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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Post-Draft Thoughts - Avalanche Look to Major Junior

Once the smoke had cleared, the Avalanche got their guy - Matt Duchene - and added an additional forward, three defencemen and two goalies.

Round 1 (3) - Matt Duchene (C, Brampton Battalion)
Round 2 (33) - Ryan O'Reilly (F, Erie Otters)
Round 2 (49) - Stefan Elliot (D, Saskatoon Blades)
Round 3 (64) - Tyson Barrie (D, Kelowna Rockets)
Round 5 (124) - Kieran Millan (G, Boston U)
Round 6 (154) - Brandon Maxwell (G, US National Team)
Round 7 (184) - Gus Young (D, Noble)

In the first three rounds, the Avs strayed from US college hockey and went to Canada's major junior leagues in the CHL, grabbing two forwards from the OHL and two defencemen from the WHL. High-fives all around for those choices. Nobody likes to stereotype but gun to my head, I'd say it's the O that pumps out snipers, the W that pumps out D and the Q that gives us our lovable Francophone goaltenders.

Round-by-round Compustrike numbers
Round 1 was a no-brainer. A chimp could have got up and eeked out something sounding like "uchie" and everyone would assume he meant Duchene. But still, high-fives for not f'n it up!

In Round 2, the Avalanche made two excellent choices. I've watched Stefan Elliot and think he will grow into a solid top-four defenceman who can play on the #1 PP unit. In fact, some have labelled him as a Brian Rafalski-type player. He's got a shot at being on Team Canada for the 2010 World Junior tournament here in Saskatoon, which may be the first time an Avs prospect has played for Team Canada at the U20's. I've never seen Ryan O'Reilly play but I like the sounds of the scouting reports. Sure, he's not going to step on the ice this year and tear it up, but it sounds like he could mature into a top-six forward.

In Round 3, the Avalanche decided to go with Len Barrie's - yes, he of Lightning ownership fame - son, Tyson Barrie. He was partnered with Luke Schenn in Kelowna which gets my seal of approval. He put up some solid numbers in the Rockets run to the Memorial Cup and I'll be sure to be at the Blades-Rockets games to watch two Avs prospects duke it out on defence.

The Avs need more goaltending prospects and they looked to the late rounds to fill those up by grabbing Kieran Millan in Round 5 and Brandon Maxwell in Round 6. I could have sworn earlier today that Millan's stats were on hockeydb and showed a GAA of 1.67 in 28 games played this year, but I must have been off my rocker as . Maxwell would appear to be a longshot but there's something about Millan that has me slightly hopeful. EDIT: The Avs draft page say he posted a GAA of 1.94 while leading Boston to the NCAA championship.

And in Round 7, they grabbed another defenceman, Gus Young. I won't even attempt to say if this was a good choice or not. But he's got a good name, so I like him.

He won't know how successful this draft was overall for a few years, but on paper it looks pretty good. An argument could be made that we've got a lot of offensive defencemen waiting in the pipes and limited blue-chip goaltending prospects. But blue-chip goaltenders are tough to find and defensive defencemen often come out of nowhere to surprise you. I think the cubbard (intentional) is looking good.

Now we enter the free agency waiting zone where the Avs should be relatively quiet, unless they're able to offload some salary. And I wouldn't get my hopes up on that front if I were you.

Related Links Draft Wrap-up
Matt Duchene Post-Draft Interview (via MHH)
Duchene fist-pump knowing he was going to Colorado (via Jib)
5 Questions with Matt Duchene

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