional rebound control. What you’re getting with Petruzzelli is a goalie who understands that he not only needs to make the save but ensure that the puck ends up in a non-dangerous area (corner or possession). This rebound control is evident in all situations whether it’s on high danger shots or point shots or those tricky angles that sometimes catch goalies off guard. His understanding of the game is a big asset.
Unless Oettinger is available for the Avalanche with the 32nd pick in the draft, it seems that the fourth round is the most likely time for the Avalanche to pick a goalie. If Petruzzelli isn’t there, Stephen Dillon could be another good option for Colorado.
Keep Balanced Throughout
You can look at this in a few ways. First, though the Avalanche are in a better place with their forward prospects, that doesn’t mean they should spend a ton of draft picks on defense. They have done things like this in the past by constantly overloading picks at one position and this created a situation where decent asset management was impossible.
The other way to look at this is to make sure you’re getting good value at each pick; don’t reach. This is important in the first rounds especially. With the fourth pick of the draft there is no need to reach back in the line with guys like Cody Glass right there. Do not reach for a guy like Callan Foote. Most importantly, if the value isn’t there then work the phones and find value by stockpiling your picks.
Luckily for Colorado there is going to be an excellent player available at fourth overall. If things go the way people expect, the Avalanche should have a shot at either Miro Heiskanen or Cale Makar. If things get wild at the top, it’s conceivable that Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier might fall in Colorado’s lap. The final three rounds of the draft are going to be big tests for the Avs and they need to keep finding players that will contribute to the team down the road.
It is going to take a long time for Colorado to get the stench and feel of this past season off, but the beauty of the NHL is how every team gets to start each season on equal footing regardless of the previous year. The Avalanche can turn the page and get the 2017-18 season off on a positive note with a solid showing at the draft.