Picking tenth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft has the Colorado Avalanche selecting a player a little later than they have been used to in recent years. Since the 2009 draft the Avalanche have selected three players with top three picks. It is still unclear who the number one player the Avalanche wish to select is or which players will be available when the NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announces the Avalanche are on the clock. One player to keep an eye on however, is Pavel Zacha; a 6 foot 3 inch center from the Sarnia Sting of the OHL
In his first year of draft eligibility the consensus on Zacha has gone up and down nearly on a week to week basis. He is a big body and he is sure to only get bigger and stronger as he is currently only 18 years old. The left hand shooting center had superb point production in his only year with the Sting posting 34 points in 37 games. These points were almost an even split at 16 goals and 18 assists. Also a high mark the Avalanche are sure to look at is his plus/minus rating of +5 in his first season with a new team.
One area Zacha has shown he needs improvement is positional. He tends to get lost and seems at times to still be adjusting to the North American game. As a center Zacha is expected to play the full length of the ice maybe more so than anybody else and this part of his game needs improving. Again, he is only 18 and anybody the Avalanche selects on June 26 will have a tough time cracking the opening day roster. Zacha already shows an excellent release when shooting the puck but it is probably not NHL caliber, yet. Time in the minors will certainly improve Zacha’s already excellent shot as well as his overall game.
Most in the hockey world would say it is on the defensive side of the puck that the Avalanche need the most help and you will not get any argument here. However, defenceman generally take longer to develop and the point of the draft, especially picking in the top 10, is to take the best player available. It has been out there for a few weeks the the Avalanche have been in touch with Zacha’s agent and have expressed great interest in the young forward.
Zacha may not be available when the Avalanche select at ten given the fact that all teams see exactly what the Avalanche see but if he is available look for the Avalanche to call his name on draft day. Picking Zacha and being patient with him could result in the Avalanche having a cornerstone player in a few years and he will be able to play under veteran players like Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. Let that sink in for a second.
I am a University of New Mexico journalism student who has been watching NHL hockey since 1996 and I started playing hockey myself in 2003. I have covered both college soccer and volleyball in the past and I also contribute to a NASCAR news website.