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.

2017 NHL Draft Prospects: Nolan Patrick

With this disaster of a season mercifully coming to an end, the Colorado Avalanche will now begin to turn their attention to this year’s NHL Draft. The Avalanche will enter the draft lottery with the best odds to receive the top overall pick, but there is no guarantee. The top three picks are part of the lottery, so it is possible that the Avalanche could select as low as fourth overall.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the first of many draft prospect possibilities. We’ll begin our list with the top prospect on the board, Nolan Patrick.

Nolan Patrick

Nolan Patrick plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. He is a big, right-shooting center just finishing his third full season with the Brandon.

Patrick is 6’3″ and 200 lbs., and is the #1 overall ranked skater according the NHL Central Scouting and pretty much every other scouting service out there.

Game Overview

Patrick has an NHL body that still will be filling out and is already checking off the big boxes that teams want to see. Great in all three zones, high motor, great hockey IQ, outstanding vision, possesses and protects the puck well. Yes, Patrick has missed a large chunk of the season to injury this year, but he has 46 points in 33 games and has done nothing but dominate the WHL this season. He will go in the top two, if not the first overall. Here are the goods on Patrick from the scouts.

Jeff Marek:

Since returning from injury has shown that he deserved to stay atop draft lists. Does everything so well, not flashy but has a pro style about him already. Think Jonathan Toews-lite.

Future Considerations:

A lethal combo of size, speed and skill; plays a power game and possesses one of the most well-rounded skill sets in the CHL…has great wheels and is able to surprise with his speed…hands and ability to protect the puck is high end…plays very responsibly with the puck, but also makes something happen each time he possesses it…uses his strength and reach to guard the puck, driving his way around the offensive zone…a heads-up, confident passer…has a sharp release on his wrist shot and is capable of beating a goaltender from anywhere in the offensive zone.

ISS Hockey:

Draftsite.com:

To most he is the 2017 draft class front-runner who does everything well. His greatest strengths at this point are his on-ice vision, maturity and competitiveness. Hopefully he will continue to improve into a three-zone player. He is already big and has displayed a notable improvement in his skating, mobility and strength. Excellent stop and start skater who explodes away from defenders. Light on his edges; difficult to contain when on the fly. Patrick is a terrific passer who holds the puck until just the right moment and then finds his spot. Goes to the net hungrily and with all possible dispatch.. A good decision maker; his development is coming along nicely, especially skating and on-ice pacing.

The Hockey Writers:

Numbers

Highlights

Should the Avalanche Draft Him?

Patrick brings a lot of things with him that the Avalanche are currently lacking. He doesn’t take shifts off, he has an engine that doesn’t stop, good size that also has the speed and skill to go with it, plays all three zones well, excellent passer and can score. Watching his highlights, I’m reminded a great deal of Chris Drury, especially in his skating.

There is no doubt that Patrick doesn’t contain the game breaking, once-in-a-generation style skill that Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews both possess, but he’s a player that still has all the necessary skills to be a star in the NHL. Young blood should be a mainstay on the Avalanche next season, and if it’s a player like Patrick, with all the above qualities, then it’s really hard to find a reason not to draft him. About the only reason to not draft him I can think of, assuming that the Avalanche are going to keep the top overall pick, is that the Avalanche believe another player has higher end talent. All in all, if the Avs do keep the top pick, it’s really hard to not like Nolan Patrick as the guy.

Matt Duchene: Is This Really His Last Season in Colorado?

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Matt Duchene has bled burgundy and blue since he was a little boy. The story of his longtime fandom culminating in the Colorado Avalanche drafting him third overall in 2009 is a great story that has touched all Avalanche fans since Duchene entered the league. In recent years, however, that feel good story has been jettisoned as the Avalanche have continued to struggle. Now that Colorado will finish in the NHL basement, yet again, the question that has been following the star Avalanche center looms larger than ever: is Matt Duchene’s time in Denver at an end?

The Rumors

Now this is not the first time that anybody has asked whether or not Duchene will depart from the Avs, far from it. That being said, this is the first time this question has ever had this feel with it; that feeling of inevitability. Previously the arguments never made any sense and, to a certain extent, many of the people still talking about this still don’t make much sense. The talk that Duchene can’t play defense, doesn’t know how to finish, doesn’t care, is a cancer in the locker room (yeah, somebody said that) just don’t make any sense.

Each of the past few seasons, some type of reason has come up to attempt to justify this trade and, until this point, it has always been unfounded.

The Facts

Duchene’s game has evolved throughout his years in Colorado. He went from a guy who was pretty much offense first, second, and last to a very responsible two-way player. Duchene’s face-off game alone has shown amazing growth; going from a 44% face-off man in his rookie season, to the best face-off player in the leage at 62% during this season.

Other facts to consider, since Duchene came into the league, in 2009, nobody on the Avalanche is even close to his production totals. Duchene is the leading scorer on the Avalanche (since coming into the league) by about 150 points. Now, it’s true that there has been a large turnover in players since that time, so let’s narrow it down a bit. Since 2011-12, when the Avalanche drafted Gabriel Landeskog, Duchene is the team’s leading scorer; and since 2013, since Nathan MacKinnon was drafted, Duchene is the team’s leading scorer. So for as much flack as Duchene takes for his streakiness, Duchene’s ability to score is definitely not a reason for the team’s overall lack of success.

Duchene has also never really dealt with injury. Only one season has Duchene missed more than 12 games, and that season he still came back and played on his injury far earlier than he should have. He also has years left on a very team-friendly deal that keeps him at a $6 million salary cap hit. All of these have made it an easy decision for the Avalanche to keep Duchene on their roster no matter how many times people jump up and smash that “TRADE DUCHENE” button. So why is it different this time?

Timing

I really think that the main thing to consider is the timing. Matt Duchene is now 26 years old, and has two years left on his contract, taking him to age 28. The big question that the Avalanche need to answer for themselves is this: how far away are the Avalanche from being a competitive team? At the moment, I have a hard time believing that the Avalanche are going to be a very competitive team for the next three to five years.

That begin said, it is possible that this is a overly conservative prediction. The Avalanche are going to have several young players that will likely be pushing to make contributions as early as next season. Players like JT Compher, Tyson Jost, and A.J. Greer will all likely be a part of the big team sooner rather than later. Throw in guys like Andrei Mironov, JC Beaudin, and Nicholas Meloche also possibly being thrown into the mix and suddenly it looks like there may be some much needed depth on the team.

So now we’re in the front office of the Colorado Avalanche assessing what is needed going forward. The Avalanche still have some holes and they need to figure out how to fill out the roster. Free agency hasn’t really worked, especially when trying to find defensemen. Maybe the best option is to pick one of the guys in the core to trade in order to bring back a legitimate NHL defender that can play 18-22 minutes every night. If I’m going to trade a guy that can get that kind of return, I need to be sure that that player can be replaced somehow and likely doesn’t fit into the window of success.

Can Duchene be replaced in the system? Maybe. There is a ton of promise surrounding Tyson Jost, and consider that the Avalanche will likely get a top offensive player in the draft this year, but there is no guarantee of it. Duchene also will be close to 30 by the time the Avalanche are likely to be truly competitive again. Both boxes are sort of checked off in this case.

There is no doubt that Duchene has been the team’s best player for a long time now, but his age relative the the position of the Avalanche system  and their likelihood of being a contending team again poses an issue. If the Avalanche were to trade Duchene, they cannot wait too long to do it, which means this offseason is kind of the ideal time. He’s still within the prime years of his career, his contract is still team friendly, and he would likely command a large return in a deal.

I hate the very idea of it, but looking at it from a purely business point of view, if the Avalanche do plan to move Matt Duchene, this summer would be the time to do it.

Colorado Avalanche Must Take the Long Road in Rebuild

Photo Credit: Brandon Andreasen

Nobody wants to hear this, but the Colorado Avalanche are about to launch into another rebuild. It appeared that the Avalanche were almost ready to make the turn into consistent, competitive hockey after the 2013-2014 season but it was not to be. Instead, Colorado finds itself in the same place it was almost a decade ago. With this in mind, the Colorado Avalanche must keep their eyes firmly set on the path and do it the right way, this time around.

Admit It

As most 12-step programs will tell you, admitting you have a problem is the first and most important step to success. For the Avalanche, they need to admit that they attempted to take short cuts for far too long and hurt the team’s future in the process.

It’s also time to admit that the team has managed their assets poorly for a long time. From taking an inexplicably long time to sign prospects that are clearly going to be a part of the team’s future to their entry-level contracts, to extending Brad Stuart before he had ever played a game for the Avalanche. Giving Francois Beauchemin and Jarome Iginla extra years on contract that include no-trade/no-movement clauses.

There are plenty more examples we could go through, but to do so is unnecessary. The Avalanche must admit to themselves that their “way” was not the right way and look for better examples to follow. The “Avalanche way” no longer exists; it’s a thing of the past and the Avalanche must let it go if they hope to ever become a competitive team again. So admit it, and commit to the right way to do things.

Accept the Process

We have now admitted that things haven’t worked out the way they were initially planned, so the team needs to start from scratch. One thing that this means for the team and fans is that restarting will be a painful process. The team will likely be bad for a few more years, but as long as the team manages to make appropriate decisions for the roster going forward, it can at least become losing with a purpose. Additionally, even if things don’t go as poorly as they could, the team needs to accept that this process is a long one that cannot be circumvented. Do not go throwing away draft picks to rent players at the trade deadline. Do not sign aging free agents to contracts longer than two years. Build the pipeline and take the time to do it right.

Get Young…Now

Joe Sakic has already said this is a priority for the team, though not enough happened to help that at the trade deadline. That being said, he didn’t have to do anything major at the deadline and didn’t. There are a number of players that will be coming off the books for the Avalanche that are 32 years or older, and they should be given their walking papers immediately. John Mitchell, Fedor Tyutin, and Rene Bourque all have no place left on the Avalanche and are in fact hurting the team by their presence as it keeps younger players from getting a shot. Cody Goloubef will also be a UFA and is the only of the group under 30, but he still doesn’t need to be a part of the Avalanche going forward.

It’s time to commit to the young players in this system and getting them the experience that they need to be successful is incredibly important. This, however, does not mean that you just throw guys in there. The communication between the minor league coaches and front office and the Avalanche coaches and front office must be constant. It will need to be a delicate balance of having enough veterans to fill out the roster but not so many it becomes impossible for you to give some of the younger players a chance. At the moment, this is a line the Avalanche do not walk very well.

Acquire Draft Picks…All of Them

This is one of the things that made the trade deadline such a disappointment for the Avalanche. One of the best ways to help your system rebuild is to acquire as many draft picks as humanly possible so you improve your odds of finding players you can develop into roster players. While this didn’t happen at the trade deadline, the Avalanche will have a few opportunities to move some players at, or before the draft to accomplish this.

DEVELOP

This is perhaps the area where the Avalanche have failed the most in the last decade. They must work as a partnership with their minor league affiliates and communicate better. It’s not enough to sign prospects and put them into the system and then just say “poof, develop!” It doesn’t work that way. Coaches throughout the system must work together to be on the same page. The Avalanche have failed miserably at putting the necessary people in place to develop their players, failed at communicating with coaches throughout the system, and have failed at getting players into the lineup with more than just injury call ups.

The Avalanche fans and organization have a long road ahead of them. It’s one that is going to involve a lot of difficult self-reflection and probably a lot of losing. It won’t be an enjoyable one, but as long as the team approaches it the right way and makes the right moves, everybody will enjoy the payoff at the end.

Colorado Avalanche: Was the Trade Deadline Good Enough?

Photo Credit: @Studio_hersh

The Colorado Avalanche needed to have a positive trade deadline to attempt to salvage anything from this season. There was a little action, but definitely not the flurry of trades that Avalanche fans had hoped for. So how did the Avalanche with their deadline deals?

Jarome Iginla Traded for Conditional 4th Rounder

Iginla being gone is a plus. I don’t care that the return was negligible, if not basically nothing at all, this is addition by subtraction. We’ve been saying it for quite a while now. Iggy is old, broken down and can’t do it anymore, so why would anybody expect anything even moderately decent in return? Just because he’s Jarome Iginla? That only goes so far when he can’t keep up and doesn’t contribute. The fact anybody took him and opened up a roster spot for the Avs is a plus.

Avalanche Acquire Sven Andrighetto from Montreal for Andreas Martinsen

Martinsen to Montreal for Andrighetto was an interesting trade. Martinsen’s got potential to be an okay player, but Andrighetto’s ceiling seems slightly higher. Sakic talked about wanting to be younger and faster and Andrighetto checks both boxes there and has a better offensive upside. Decent addition for forward depth.

Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog Still Avs

I honestly didn’t expect anything less at this point. The Avalanche are not in a place where they need to trade either of these guys. Both have team friendly salary cap hits and have term left on their deals. There’s no rush. I do have a feeling one will probably be moved this summer, but that’s just me. The Avs would have been silly to not take anything other than a sweet deal for either of those two guys, especially given that Martin Hanzal deal.

Still A Lot of Fat to Trim

Too many old guys kept along. Now, while I understand there is a need to have some people on the team to expose to the expansion draft, the Avalanche have many expiring contracts for older players that are obviously not going to be in the plans going forward. John Mitchell, Rene Bourque, Cody Goloubef and Fedor Tyutin all serve no purpose to the Avalanche moving forward. They are also not exactly desirable pieces so, to a certain extent, I understand how moving them didn’t happen. Even so, it’s disheartening to not see a team that is in such need of more draft picks be completely unable to do get any. But, again, understandable. Comeau, I feel is kept around very specifically to be exposed to the expansion draft and Francois Beauchemin is, well, Francois Beauchemin. Who’s going to take that hot mess?

Conclusions

I have a hard time putting this season 100% on Sakic. He’s the GM so obviously he shoulders a portion of the blame, but this team, I feel it is important to remember, was put together assuming Patrick Roy would be the head coach before Roy just up and quit. Would the team look different had we always known it was going to be Jared Bednar’s team? It’s really impossible to say since we don’t live in that alternative universe, but I am inclined to believe it would probably be a bit different.

All in all, this deadline was not good enough. I won’t go so far as to say a complete failure, because they did manage to move a couple bodies, brought in somebody younger and faster, and opened up a roster spot for a younger system player, JT Compher. Still, the team needed to shed more dead weight and try to get any kind of draft picks in return and it just didn’t happen. Could they still trade negotiating rights before the draft? Sure, but if nobody was biting on the bodies at the deadline, the probability of this happening is whatever comes right before 0.

No, I don’t think it’s time to fire Joe Sakic, though he certainly isn’t immune. It’s readily apparent that the Avalanche are likely going to be bad for a few more years, so Joe has to show that he is capable of doing the rebuild job right. When Roy was here, people wanted to take short cuts because of that one good season. Roy wanted to win now and that cost the team a lot in the long run. No more short cuts. Asset management needs to improve in a big way. No more trades for over the hill defensemen, or UFA deals with 1 too many years on them. Draft well, which Sakic has done in the last few seasons. Develop the players and then give them a chance. Stop this Duncan Siemens type purgatory. At some point you need to know what you have, and you’ll never know if you just leave them in the AHL. The draft is going to be the next place the Avs can make moves and I wager they will.

Potential Trade Option for the Colorado Avalanche

Photo Credit: Brandon Andreasen

It’s no secret to anybody watching right now, but the Colorado Avalanche are a bad team. The Avalanche can’t win at home, can’t win back to back games, are the most mentally fragile team I’ve ever seen, and have trouble putting out respectable efforts in multiple periods. It’s no wonder that they find themselves at the bottom of the NHL.

How this could have come to pass is one question that could take up several blog posts; but rather than focus on how the Avalanche fell, let’s take a look forward.

Send Out the Senior Citizens

The Avalanche cannot possibly be thinking playoffs right now, and the roster has far too many players over 30. The Avalanche are not in a position to win now, or even win soon, so the faster the team can go young, the better. So here are some potential propositions.

Jarome Iginla to San Jose for Picks

Jarome Iginla doesn’t fit on this team, at all. He can’t keep up and it’s obvious. San Jose seems like a possible landing spot for Iginla as the Sharks’ style would fit his abilities. They are also a contending team that could give him one last run at a Stanley Cup. The return won’t be great, perhaps a 4th round pick or later, and the Avalanche may have to retain some of Iginla’s salary. That won’t be an issue in the long run, however, as Iginla’s contract is up at the end of this season anyways.

John Mitchell to Montreal for Mark Barberio/or Picks

It would be nice for the Avalanche to be able to pick up a young roster player with some of these potential trades, but it’s not always likely; especially whens ending away some of the lower level players.

I’ve chosen Montreal for John Mitchell because Montreal is currently hurting for depth at center with the rash of injuries they have had. Now Mitchell is not the type of player that is going to replace Alex Galchenyuk, but he could provide some much needed depth.

I will readily admit that I’m not terribly familiar with Mark Barberio, nor do I have much knowledge about how Montreal values him in their system. What I do see with Barberio is that he is a bottom pair player who averages about 15 minutes of ice per game. He has only played 10 games this season, but has amassed a 61.9 CF % in that time. They simply might not have room for Barberio in Montreal, where he might do well with a bit more ice time in Denver.

Again, I’m not very familiar with his game or style of play, but his analytics suggest that there is promise. If Barberio isn’t the way to go, or the Habs don’t want to part with him, then it’s never a bad idea to keep picking up more draft picks.

Francois Beauchemin to Pittsburgh for ANYTHING

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

The trick in this one is Beauchemin’s No Movement Clause. If the Avalanche can get him to waive this, then you try to get him to anybody who will take him because Beauchemin has been terrible this season. I go with Pittsburgh on this one because Pittsburgh has had serious injury issues with defensemen this season and might be willing to put a veteran like Beauchemin in a depth position with little, if any, responsibility once their many injured defensemen do get back.

So how do you get Beauchemin to waive? You try to sell him on the idea of moving on from a team that he doesn’t fit with and that he isn’t going to be a part of next season anyways. Let’s be honest, if Beauchemin isn’t traded the Avalanche have to buy him out. Sadly he can’t be exposed to the Expansion Draft because of his NMC. Buyout or trade will be the only option.

Blake Comeau to Edmonton for David Musil & a Pick

There’s potential to add a few more pieces to this trade to make it work, but I could see Comeau possibly finding a home in the bottom six in Edmonton. Musil adds some more defensive depth to the system. He has a lot of size at 6’4″ and 207 lbs., and while he would be a project, could pay off in later years as a serviceable defender for the team. A pick helps give a bit more value to the Avalanche in this trade that would send an NHL roster player to the Oilers. Likely the Oilers’ third round this year, or second round in 2018.

Bigger Moves

Here’s where the waters get to be a bit murky. People want change, but some people want to scorch the ground completely. There is a narrative, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong, that it has been proven that this core of players can’t and won’t be able to get it done together. That there is no chemistry so the best thing the team can do is send them all out and start again from scratch. I don’t subscribe to that, but I do think that you can possibly send a couple people out. Here’s the players I send away, feel free to throw tomatoes at me when I’m done.

Tyson Barrie to Toronto for James Van Riemsdyk

Kerri Polizzi | Flickr

James Van Riemsdyk is a very solid top six player that has a lot of good jam to his game. He does will in the ugly areas. He will likely end up being a cap casualty as the young studs finish out their entry-level contracts in Toronto. Barrie has been abysmal, but maybe a fresh start with Mike Babcock would help out. I’m sure Barrie could be a better option for the Leafs on the blue line than Matt Hunwick. Right?

Gabriel Landeskog to Tampa Bay for Anton Stralman

This one is a bit of a twist from a proposal my buddy Dion made. His proposal is Landy+Barrie <—> Drouin+Stralman. I can get behind either, but I’m focusing on single players, so here we go. Tampa has several injuries they’re dealing with, including: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Nikita Kucherov. Landeskog would fit in well with this group, and Stralman would be an excellent addition to the Avalanche blue line.

Tampa does have Stamkos on the LTIR, which means they get relief for his cap hit. Otherwise, this becomes a very difficult prospect.

Burgundy Brigade Podcast: Post Draft Edition

Aaron is back in the country again, and he joins Kevin to discuss the recent NHL Draft for the Colorado Avalanche. The boys talk about each pick and give an overall impression of the entire draft, which includes moves that the Avalanche both did and didn’t make.

Once the draft runs its course, Kevin and Aaron preview the impending unrestricted free agency to identify a few players the Avalanche should target. And, as always, they answer your questions from Twitter, Facebook, and The Burgundy Brigade hotline (720)477-3762.

Articles referenced:
Round by Round selections: http://bit.ly/29iGWYa
2016 NHL Draft Overview: http://bit.ly/28ZJJWj
Important of a Goalie Pipeline: http://bit.ly/290LczH

Colorado Avalanche Draft Round 7: Travis Barron

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With their final pick of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche select Travis Barron. Barron played in the OHL with the Ottawa 67s and is a left-shooting left wing.

Barron is 6’1″ and 187 lbs, so he has a bit of growing to do to fill out a pretty good frame. He’s a two-way player that has some good offensive finish to his game but it hasn’t really shown to be as consistent as teams would like. A project with a good middle/bottom-six potential.

Scouting Reports

Draftsite.com:

Powerful tenacious winger. and grinder candidate who loves to jam the front with abandon. At times has shown nice stick-handling skills and at times some elusiveness, but the fact remains there have been long stretches where he seems slow, behind the play and unable to form a cohesiveness with teammates to make “looks” that go into the back of the net. Truly disappointing growth, and his 15 goals (two in the five playoff games) can’t be viewed as reason to be excited if he still on the board in the third round.

The Hockey Writers:

Barron is an all-situations type of player, one who can excel on top penalty killing or power play units. After playing centre in midget, Barron has transitioned to a wing position in Ottawa, where his strong defensive play makes him a great asset. While he isn’t the type of player that can carry an offense by himself, Barron has soft hands and a fantastic shot that allow him to play in a top-six role. While only slightly above average in size (187 pounds), Barron isn’t afraid to throw his weight around and use his body to protect pucks down low.

While the physical play and two-way game are certainly there, it’s certainly a little disappointing to see Barron’s production not take off like many anticipated. However, the potential for more is definitely there, and if Barron can show more flashes of high-end potential down the stretch and into the playoffs, it might be enough for a team to take a chance on him before the end of the third round.

The Draft Analyst:

Barron is a feisty two-way winger who settled into a support role for the 67’s when it became apparent he wasn’t living up to his potential on offense. He has good size to compliment an unquestionable work ethic, and even though he was a bit of a streaky player, Barron was able to stick within Ottawa’s top-six as the games became more important. He was the third overall pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection and one of the 67’s top players in the postseason. Barron is bound to find gainful employment in the NHL. The question is in what capacity?

Numbers

Highlights