Avalanche 2018 Draft Strategy and Overview

 

Our good friend Forsberger was nice enough to take some time and lay out some of the options in play for Avs coming up at the NHL Entry Draft. Now that the playoffs are over and the Cup in Washington’s hands, Colorado and the rest of the league will start positioning themselves for next season and beyond. Take it away FB.

 

Note: I won’t take credit for all of the ideas (trade proposals etc.) in this article as many have originated from Burgundy Rainbow discord discussions over the last few weeks.  This is more-or-less a summary of some of those discussions with a few of my own ideas, opinions and conclusions thrown in.

 

Situation Overview

With Zadorov and Girard developing nicely on the left side, and Johnson and Barrie stalwarts on the right (not to mention Makar, Timmins and Meloche in the pipeline), the Avs defense is shaping up nicely for both the immediate and long-term future. However, their current NHL forward situation as well as their forward prospect pool leave something to be desired, especially in terms of forwards with top-6 potential. Goaltending is another long-term area of need with no blue chip prospects in the pipeline.

A) Trade Scenarios

I’ll stick to trade proposals that include draft picks here. NHL players certainly could be involved but that will be considered outside the scope of this guide.

  • Trading Up.

    The Avs could potentially consider trading up a few spots if a name they really like (say Veleno or Kotkaniemi for arguments sake) is on the board around 12 /13.  However, even if the team picking there is willing to pass on the player, the price would likely be too high (potentially something like two 2nd rounders + #16) to make it worthwhile for the Avs (an organization that needs to restock its pipeline).

    One thing the Avs really could still use is another high-end bona fide top-6 winger. There are probably only two of those in this years draft and the chance of prying Svechnikov from Carolina is near zero, which leaves Zadina.  As Montreal may be looking for a center (a major area of need) they may be willing to listen to offers for their 3rd overall pick.  The price would likely be very steep (for example: Ottawa’s unprotected pick next year plus a top prospect like Jost) and not worth it.  However, if a third team entered the fray, like the Canucks who are rumored to be shopping their 7th overall pick, more possibilities open up. If the Avs were able to swing a deal with Vancouver, they could then potentially offer #7 + prospect + 2nd rounder for example, for the number #3 overall.  In the end though, the Avs would lose a number of assets in this sort of deal, something they can scarce afford. But if you really believe Zadina will be a top end talent, it’s something you’d have to consider.

    Having two 2nd round picks this year, the Avs could consider combining them to move up to the top of the 2nd.  While I don’t think it would be a smart move for the Avs to consolidate assets like this, if a name they really love is still on the board it may not be totally outside the realm of possibility.

 

  • Trading Down

There may be a myriad of options left at the 16th pick, but there also might not be anyone left on the board that the Avs are in love with.  The Avs prospect pool could still use depth overall, so moving down from #16 might be something to consider.  The New York Rangers would make an interesting target as they have the 26th and 28th pick and also have a deep prospect pool, so some consolidation may be in order.

Whether the Rangers would do a trade like this likely depends on if a name they really covet is on the board at #16.  It’s very likely there will still be some intriguing players (such as Noel, Dellandrea, Bokk, Miller, McIsaac etc.) available near the end of the 1st round, which would make this a very tempting offer.

 

B) Ottawa’s Choice

The chance that Ottawa chooses to take next year’s 1st round pick instead of this year’s is as good as zero in my opinion, but for argument’s sake let’s say they do make this decision.  Of course, the ideal scenario here would be to make a trade to swap with Montreal for the #3 pick and take Zadina. If this is not possible, a player like Tkachuk, though he’s likely a little over-rated, would be a good fit as the Avs could use another power winger. Dobson would be an interesting option as well, as he could not only help replenish the right defense depth after a possible Barrie trade but could also develop into a potential long term EJ replacement.

A more realistic scenario might be that the Senators would be willing to give up this year’s pick with some incentive from the Avs; that way Ottawa would not have to worry about losing a completely unprotected pick next year. If the price is reasonable (say one 2nd rounder) it might be worth it (especially if a swap with Montreal could be arranged) though that’s unlikely to be the case.

C) #16 Overall

As outlined earlier, the Avs number one need is an impact forward, so they should be focusing on that with their 1st round pick.  Of course, if a big name such as Dobson, Bouchard or Boqvist is still in play they would be forced to reconsider.  Defensemen such as Wilde and Sandin are more likely to still be around though, in which case a forward would probably be a better fit.

At forward there will be a myriad of options; in the unlikely event that a player like Hayton, Wahlstrom, Veleno or Kotkaniemi is still on the board, the pick would be a no brainer, in my opinion.  Barring that, it becomes a choice between a safer pick to produce an NHLer (such as Farabee, Dellandrea, Kupari or Lundestrom) versus someone with higher upside but also more risk (such as Denisenko, Thomas, Noel or Bokk). On the one hand the Avs could use a prospect with high-end upside, but on the other, the Avs have had enough 1st rounders flounder over the last decade to make one wary.  In the end, I think the best strategy is to look at each player individually and decide if the upside truly is exceptional enough to merit the risk.

D) Deeper into the Draft

Assuming the Avs do pick a forward at #16, they should more or less go with BPA (best player available) from here on out, though it would probably be smart to pick up at least one defenseman in the second round as very good D-men can often still be found there.

With goaltending being a big area of need within the pipeline, and the Avs having two second round picks, one would think it would be a smart move to use one on a goalie.  However, this year appears to be a very weak draft class for goalies overall, so the better strategy might be to wait until the 3rd or even 4th Rodrigue is a name that often gets 2nd round pedigree but if you’re not over the moon for him, then it would be smarter to wait, and pick a another forward there.

Deeper in the draft it makes sense to swing for the fences more often, looking especially for dark horses from Europe and Russia that may not have received as much exposure.

E) Conclusion

Since there are many potential trade scenarios, in the end I think the best strategy would likely be to stand pat and use their #16 pick, preferably on a forward. The aforementioned trade-down proposal for #26 & #28 I think is the one exception that might really pay off.

Although it will be tough to watch so many tantalizing names being taken before the Avs have a chance to pick, there will a myriad of options available making it an interesting draft indeed.

 

earl06

Scoring LW, punchy climber for the Ardennes classics, spirit guide

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