Avalanche 2018 Draft: Day 2 – Another Trade plus Two Goalies

The Avalanche built off of their day one scheme by making another trade and focusing on forwards and goalies. After missing out on all the fallers in the early part of round 2 they opted to trade back with the Penguins, swapping #58 for #64 and #146.

– The first and last picks were goalies
– The first 2 picks were Finns
– The last 3 picks were Russians
– only one Canadian and only pick from the CHL, and only one American

The Avs draft strategy has been evolving over the past few years and looking at this draft alongside something like 2014 it’s a big difference in style. They have added scouting staff in Russia and seem fully invested in using that to their advantage. It would have been unthinkable to have just a single player from the OHL/WHL under Rick Pracey but now it’s only a marginal surprise. The reputation for ignoring the NCAA has been shattered and the same goes for reserving picks on European players for late round lottery tickets only. It’s entirely too early to get a consensus on the 2018 draft but it does show that Colorado has grown as an organization that was wasn’t comfortable with thinking outside the box.

Justus Annunen – R3, 64th overall (from PIT)

Goalie from Finland in the Karpat system
6’4, 216 lbs, catches left, 18 years old (March)
Last year – Karpat in JR A SM-Liiga
WJC U18 – 6 gm, .914, 2.00, Gold Medal
Next Year – Karpat in Liiga

Alan Hepple mentioned a goalie they were pretty locked into in his pre-draft conference call. Wild guess is that this is the guy and that they were pretty sure no one else was interested this early so they traded back and got an extra 5th round pick.

Sampo Ranta – R3, 78th overall

LW from Finland and the USHL
6’2, 198 lbs, shoots left, 18 years old (May)
Last Year – Sioux City of the USHL
WJC U18 – 7 gm, 1G/1A, Gold Medal
Next Year – University of Wisconsin

Ranta won gold at the U18 Worlds with Annunen. Seems to be a shooter with far more goals than assists in his 2 years in the USHL.

Tyler Weiss – R4, 109th overall

LW/C from North Carolina and the USNTDP
5’11, 150 lbs, shoots left, 18 years old (January)
Last year – USNTDP
WJC U18 – 7 gm, 2G/2A, Silver Medal
Next Year – University of Nebraska – Omaha

Has skill but needs a lot of work physically. He could end up 6’1 190# and we’re all going to be very pleased.

Brandon Saigeon – R5, 140th overall

C from Ontario and the OHL
6’2, 194 lbs, shoots left, 20 years old (June)
Last Year – Hamilton Bulldogs
Next Year – Colorado Eagles?

Just turned 20 so this looks like drafting to fill a spot immediately at the pro level. He killed it in the OHL playoffs with 18 goals in 22 games so he’s pretty much ready to go.

Danila Zhuravlyov – R5, 146th overall (from PIT)

Defenseman from Russia in the Ak Bars Kazan System
6’0, 163 lbs, shoots left, 18 years old (April)
Last Year – Irbis Kazan of the MHL
WJC U18 – 5 gm, 5A
Next Year – Unknown

Nikolai Kovalenko – R6, 171st overall

RW from Russia/North Carolina in the Lokomotiv system
5’10, 174 lbs, shoots left, 18 years old (October)
Last Year – Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL
Next Year – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL

Shamil Shmakov – R7, 202nd overall

Goalie from Russia in the Salavat Yulaev Ufa system
6’6, 192 lbs, catches left, 18 years old (July)
Last Year – Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk of the MHL
Next Year – Unknown

These last 3 fellows show off the Avs heavy scouting in Russia. We have a skilled offensive D, a skilled and very fast RW and goalie with some impressive numbers that might have been extremely underscouted. I hope the hard work pays off here because this formula could be a gold mine.


Avs Director of Amateur Scouting Alan Hepple was pretty straightforward about what they wanted to do in his post-draft interview. They wanted skill, hockey sense and speed with the position players they took and all 6 seem to check those boxes. Not much “high floor, low ceiling” types, which is refreshing. The next step is to get a look at these fellows in an Avalanche environment.

It hasn’t been announced yet for whatever reasons but word on the street is that the new guys plus other Avs prospects will be in Denver Thursday for Summer Development Camp. Six of the new draft class will be there for sure and they’re still waiting on word from Zhuravlyov and Shmakov. 28 year old Pavel Francouz will be there as well, which should be interesting for him. Mikeal Lalancette from TVA mentioned yesterday that a few youngsters from the QMJHL have been invited to the camp:

Alex Breton

Defenseman from Gatineau
5’11, 168 lbs, shoots left, 20 years old (July)
Committed to Concordia University next year

Former captain of the Olympiques, had 10G/30A in 59 games

Matthew Boucher

LW from Quebec
5’9, 174 lbs, shoots left, 20 years old (December)
Committed to University of New Brunswick next year

Former captain of the Remparts, had 31G/38A in 66 games this season

Vladislav Kotkov

RW from Chicoutimi and CSKA system in Russia
6’4, 205 lbs, shoots right, 18 years old (January)
Unknown where he will play next year

This fellow is the interesting one. He was ranked anywhere from the 80’s to the 140’s for this year’s draft but ended up not getting selected. He is probably  eligible to play in the AHL next year. The Eagles have bigtime needs at RW and his size indicates that he could be physically ready to play pro at age 18 already. If not the Avs could sign him and send him back to Chicoutimi or even the MHL/KHL.


For me, this is where the fun begins. I don’t have the time or the mindset to follow hundreds of 18 year olds through a season, thank goodness we have BR staff that are aces at that. My focus has always been on development after the draft and mainly at the pro level. Now that these guys are under the Avs umbrella it’s time to see what they can do and how they will fit inside the organization.




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

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