With a mere 10 days remaining until Peter Chiarelli announces Connor McDavid’s name as the newest Oiler, I’ll take some time to look at the top 10 teams and their game plan heading into the draft.
The Colorado Avalanche do not necessarily have a plethora of young prospects in the pipeline, but by no means do they lack elite, young talent. In the past six or so years, the management core has assembled a unique group of forwards which includes the likes of Nathan Mackinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and Ryan O’Reilly. The top 6, for the most part, is in place, however they could still use a right winger to play alongside future superstar Nathan Mackinnon. Where the Avs lack depth and upside is on the blue line. Sure, they would love to grab a guy like Noah Hanifin or Ivan Provorov, but that’s not happening without a bit of an overpayment. Luckily for the Avs, this draft is littered with solid defensive prospects after Provorov and Hanifin, which leads me to the most likely target for the Sakic and Co. University of Michigan defenceman Zach Werenski had a monster season this year, leading the Michigan blueline as a freshman. He also chipped in an impressive 25 points, and played a big role on the USA World Junior squad. With Barrie and Johnson locking down the right side, a future with Bigras and Werenski patrolling the left side may mean a deadly top four in Denver. If, however, the likely scenario occurs in which Werenski is taken in the 6-9 range, the Avs will have a pile of forward prospects who are rype for the picking.
Draft Day Gameplan
– Use the 10 overall pick. If the big 3 D are gone, my list would have Rantanen at the top, followed by Meier, Zacha, and Crouse.
– Avoid any trade that involves bringing in Dion Phaneuf. There will surely be a lot of talk around bringing him in, but he’s a guy you don’t want around that young core.
– Address the lack of forward depth by drafting offensive minded players in rounds 3 and 4, such as Korostelev, Speers, Trenin, and Gagne
– Pick 40 has to be solid. I’d avoid centers, but BPA is never a bad option. Keep an eye on Fischer, Dunn, and Senyshyn.
All in all, I would avoid making any major deals unless you’re bringing in a defenceman in the Josi/OEL stratosphere.
Avs Big Board (Without McEichel)
1. Noah Hanifin
2. Mitchell Marner
3. Ivan Provorov
4. Dylan Strome
5. Zach Werenski
6. Mikko Rantanen
7. Timo Meier
8. Pavel Zacha
9. Lawson Crouse
10. Yevgeni Svechnikov
Who do they take?
I find it unlikely that Werenski and Rantanen will remain, so you have to look at Timo Meier and Pavel Zacha. If it comes down to that, Pavel Zacha is the guy.
The Colorado Avalanche are in a spot where they could reach a bit, but if I’m choosing a true dark horse in this spot, it would be Jacob Larsson.