Colorado Avalanche Potential Trade Partners

The Colorado Avalanche did not have a good year (quite the understatement, I’m aware), and are in dire need of changing their roster. Avalanche GM Joe Sakic made it clear that there was going to be “a lot of turnover” within the organization this summer. Recently, the Avalanche let three coaches go, but that is just going to be the tip of the iceberg. The Avalanche have several roster changes that should and likely will be coming this summer in order to make the team younger and faster.

Since there really isn’t going to be much in the way of free agency this summer, and since this isn’t going to be a very deep draft, the Avalanche are going to need to do most of their roster changes through trade. Here are some of the teams that the Colorado Avalanche might trade with this summer.

Colorado’s Needs

There are a lot of shortcomings to observe when looking at the Colorado Avalanche, but two big ones definitely come up. First, the Avalanche need to shore up their defense. Their system has gotten better over the past few years with some promising defensive prospects, but the depth of NHL ready defenders is just not there.

The second thing the Avalanche need is more scoring depth. The production for the Avalanche has gone downhill since that magic run where everything went right in 2013-2014, and it bottomed out in embarrassing fashion this past season. A combination of injuries, big players just not having good seasons, and just a bad lineup meant the Avalanche couldn’t score to save their lives. The Avalanche need to improve their forward depth just as much as their defensive depth.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Carolina Hurricanes have been a team that comes up whenever potential Avalanche trade partners come up. It’s pretty obvious why when you look at their collection of players, especially on defense. Carolina’s front office has done an excellent job putting together some young, talented defenders but they still lack enough offensive firepower. Carolina is a place that makes a lot of sense in a Matt Duchene trade.

The ideal situation, and I mean the type of situation that might only come to pass if Carolina’s GM had a bit too much one night, would be to bring the likes of Noah Hanifin and a scorer, but that isn’t terribly realistic. What might be more possible is Matt Duchene and possibly another player for Jaccob Slavin, Nicolas Roy and maybe a draft pick. Slavin has a very bright future and is a solid player that should fit nicely into that second pair. Roy is a promising prospect with excellent size and a scoring ability. Duchene would fit will in their top six and would benefit from playing with a guy like Jeff Skinner.

Depending on what else Carolina would want, this could be a nice win-win trade for both teams.

Montreal Canadiens

Another team that has been on the Colorado Avalanche trade train for a long time, Montreal needs centers. Another team that jumps to the top of the list in Matt Duchene trade scenarios, the only real issue that comes up with the Habs is there might not be enough that Montreal could send back. If the Avalanche are to trade Matt Duchene, it doesn’t make sense to do it for a bunch of futures as they did with Ryan O’Reilly. The Avalanche will want players that can get into the roster.

For me, if the Avalanche are to deal with Montreal, everything must begin with Mikhail Sergachev. The only real downside with him is that it’s hard to know when he will be ready to make the jump to the NHL. There is a ton of promise for Sergachev and all of his abilities certainly project him as a potential top-tier defenseman, but is that enough in a deal like this? Other roster players the Avalanche might want to consider would be Alex Galchenyuk or possibly Brendan Gallagher. Will any of that really be enough to entice you to pull the trigger on a deal involving Matt Duchene? I don’t really know.

In the end, I don’t think that the Avalanche will dance with Montreal.

New York Islanders

The Islanders were thought to be potential suitors in the Matt Duchene sweepstakes earlier in the season, so it could be possible that they make another play for him this offseason. It’s unlikely that the Avalanche would get the major asking price they were setting during the season, but there could still be a match here.

I like some kind of a trade with Calvin De Haan to help strengthen the blue line.

New Jersey Devils

As you probably have noticed, I am operating under the assumption that Matt Duchene will likely be the biggest trade target for the Avalanche this offseason. One team that desperately needs some scoring to add to their lineup is the New Jersey Devils. The big issue with the Devils is who would they send back? The Avalanche would likely want some kind of a scoring forward or defender to fit their lineup. New Jersey likely wouldn’t want to part with what little scoring they have.

That being said, Duchene playing with Taylor Hall would be a big plus for the Devils. Also, the Devils have the top overall pick this season and will likely be getting a top offensive player, maybe they feel like they could part with Kyle Palmieri. Or maybe not.

New Jersey does have a couple prospects worth looking at, specifically Michael McLeod. I’ve been a big fan of his since last year’s draft, and he had another outstanding year in the OHL. You really don’t want a Duchene trade to be for all futures, but a promising prospect, especially one with a great offensive upside, you would certainly consider as part of the deal.

Arizona Coyotes

The Avalanche and Coyotes have been considered natural trade partners for a while. They even made a deal not long ago, and could dance again. Arizona has a lot of young talent that is coming into their lineup in a lot of places. The Avs could target some of that, or try and look at the emerging Arizona blue line. I won’t lie, I wouldn’t mind seeing former Avalanche prospect, Kyle Wood, come back to the Avs. Connor Murphy might be another good addition in some kind of a package. There’s some definite potential here.

2017 NHL Draft Prospect: Timothy Liljegren

It seems that most of the talent towards the top of the draft board tend to be forwards. This year’s draft is no different, but we definitely can’t forget about the defensemen. Our next prospect and second defenseman covered, is the enigmatic Timothy Liljegren.

For the previous prospect, Cody Glass, click here.

Timothy Liljegren

Timothy Liljegren plays with Rogle BK in the SHL. He is a right-shooting defenseman who has a couple years of experience playing in the top Swedish league.

Liljegren is 6’0″, 191 lbs., and is the sixth ranked European skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

Game Overview

Liljegren started the season with many people believing that he was the only person possibly able to challenge Nolan Patrick as the top overall pick. Needless to say, this season has changed his fortunes. He has had to deal with sickness and injuries, which kept him out of the the World Junior Championships; and his game seems to have scouts puzzled. Liljegren is a fantastic skater who can retrieve the puck and move it out with outstanding ease but seems to lack a great deal of maturity. Scouts talk about him trying to do too much to impress people and making poor decisions and turning the puck over too much. Needless to say, that should make Avalanche fans leery about drafting him.

Future Considerations:

An active, offensive-minded rearguard who likes the puck on his stick…skates with strong fluidity and agility, getting from one point to the next effortlessly as his feet always seem to be in motion…can take the puck end-to-end a la Erik Karlsson…his offensive IQ is off the charts as is his creativity…makes strong breakout passes to move along the attack to his forwards before jumping into the play himself…has a strong wrist shot that is quick off his blade, strong and accurate, and he gets some solid velocity on his slap shot…continually reading the play and moving as he tries to be in strong position to contribute as an option when not in possession of the puck himself…can be a high-risk, high-reward guy as he does take chances that can lead to turnovers here or there…a game-breaker…projected as a top-pairing offensive NHL defenseman.

ISS Hockey:

Dobber Prospects:

Liljegren was the early second overall ranked prospect for the 2017 draft. He missed time due to Mono and injuries which cost him a shot at the World Junior and subsequently he has slipped down some rankings. He is a mobile two-way puck moving defender that moves the puck up ice either by crisp, smart passes or carrying the puck with his long powerfuil skating stride. He hakes good reads and reacts smart and quickly processing the game at a high level. Liljegren has shown well playing against men at the pro level in Sweden as well as in international tournaments such as the U18 in North Dakota and the Five Nations most recently. Don’t let Liljegren fall down your draft rankings as he should be the first defenceman selected in any draft.

Draftsite.com:

Started the year ranked as a top defenseman prospect based on smooth and mature play from the back end as a puck mover, attacker and PP man, Thick not large, but there is little on the negative side on how well he uses his abilities to defend. A world class skater who has agility mobility and great acceleration, he displays high hockey IQ and reads the ice as well as any NHL defender. Already in the Swedish Elite league and not at all out of place. He really hasn’t gotten any bigger or physically stronger, and that might have him sliding down draft lists from top defenseman in the class to maybe a risky selection early on. He is a strong puck mover who will fearlessly lead the attack as a newbie in the SHL. If he does slide, he may make one NHL team’s scouting staff look like geniuses.

Recrutes.ca:

No player has dropped as sharply since the summer as the enigmatic blueliner that has struggled this season due to increasing concerns about how he see the ice and processes the play. He had mono to start the season so he was given leeway for his disappointing start, but the struggles have continued, and he was a healthy scratch for Rogle at the end of the season. Players his own age have caught up to him and he’s not been able to adjust. Has top-four blueliner potential with his skating skills even if questions about his offensive upside have surfaced.

More scouts from Recrutes.ca (seriously, check this site out if you want first-class draft coverage.)

He thinks he’s something he’s not, and he keep screwing around..and keeps falling. He’ll be fine one day if he just figures out what he is..a good puck retriever, puck mover and be a really solid mobile defenceman, and don’t worry about the offensive side. He’s got talent…but what he tries to do is impress us, and he digs himself a hole. All he does is turn it over and over. He’s neglectful on the defensive side. The physical part he’s got…but you have to show maturity and know what you are…don’t try to be something you can’t be. At one time he was faster than everybody..now everybody’s catching up…so try to adapt. Can he adapt? Maybe… but the turnovers….it might come…but he could be a bust too.

 

Liljegren is going to f*** me up because I don’t know what he is…I get all of the physical attributes but I don’t get the skill. He’s going to really have to simplify his game to be half decent. That’s not what you want out of this guy…i want to see some dynamics if you’re going to take him high. In the second round..okay..but I’m not going to take him with my first pick. I would not be all anxious to take him in the top 20. I don’t know what he is…I love everything about his physical skills, but he doesn’t create a lot. If he simplifies his game..then he’s a simple player.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

At 4? No. No way. There’s no doubt that there is a lot to like about Liljegren’s game, and it certainly is easy to get mesmerized by his skating, but let’s talk about those scout comments. The one word that comes up that should have all Avalanche fans looking for a different person is TURNOVERS. Turnovers are just as visible as all those wonderful physical attributes that he has, but turnovers as a result of trying to be too showy seems to be an issue with his game. The Avalanche do not need any more of this kind of issue on a team that turns the puck over like it’s their job.

Now, if Liljegren is still available late in the first round (I mean, somebody always falls, right?) then perhaps you think about trading back into the first round to take him. With so many of us seemingly resigned to the fact that Matt Duchene will be moved, and a reasonable assumption that a first round pick should be a part of that trade, the position of the Avalanche dancing partner will determine whether or not you’d want to take him over other players like Cale Makar, Nicholas Hague, Juuso Valimaki, or even Cal Foote. It seems that scouts are pretty nervous about Liljegren in most of the first round, so we’ll see how he ends up playing out.

2017 NHL Draft Prospect: Cody Glass

The more prospects we look at the more difficult it becomes to predict the 2017 NHL Draft. The lack of generational players does not mean that there are no good players; there are a lot of players with some intriguing upsides. This includes our next prospect, Cody Glass.

For the previous prospect, Michael Rasmussen, click here.

Cody Glass

Cody Glass plays for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He is a right-shooting center with two full years of experience with Portland.

Glass is 6’2″, 178 pounds, and is the sixth-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

Game Overview

Glass exploded onto the WHL scene this season, more than tripling his offensive output from his rookie year. Glass went from a 27 point rookie year to a 94 point season his second year. To say things clicked for him is a bit of an understatement. His game is more of a pass first style, and his 62 assists certainly back that up, but he also has a very good shot that can notch him another 32 goals. Glass is also one of, if not the best two-way player in the draft. His compete level is high, as is his hockey IQ. He sees the ice very well and can set teammates up just as well as he can bury the puck himself. He finds himself very close to other players like Gabriel Vilardi and Michael Rasmussen, but scouts seem to agree that Glass is a better skater than both of these players. Will he have the highest up side? Hard to tell.

Here’s the scouting reports:

ISS Hockey:

The Hockey Writers:

Outside of the physical elements, the skills Glass brings to the table are impressive. He has excellent vision and offensive creativity and can thread a pass to the crease, dangle the puck to attract defenders and find the open winger for the shot on goal. Glass’ skating is a bit awkward, but he has good speed and rarely gets beat. It is easy to see, with some work, Glass being one of the quicker skaters on his NHL team. He should have potted even more goals during his Sophomore season. Glass is a pass-first center but has a dangerous shot that is not uncorked as often as it could or should be. That said, his playmaking skills are excellent, so it’s a minor quibble that he likely grows out of with further seasoning in the WHL.

Dobber Prospects:

Perhaps one of the most underrated or undervalued prospects in the 2017 draft class. Glass has good size, and can impact the game both offensively and defensively. Glass has had a breakout season in his draft year more than tripling his offensive production and assuming the role of first line center for the Portland Winterhawks. Glass had a strong showing at the Top Prospects Game in Quebec, but has no international experience for Canada and is relatively unknown outside the WHL as a result. He has seen marked improvements in his skating and strength adding about ten pounds this season. Glass thinks the game fast, has a high hockey IQ and has great vision combined with soft hands and excellent puck skills. His compete level is elite and the main development opportunity for Glass is to continue to add strength and mass to his projectable 6-2 frame. Don’t be surprised to see Glass selected in the top ten of the 2017 NHL draft. If he goes later than that we could look back on this draft and say what a steal.

Elite Prospects:

A dangerous two-way center that thinks the game at a high level, never making the same mistake twice. He is analytical and patient in the development of his strengths. He transitions up-ice quickly and is able to create and dictate offensive chances on the rush. He attacks hard and fast and consistently displays excellent puck control. His decision making is very good, indicative of his high level of hockey sense. He plays a complete game and elevates his play as energy levels rise. At the next level, he will need to be even faster and more physically assertive to make his presence felt. All-in-all, an intense, quick-thinking competitor that can elicit a crowd’s excitement when he’s on the ice.

Future Considerations:

A strong positional player who plays well on both sides of the puck…although his foot speed is pretty good for a guy his size, first step accelerate could improve…not overly flashy offensively but effective due to smarts and excellent senses…an excellent puck mover, he finds teammates with ease and is a huge possession asset…has the confidence and protection skills to rag the puck until he finds an open teammate…execution of passes is excellent and he is especially skilled at changing angles with his hands to create passing lanes…has a knack for dictating the pace and slowing the game down when he’s on the ice…plays a gritty game and uses his body and quickness to create space…strength in a two way game and displays a big active disruptive stick in the defensive zone…supports his defensemen down low and ties up his check in front of the net…not a brute physically but uses his size effectively…shows great compete to get quick on pucks and make decisive plays…a projected top-six character center with offensive upside.

Recrutes.ca:

May only have competition from Patrick and Hischier as the draft’s top playmaker. Smarts, poise and vision along with puck protection skills result in multiple scoring chances for teammates each game and he’s not without goal-scoring abilities either. He gets stronger/quicker and he’ll fill a productive top-two center role and perhaps play on the first power=play unit.

Draftsite.com:

Late bloomer with excellent speed, quick hands and sneaky release. Since last season he gained 20+ pounds and grew more than a couple inches, making him tough to push of the puck in his possessions. Has a high hockey sense – finds the open seams, and gets open, and anticipates were the puck will be. Strong on the puck, keeping it away from from opposing defenders. Displays excellent all-around speed. He looks to get even bigger and stronger, and has significant upside.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

Cody Glass is an excellent all-around player that does all kinds of things very well. His overall skill and work ethic do seem to make him a very Avalanche kind of draft pick, you really do have to wonder if the Avalanche would want to draft yet another center. True, Glass won’t be making the NHL roster any time soon and you simply don’t know what will happen a couple years from now, but it really does seem like the system might want to go in another direction. Also, while there is a lot to like on Glass’s offensive game, the Avs lack a pure scorer pretty much throughout their system. I’m not saying that this will cause the Avalanche to look away from Glass, but it certainly has to be something that they are going to be considering.

Glass certainly is heading on a very positive trajectory, which has put him in a very positive spot on the draft boards, but I wonder if the Avalanche will want a different type of player. Perhaps the big-bodied physical type that jams the front of the net, like Rasmussen; or the speedy sniper like Tippett; or even the flashier hands and playmaking of a guy like Mittelstadt. At the end of the day, however, if Cody Glass is the name Joe Sakic announces from the stage on draft day, there is certainly no reason for Avalanche fans to be upset.

2017 NHL Draft Prospect: Michael Rasmussen

The level of unpredictability in the 2017 NHL Draft is higher than almost any draft I can remember. Outside of the top two prospects, it is almost impossible to judge what is going to happen. With the Colorado Avalanche selecting fourth overall, that leaves the door wide open for any number of picks; including our next prospect, Michael Rasmussen.

For the previous prospect, Miro Heiskanen, click here.

Michael Rasmussen

Michael Rasmussen plays with the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League. He is a left-shooting center who has played two full seasons with the Americans.

He is 6’6″ and 215 lbs., and is the fifth ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

Game Overview

Rasmussen is the type of prospect that leaves a lot of teams drooling when they look at his game. One thing he automatically has going for him is his size. He’s huge. 6’6″ and still has room in his frame to pack on muscle at a mere 215 pounds. As you would expect from a guy like this, he makes much of his living sitting right in front of the net because he’s nearly impossible to move. What makes him dangerous is that he has the excellent hands necessary to coral rebounds and finish from close in. Scouts praise his hands, his shot, his skating, his work ethic, all of it. To make the package even more enticing, he is one of the best two-way players in the draft. Lots to like.

NHL Central Scouting:

HE’S PLAYING WITH MUCH MORE CONFIDENCE THIS SEASON. HE’S ADAPTED TO PLAYING A BIGGER ROLE AND PLAYING HEAVY MINUTES AGAINST OPPONENTS’ TOP LINES AND DEFENSE. THE GAME HAS SLOWED DOWN FOR HIM A LITTLE BIT AND HE’S JUST THAT MUCH MORE POISED. HE CAN TAKE THAT EXTRA BIT OF TIME AND UNDERSTANDS HE CAN TAKE THAT TIME TO MAKE PLAYS AND SCORE GOALS.

Draftsite.com:

Large competitive centreman with skill and good feet. A gritty,naturally strong player with mobility who wins most board scrums, he is a dominant player in the front and below the goal line. A mobile skater who is difficult to contain or move. He wins puck battles and scores. Intriguing prospect with upside offensively, difficult to contain, and effective vision and passing skills. Owns the front of the power play. Owns the area behind the goal line. He might look for the pass over shooting, Protects the biscuit well. Has an upright skating stride but gets there and shows jam when he greets you.He Is an effective two way centre, and rarely loses puck battles along the boards. The combination of power and skill is at the high end of this draft class, even though you might hope he would show a bit more effort all sixty minutes. A raw talent who may end up being the best player out of the West.

Future Considerations:

A big, skilled forward who uses his size well…has improved his skating substantially from his midget days…for a player his size, he moves phenomenally well, smoothly and with impressive power…does a very good job of consistently getting to the greasy areas of the ice; he wins a lot of battles in those areas due to his size and reach…goes to the net and blocks the goaltender’s view while looking for deflections and rebounds…not flashy hands, but can carry the puck using his body extremely well to protect it…has underrated vision and playmaking ability…needs some work on his shot as he currently lacks consistent accuracy and quickness in getting it off his blade…just knows how to utilize his strengths to make a difference…uses his reach to disrupt opponents and get into lanes…willing to block shots…has a ways to go, but could be special and has loads of upside.

Dobber Prospects:

Rasmussen is a prospect NHL scouts will be fighting for their team to draft. He is a big bodied center with NHL ready size; he skating is above average thanks to his long powerful stride. He has a high compete level and uses his size well in puck battles and to finish checks, but he could be a little more aggressive or mean. His offensive skills are elite as he owns good playmaking vision but is also an accomplished goal scorer. Scores a lot of goals in close to the net where he uses his size as a net presence, screen and can score on tips, rebounds and deflections.Rasmussen will have added value in multi cat leagues as he will contribute points, faceoff wins, hits and penalty minutes.

With his size, skating, skill and smarts he has all the makings of a first or second line NHL center.

Recrutes.ca:

The rangy center has soft hands, quick release deadly accuracy and a heavy shot that make him a rarity – a big pivot with 40-goal NHL upside. Consistency in his work ethic is his major area in need of improvement. Looks like he’s not a fast skater at times mainly because he can stop moving his feet…he has good power in his stride. A broken wrist sidelined him in February for the remainder of the season, but not before notching 32 goals in just 50 games. Projects as a goal-scoring top-two center.

Other scout quotes from Recrutes.ca.

Hard to find those 6-5 guys who can score 30 goals. We all like the talented guys and when you’ve got the size to go with it…hard to find those guys. When you’re not running n NHL team and you think they’re all going small skilled guys..whatever…that’s the attitude..but you still have to have size. He may not be top five…but he’s not far off if he’s not. There’s a lot of opinion on what the order is from 3-10…but you’re not making a mistake taking him at five. Arguably 3-10 you can put them any way you want. You can argue them all.

 

Now that is a prospect! He has a terrific shot. He’s going to score goals in the NHL with his size and hands, especially with that shot.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

As I mentioned at the start of the article, it is almost impossible to predict where so many of these players outside of the top two picks are going to go. Rasmussen is no different and certainly provides a lot of reasons to like him. He does so many things that the Avalanche desperately lack and does them well. He plays all zones very well, he wins battles along the boards, his first instinct is to get to the net, he plays with jam, and he scores. All things the Avalanche need.

That being said, it’s really hard to tell if he is going to be the best option at fourth overall. Casey Mittelstadt, Owen Tippett, Cody Glass, and Gabriel Vilardi could easily go here, too. In the end, I don’t believe the Avalanche will select Rasmussen as I write this. I just think that one of the other players listed will match what the Avalanche want a bit better. This is not a knock to Rasmussen by any stretch, as I believe he will probably make some team very happy.

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Miro Heiskanen

Continuing to look at the many potential NHL draft picks this year, we jump across the Atlantic for the first time for the player many people view as the top defenseman in the draft, Miro Heiskanen.

For the previous prospect, Owen Tippett, click here.

Miro Heiskanen

Miro Heiskanen plays for HIFK in Liiga, the Finnish Elite League. He is a left-shooting defenseman that has made his way up the draft boards all season.

Heiskanen is 6’0″ and 174 lbs. He is the fourth-ranked international skater according to NHL Central Scouting and just finished his first season in Liiga.

Game Overview

Heiskanen has moved up the draft boards because of his excellent skating, great vision, ability to move the puck, and excellent decision-making. He brings a decent two-way game and has played well in his first season against grown men. His all-around game definitely makes him very appealing, and he appears to be set to go very early in the draft. Here’s what the scouts are saying.

Elite Prospects:

An elite two-way defenceman in the making, Miro Heiskanen has a toolbox bursting at the seams. Very smooth skater whose general agility and athleticism is excellent and on display every shift. A confident puck mover with no issues running a play himself and starting a transition up-ice. Solid creativity and impressive puck skills. Always makes the high percentage play and doesn’t put teammates in dangerous or vulnerable positions. Willingness to play a physical game is not an issue, as he is often seen throwing the body. Defensively very diligent and proactive, keeping the opposition to the outside and cutting off open and common lanes.

Dobber Prospects:

Heiskanen is elite skating defenceman with plenty of speed and mobility. Already playing against men in Liiga he is an excellent puck mover and transition defenceman. His offensive ceiling is not too high and he may never quarterback the powerplay but he has good hockey sense, is ahead of his years in his defensive play. Heiskanen needs to add some bulk to his slight frame to be effective in North America but he is already proven at the pro level and may have a shorter path to the NHL than some other draft eligible defencemen.

Finnish Junior Hockey:

Heiskanen has all the potential to be an excellent puck-moving defenseman at the pro level. He’s noticeably calm and confident with the puck in all situations, whether it be in the defensive zone under pressure or playing the point on power play. He has very good puck skills, keeps his head up and makes the right decisions on when to pass and when to carry the puck. Long range passes are consistently tape-to-tape. Heiskanen has both a good wrist and slap shot, especially when it comes to accuracy. He will take his chances and makes well-placed, smart shots.

He is also an elite skater who uses his edges extremely well. His transition skating from forward to backwards is very smooth. Certain times he will skate end-to-end with the puck thanks to his strong acceleration, top-end speed and ability to handle the puck at high speed. He has showed more of this in the U18 league thus far, however. His lateral movement on the blueline in the offensive zone is very good. This, along with his calm passing game, makes him a very solid player on power play. Skating has always been one of Heiskanen’s biggest assets along with his skill and smarts.

Heiskanen is not a particularly physical defenseman, but he reads the developing play well and therefore doesn’t get into trouble in the defensive zone too often. His strong gap control and stick positioning allow him to take away passing lanes and options from the oncoming forwards.

Draftsite.com:

Undersized defenseman who continues to shine impressively in every international showing. Although he is slightly built and in need of beef and more muscle, he is very athletic,and has shown himself an equal to the grown men playing against him in the Finnish pro league. He possesses high end mobility, agility, an excellent skating stride and vision and makes solid defensive zone reads. A four-direction skater who easily transitions to his back pedal and calmly handles the attacker when middle zone turnovers happen. He is very good around his own net,and has a very active stick, clogs lanes and either moves the puck to the right place in transitions, or will skate the puck out, even under pressure. Plays calm and makes good decisions under pressure in his own end. Anticipates well and reads and activates from the defensive position flawlessly, as he carries and passes the puck so well. A power play quarterback who distributes well and gets it on net when he shoots. The negatives is he may not be able to get that much bigger and needs girth and muscle. So he is what he is: a extremely agile puck carrier who simply is not a big man. Hasn’t the NHL had room for a few of these?

Recrutes.ca:

No other defenceman combines smarts, poise and mobility in such a complete package. There is little to dislike about his potential other than lack of size. He is a viable candidate to be a top-two NHL defenceman who can play any role. Tough to beat one-on-one thanks to his elite agility and quickness…a natural, smooth skater.

Other comments from scouts through Recrutes.ca:

Great skater, thinks the game very well, He transitions the puck better than anyone in the draft, thinks quick and executes well. He defends well, he’s got good gap control. He’s a better skater than Juolevi and can execute quicker than Juolevi. Reminds me some of Duncan Keith.

 

just a good two-way dman..he’s got the great wheels so he can log a lot of minutes, skating is not taxing on him. He’s one of those guys. I’d like to see a little more offence but he might have it…because he’s got the skill and the vision…he can make plays…I think it’s just about getting into a role on a team where he could develop into more of an offensive type of guy. I certainly like his two-way game. He’s good in his own zone…He’s pretty good defensively, good tick, gets his body involved. When he get the puck he can move it out. He’s got that good stick, he can stay with guys. He’s not shy or timid.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

Everybody is very high on Heiskanen, and I get it. He’s got a lot of amazing tools that could make him very successful at the NHL level. The big question mark with him will be how long it takes him to gain enough strength to play in the NHL. Now as great of a skater as he is and as good as he is at moving the puck, that won’t always be a thing to worry about; but he is still a defender and will need to be able to go up against big players in front of his net and in the corners and will need to get stronger.

I also wonder what the Avalanche will think about their choices if he does fall to them at 4. The Avalanche definitely want to continue to build their system defensively, but the Avalanche also desperately need scorers in their system. In a draft year like this, it’s also difficult to really pinpoint who the best player available is going to be. This year is so up for interpretation that there are any number of ways you could see the first round going.

In the end, I wouldn’t be sad if the Avalanche ended up getting Heiskanen, even knowing that it is going to take some time to get him ready. Perhaps one more year over in Finland before bringing him over to the AHL. Let him mature a bit more, pack on some muscle and then begin the transition to the North American game. He has a great mind for hockey, so I imagine his transition will go pretty smoothly.

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Owen Tippett

Now that the Draft Lottery has happened and Colorado Avalanche fans got to experience one more gut-wrenching loss for the team, we at least know where the Avalanche will be selecting in the first round.

Continuing down our magical path of draft prospects, the next player we will put under the microscope is Owen Tippett.

For the previous prospect, Casey Mittelstadt, click here.

Owen Tippett

Owen Tippett currently plays with the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League.

He is 6’2″ and 203 lbs and is a right-shooting right wing. He is just finishing his second season with the Steelheads and comes into the NHL Draft as the seventh-ranked skater according to NHL Central Scouting.

Game Overview

Offense is the name of the game for Tippett. Offense is his bread and butter, his main course, and his dessert. All scouting reports talk about his excellent skating and, most of all, his lethal shot. Watching video, there is absolutely no denying that his shot is pretty outstanding. Unfortunately for Tippett, “inconsistent” is another word brought up, especially when referring to his defensive game. Even some talk about a less than stellar work ethic.

Future Considerations:

A strongly built, scoring winger who possesses that natural scorer’s touch…he gets to the right areas of the ice both with and without the puck and has the pro-type shot and release to bury it…he is strong and shifty with the puck, protecting it well as he moves through traffic…gets around the ice well, showing quick jump acceleration to generate space and speed coming down the ice on the rush, and he shows agility and balance on his feet…has a good head for the game and identifies developing plays quickly…has a feel for when he should attack the play, when he should support his teammates and when he needs to wait in quiet ice for them to find him…works hard…not overly belligerent, but does play a physical game, with a chip on his shoulder…not afraid to take a bump to generate a chance…top-six NHL goal-scorer down the line.

ISS Hockey:

Draftsite.com:

Pure goal scoring speedster who is work in progress. He has size very good size, and girth, and besides the great speed, he can be a threat from anywhere inside the attack zone. Displays both a strong slapper and wrist shot. Will release the puck from what seems like low percentage angles and find the back of the net. Might have gained too much muscle and weight with the 18 pounds he added…it has reduced his pure foot speed a bit, but it does help in his puck possession battles. Needs to read the situations and hit the mark with his shots, not just let fly with reckless abandon. Terrific PP cannon, but he still needs to develop his on ice reads away from shoot, shoot and shoot and also survey his options. And develop some defensive commitment and work away from the puck.

Recrutes.ca:

Good size, speed and a deadly shot make him the purest sniper in the draft and a good bet to score plenty of goals in the pros. Already the second-best goal scorer in the OHL, if he learns to play more consistently, utilize teammates and polish his defensive game he’ll challenge for first-line NHL winger duties.

The most telling portion of scouting reports also comes from the Recrutes.ca site. This site speaks with current NHL Scouts as they observe the players, and there are some definite red flags about Tippett, such as:

I like his skill level a lot. Hes a natural goal scorer, which everybody covets. I think he’s a moody player, a moody kid when you meet him, he’s a guarded kid. I think his playmaking is underrated. He’s more than just a shooter in my opinion. I think he’s still growing up. When he wants to play he plays. Drives the coach bananas, but he can also win you a game. I think if he wakes up and decides to be a consistent player he has a chance to be really good. the playoffs will be important…we’ll see if he gives a consistent effort.

And:

He’s either really good or you don’t notice him. That’s how guys like him play. they don’t have a fallback if they’re not scoring. If it’s 2-1 or 3-2 be out there defending..it’s great to score..but don’t get scored on…play a harder game defensively. But those guys don’t do that. He’s not going before 7..,I don’t imagine. You like what he can do, but you don’t like those scoring mentality guys who don’t want to do anything else. It was nice to see him make a couple of plays but we all know what type of player he is..you just have to look at his stats..he’s a shoot-first guy. There some good options around that area too..so if he falls out of the top ten it wouldn’t shock me. I do appreciate him, but I don’t like one-trick ponies.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

This is tough, because the Avalanche need to have that pure sniper that can score from anywhere. The guy who always thinks shot first no matter the situation and who will always make the goalie make a save. The questions with Tippett, however, are his defensive game and his attitude. Tippett may be an offensive dynamo, but the scouts talking about him being the type of player who doesn’t always decide to bring his top game is troublesome. The Avalanche have been filled with players who “take games off” for the last several seasons and I would be surprised if the Avalanche want to take on another player like that.

Looking around, it’s hard to find a player with a better combination of offensive skills, but knowing that the Avalanche like to target players who play all 200 feet and bring a consistent effort, I would be surprised if Owen Tippett was the selection for the Colorado Avalanche.

 

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Casey Mittelstadt

The journey towards the 2017 NHL Draft continues, so we will continue down the rabbit hole of prospects. Next up, Casey Mittelstadt.

For the previous prospect, Gabriel Vilardi, click here.

Casey Mittelstadt

Casey Mittelstadt currently plays for his high school in Minnesota. He has also played with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL.

Mittelstadt is 6’1″ and 201 lbs, and is the third ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting. He is a left-shooting C/LW with excellent scoring abilities. His place in the draft is very up for grabs, however. He ranges from fourth to fifteenth depending on the mock draft you find.

Game Overview

Mittelstadt is an incredibly attractive prospect. He has pretty good, though not overwhelming size, an engine that never quits, and incredible hockey IQ. Things that are mentioned in all of his scouting reports are his vision, stick-handling, and excellent skating. His production at all levels has been fantastic, going over a point per game in international play and in the USHL; and nearly a goal per game while playing with his high school. He’s a younger prospect and has committed to play for the University of Minnesota next year.

Lots of scouting reports, so buckle in.

NHL Central Scouting:

“MITTELSTADT IS ONE OF THESE ANOMALIES THAT COME ALONG EVERY FEW YEARS [FROM HIGH SCHOOL HOCKEY]. WE’VE WATCHED HIM PLAY AGAINST HIS PEERS IN INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENTS AND HAVE SEEN HIM PLAY IN THE USHL AND AT VARIOUS CAMPS, AND HE ALWAYS MAKES A DIFFERENCE. IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER WHERE HE PLAYS BECAUSE YOU GET THE SAME GAME FROM HIM NO MATTER THE ENVIRONMENT.”

Future Considerations:

A smart, quick and highly skilled center…has a tremendous first-step jump, change of pace and ability to make defenders miss…though not the biggest or strongest player on the ice, he finds success in loose puck battles by using his smarts and insane ability to shield the puck from defenders…never takes a shift off, and has added noticeable muscle and speed this season…will finish chances with a quick release on a wrister or powerful snap shot…puckhandling skills are excellent and he is able to create scoring chances in almost all of his offensive-zone shifts using his great vision and understanding of the game…aware of his defensive responsibility and backchecks hard to cover…sets up scoring chances using accurate, hard passes…always in the action and loves being the go-to guy…can beat defenders or gain the zone by utilizing this hands, feet or brain…a potential future top-line, two-way guy.

Elite Prospects:

An electric offensive presence on the ice, Casey Mittelstadt brings the complete package of speed, skill, and hockey sense. He competes hard with every shift, and has the dynamic puck skills to keep up with his creativity, which is a hallmark of his game. His awareness is all-encompassing, and he never puts his teammates in positions where their time and space will be bottlenecked. Bigger players don’t phase him, as he thinks the game analytically and will find chinks in the opposition’s armor on the fly. As a result, Mittelstadt is often seen forcing more complicated plays that the opposition won’t be able to read in time. On top of all this, he can play a north-south game, and his transition game is already at an elite level. He’s a complete player with the predatory instincts necessary to succeed as a consistent and, perhaps, dominant point producer at the next level.

ISS Hockey:

Mike Morreale:

The University of Minnesota recruit has elite puck skills, NHL quickness, and has excelled at every level. Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) was MVP of the USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game in September, had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 16 games with Green Bay of the United States Hockey League early in the season, and now is the leading scorer for his high school team.

Hockey Prospectus:

An average-sized smallish player who keeps fans on the edge of their seats with his great puckhandling skills and good hands. Highly skilled offensively, he can twist and turn with the puck using his slick hands and blazing speed. Is a good passer as his vision and passing skills are above average.

Draftsite.com:

Thick, strong high schooler who dominates the entire ice. Moves quickly and efficiently into the attack zone and tilts the ice with continual carries that create advantageous looks for his team. Seems to be far superior to his present teammates, and it lessens his dominance. If his hockey IQ reads openings on the ice and dont see what he does, they are less likely to be in advantageous. This make him seem less effective, but his high skills are less evident. You are selecting him and waiting as he develops, Committed to University of Minnesota.

The Hockey Writers:

Casey Mittelstadt is an offensively gifted center that was ranked in in the top-6 of all draft rankings by the midpoint of the season and later. With a high hockey-IQ, good vision, solid hands and speed to back it all up, Mittelstadt enters the 2017 NHL draft as one of the top North American prospects to keep an eye on. In 24 games with the Green Bay Gamblers in 2016-17, Mittelstadt scoring 13 goals and 30 points while only receiving two penalty minutes.

Mittelstadt has legitimate NHL size at 6 foot 1 and 201 pounds. While he won’t throw his body around like some of the bigger prospects tend to do, Mittelstadt is more than capable of holding is own when skating down the ice with his north-south style of play. With a tremendous passing ability coupled with his ability to score goals, Mittelstadt has the makings of a top playmaking center at the next level.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

We’ll know a little bit more about where the Avalanche will draft in the first round after the lottery tomorrow, but I must admit that Mittelstadt is incredibly enticing. His confidence with the puck is pretty outstanding and his abilities with the puck make his confidence very well founded. He’s young and won’t play in the NHL next year, but he will be playing at a fantastic NCAA program at the University of Minnesota.

First or second overall? No way. Third? You can make a case, but still probably not. Fourth, it really depends on the team. For the Avalanche I really do like him. No, he won’t be in the NHL next year, but it’s not like we’re really expecting the Avalanche to be a playoff team next season. He’s got a much larger long-term upside than immediate dividends, which is definitely okay by me.

This draft is very hard to peg, so it’s possible that Mittelstadt could fall outside the top 10, so perhaps the Avalanche could be interested in trading for another first round pick? Or even moving down a few spots? There are a lot of scenarios where I could see Mittelstadt ending up with the Avalanche, and I wouldn’t be too unhappy about it.

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Gabriel Vilardi

Continuing down the rabbit hole that is the 2017 NHL Draft, we find our next draft prospect, Gabriel Vilardi.

For the previous prospect, Nico Hischier, click here.

Gabriel Vilardi

Gabriel Vilardi plays with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. He is a right-shooting center/winger finishing his second season with the Spitfires.

Vilardi is 6’3″ and 201 lbs., and is the fourth-ranked North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting. Even though Vilardi is ranked #4, he is currently the third overall pick in pretty much every mock draft out there.

Game Overview

Vilardi has a lot to like about his game. He’s a big body and uses his size to his advantage. Whether he is protecting the puck to maintain possession or outworking his man against the boards, Vilardi knows how to use his size. He has outstanding offensive instincts, sees the ice well, and has a great release to his shots. He’s not the best skater out there, but that can always be improved and he has the hockey IQ to overcome this. Here’s what the scouts say.

Future Considerations:

A dynamic and often brilliant offensive attacker…has skilled hands and outstanding awareness…looks to set up his linemates with timely passes, but can also finish off the play when the opportunity is there…has nice size and uses it to protect the puck…has a quick jump and agility on his feet, but is not really a speed demon screaming up the ice…plays aggressively both when his team does and does not have the puck; often hunting it down and stripping it from his opponent…has a bag of tricks he uses to shake defenders and get his hard, accurate wrist shot off or dish a soft pass…very difficult to knock off the puck and is able to dangle in very tight spaces while under heaps of defensive pressure…a toolsy center who is just scratching the surface of his potential…a constant threat in the offensive zone…has the look of a future offensive catalyst at the NHL level.

Draftsite.com:

Big solid centre-forward who can score. Has come back from injuries and was a top player in the World Junior U-17s. Displays a two-way game, great skills, and uses his body to make space. Best player in the OHL. Smart, strong, and strong on the puck. Strong on the cycle, makes terrific feeds to his teammates, and dominates when pucks are in contention. can come of the edge with truly strong power moves to the front. He has shown true goal scoring abilities and projects as at very least, top six scorer if the trends continue to improve.

ISS Hockey:

Recrutes.ca:

Versatile forward has played on the wing for most of the season but may be asked to fill a top-two center role due to his vision, reach and all-around puck skills and playmaking abilities. He also has goal-scoring talent, which makes him a second-line forward prospect or better with improved mobility.

Mike Morreale:

The enhanced stats tell us [Vilardi] is the engine on this team because whoever plays with him, their Corsi numbers go straight up and are increased,” Thompson (Windsor head coach) said. “Without him, they drop significantly. We’ve had a ton of injuries this year so it’s been a revolving door with our lines but the one common theme has been Vilardi’s ability to make the players with him even better.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

Once again, this will entirely depend on where the Avalanche end up after the draft lottery. Since the Avalanche could end up anywhere from first to fourth overall it’s hard to answer. If the Avalanche select first or second, then they will almost definitely go with Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier. If the Avalanche are third or fourth, then they will have to wait and see who is selected before them.

At third or fourth, you have to like Vilardi as an option. The guy is always dangerous on the ice and he works hard. He’s not the fastest guy out there, but he creates and has all the right instincts to be dangerous for a team that has lacked scoring in a bad way. Not many people in this year’s draft are likely to make a team next year, but Vilardi seems like he wouldn’t be a really big project. Grow into his big frame a bit more and work on his skating and this kid could come in after a year ready to surprise.

Colorado Avalanche and the NHL Expansion Draft

Now that the Colorado Avalanche have finally finished the 2016-2017 season (which shall become known as the season that shall not be named) it is time for the Avalanche to look ahead to the NHL Expansion Draft. The expansion draft will be the first step for all teams to shape their roster for the following season.

The Rules

The new Las Vegas Golden Knights will be selecting one player from each NHL team, with each team being allowed to protect a certain number of players. So how will this all shake out? To fully be able to predict this, we have to take a look at the rules first.

Las Vegas is only allowed to select one player from each of the existing NHL teams, and they must select one player from each of the existing teams. They must select 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies. There are more rules regarding contracts and salary cap numbers, but I’m not going to cover all that here.

Each NHL team is allowed to submit a list of players to protect, which will prevent them from being selected to Vegas. Teams may do this in two ways: 1) Provide a list of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or; 2) Eight skaters (forwards or defensemen) and one goalie. Different teams will have different preferences on this, but some teams may also be forced to go one way or another based on the exposure requirements.

Each NHL team must expose the following players. I’m quoting this directly from the NHL.com expansion rules site.

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

Teams do not have to expose any players that are first or second year pros, or unsigned draft picks. So the likes of Tyson Jost and Mikko Rantanen will automatically be protected without counting against the total number of players the team submits.

On the other side of this, players with no-movement clauses in their contract must be protected, unless they agree to waive this, and will automatically count against the team’s protected list.

One other thing teams have to consider is whether or not they wish to protect any pending free agents, either UFA or RFA. Vegas is only required to select 20 players with contracts for the 2017-2018 season and, according to Pierre LeBrun, Vegas can negotiate with UFAs and RFAs that are not protected by their teams in a 48 hour window before the expansion draft.

 

…the Vegas organization will have a 48-hour window ahead of the expansion draft in June to speak with and sign any pending unrestricted or restricted free agents whom the 30 teams left unprotected for the expansion draft.

…Another important detail: If any of the 30 teams loses a free agent to Vegas during this 48-hour window, it no longer can lose anyone in the expansion draft. In other words, that free agent lost counts as the one player lost in the expansion draft.

Still with me?

Who Do The Avs Protect?

Here’s where things start to get a bit tricky as the Avalanche have a slew of free agents coming up and also have some areas where their exposure requirements may push them in one direction or another. For the Avalanche, though it takes some massaging, the best option seems to be the 7-3-1 option.

1 Goalie

The goaltender you protect right now is pretty obvious, in my opinion. You protect Calvin Pickard. It’s true that the Avalanche are hurting for goalie depth right now, especially if Semyon Varalmov is taken, but this is a gamble worth taking. Varlamov is not really an appealing option for Vegas due to his injury history and poor overall play the past two seasons. True, if he’s 100% and on his game, he’s a game changer, but that would be a huge gamble to take and there will likely be better goaltending options available.

3 Defenders

Defense is a little bit tricky for the Avs as they have four total defensemen that are under contract next season. Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin both have NMCs on their contracts and must be protected. This leaves a choice between Tyson Barrie and Mark Barberio. This seems pretty straight forward, but here’s the thing, Barberio does not meet the games played requirement for exposure. Additionally, I can guarantee you that the Avalanche are also going to want to protect Nikita Zadorov, who will be a restricted free agent. So the Avalanche will have to do their best to get Beauchemin to waive his NMC so the Avs can protect EJ, Barrie, and Zadorov, otherwise the Avalanche stand a very good chance of losing Barrie for nothing.

7 Forwards

For forwards, the Avalanche have options. There are a few RFAs that the Avalanche will likely want to protect over some of their veterans, and they might have to in order to meet the exposure requirements. The choice of players to expose here is very simple and really will depend on which player the Avs feel still has some kind of place with the team. The three I would possibly choose from are Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, and Joe Colborne. So my seven forwards are: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Sven Andrighetto (RFA), Matt Nieto (RFA), Mikhail Grigorenko (RFA), and Carl Soderberg. This exposes Colborne and Comeau who both meet the exposure requirements.

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Nico Hischier

Our next 2017 NHL Draft prospect is a young Swiss player who has been storming up the draft charts all season, Nico Hischier.

For the previous prospect, Nolan Patrick, click here.

Nico Hischier

Nico Hischier plays with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. He is a left-shooting center/right wing finishing his first season with the Mooseheads.

Hischier is just about 6’1″ and 175 lbs., and is the #2 overall North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting, but he has jumped over Nolan Patrick in many mock drafts.

Game Overview

Watching Nico Hischier highlights makes it incredibly obvious why he has jumped up the scouting charts this year. He’s fast, creative, has outstanding vision, has great hockey IQ, just as dangerous a passer as he is a scorer. He can play wing and center and his hockey IQ makes him an asset in his own zone, as well. Read what the scouts all say, and you’ll be high on him, too.

Jeff Marerk:

Popped big at the WJC and CHL Top Prospects game, but has tailed off slightly. Was injured and since returning has played a slightly different game. Some scouts worry about some of the fatigue he’s shown, but his skills more than compensate.

Future Considerations:

A smooth-skating, playmaking center…good skating agility and top speed, but is more quick than fast…is able to make quick turns and displays good lateral movement…not big or strong, but still shows willingness to take hits and battle for space…goes into board battles and uses his body to fight for pucks…excellent playmaking instincts, vision and passing skills…puts puck where his linemates can best utilize the chance…an incredible stickhandler who thrives in possession and can make defenders look foolish…competitive and driven…poise is a major standout attribute…dangerous when given time, especially on the power play as he takes full control of the play from the half wall with the puck, using his impressive agility, hands and vision to make plays…plays a responsible defensive game…one of the best talents to come out of Switzerland.

ISS Hockey:

Draftsite.com:

The best Swiss player in the 2016 World U-18s, graduated to become their best player in the 2017 World U-20. He is a centre-wing with quickness and skill. Has a scorer’s mentality, but displays high passing skills to go along with his elusiveness. Great vision and follow through. He reads the play in both ends and when in control of the puck, he uses his soft hands and stick skills to move the pace of the game. Plays fast. Is great on his edges and his agility lets it appear as if he fazed in from nowhere to control pucks and score. Maybe more importantly, he seems anchored to the ice sheet — unfazed by contact — and plays strong on the puck, continuing through traffic to finish. In a congested crease area, he seems to root around and find the truffle before others realize it’s in the back of the net. He takes the pucks in open areas, reads the ice in front of him, slashes through defenders in the hard areas to the front and lets it fly with an extremely quick deceptive release. Adequate in his own end (positionally strong), but he knows what side his bread is buttered. Not big or edgy, and there is room for growth in both areas, but displays toughness in how he attacks, attacking the box and letting his sneaky wrist shot fly. In a draft class with the early marquee choices injured and the best of the rest seeing their production fall off, why not first over-all? He lacks thickness and can add pounds and muscle.

Recrutes.ca:

The “Swiss Can’t Miss” has taken North America by storm in this his rookie QMJHL campaign, being among the league leaders in scoring all season,a fn then his performance at both the Top Prospects Game and WJC’s only cemented his status as a top-two prospect for the draft. His combination of elite skill and hockey sense make him arguably the best two-way forward available. He has top-line upside if he gains the strength needed to face the NHL’s top players.

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

The answer to this question, of course, will depend on where the Avalanche are actually drafting. Now we all know that the Avalanche have the best odds of receiving the top overall pick, but with the top three picks being part of the lottery it is possible that the Avalanche could select as low as fourth overall. If the Avalanche are anywhere out of the top two, it would be shocking if Hischier were available.

If the Avalanche do get one of the top two picks, I find it very difficult to find a reason not to draft Hischier, even if you have to choose between him and Nolan Patrick. Hischier’s upside is the main reason why I say this. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Patrick isn’t going to be an outstanding player, it just seems that Hischier is the one of the two that has the more high-end skill. It really is a difficult choice between the two and I am leaning Hischier at the moment.