The Avalanche kept their word and started the Draft by selecting Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads first overall. Only time will tell if this was the right selection however, no one can deny the potential of MacKinnon which immediately helps the top 9.
After MacKinnon, the Avs mostly focused on selecting Defense. Although rated as a position of strength on hockeysfuture.com with the likes of Tyson Barrie, Duncan Siemens and Stefan Elliott, the Avalanche management did not think that was enough selecting 5 blueliners with their remaining 6 picks.
With their 2nd selection in the 2013 draft, the Avalanche took Chris Bigras, a projected first rounder. Bigras is a solid two-way defenseman who was known to scouts for his shutdown game, with a little offensive upside. Standing 6’0” tall and weighting at 187 lbs, Bigras will take a few years to fully develop, and should remain in the OHL with the Owen Sound Attack for the remainder of his junior career.
In the 3rd round, the Avalanche selected netminder Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads. Martin finished the year with a 17-21-0-4 record, a ,906 save percentage and 3.02 GAA. As all goalies, we shouldn’t hear much about him for a few years, especially with Pickard, Aittokallio, Patterson and Millan already in the pipeline.
With their 4th selection, the Avs named Mason Geertsen of the Vancouver Giants. Geertsen is known for standing up for his teammates and does not shy away from a fight. At 6’4” and 203 lbs, Geertsen is already NHL sized however should also finish his junior career before jumping to the AHL.
In the 5th round, the Avs selected Will Butcher, a smaller blueliner who is set to play at the University of Denver. Coming after Butcher was Ben Storm, a hulking defenseman, standing at 6’6” and 229 lbs, who will play for St. Cloud State University next year. With their final pick, the Avs selected Wilhelm Westlund who currently plays for Färjestad BK of the Swedish Elite League.
The new regime definitely saw the defense as a huge need of upgrade, making me question not selecting Seth Jones even more. They also lack prospects at both wings which will hopefully be addressed next year, which is being projected as another deep draft, albeit not as much as this one.
Patrick Roy also announced on Sunday his projected three first lines which should be comprised of the following starting at training camp;
O’Reilly – Duchene – Parenteau
Landeskog – Stastny – Tanguay
McGinn – MacKinnon – Downie
Roy admitted to not have spoken to O’Reilly yet about the change to the wing, which we all hope he will take with a positive attitude, moving from the 3rd line to the 1st with the change. Tanguay on the RW also brings questions as he is a left handed shooter and a natural LW. Hopefully the 2nd line can find chemisty, and Stastny could bounce back for three free falling seasons and once again earn his hefty paycheque. Downie and McGinn should bring a perfect blend of skill and toughness, to both protect MacKinnon, and help him adjust his offensive game to the NHL.
Also announced today, Matt Hunwick and Greg Zanon were places on waivers, most likely with the intention of being bought out by the club. This helps clear the logjam and should give both Elliott and Barrie, who have seen limited action thus far, an opportunity to prove that they belong with the big club. Duncan Siemens is another possibility to make the team out of camp, after finishing his junior career with the Saskatoon Blades this past season.
The Avs will hopefully continue their so far good off season with Free Agency opening on Friday, possibly targeting a Top 4 defenseman which would make the whole club more competitive for that playoff spots that has eluded us for three straight years.
More to come on the Free Agent period soon…