The Avalanche have only one selection in the first three rounds. Some websites suggested that Colorado might go after Blake Wheeler because of that. Assuming that this won't happen (Wheeler will probably sign with Boston
), the Avs need to look for other opportunities to compensate the fact that they have traded some draft picks.
If Colorado announces the signing of Jose Theodore before Friday's draft, it could be possible that Francois Giguere will try to trade goalie Peter Budaj. May be he can get a 2nd round draft pick for him. There has also been trade talk and speculation surrounding forward Tyler Arnason and defenseman Brett Clark. Arnason is coming off a bad year. With the possibility of both Sakic and Forsberg returning and Paul Stastny still under contract, Arnason is definitely expandable. Don't forget that there is also T.J. Hensick who played some good games last year and is also looking to make the jump to a full-time NHLer next year.
As for Clark, he was a very dependable defenseman since the lock-out ended. He played meaningful minutes and averaged the most minutes played by any player on the Avs' roster behind Adam Foote. A reason that the Avalanche might be looking to trade him are the acquisitions of Foote and Salei. Both played solid when Clark was out with an injury. Colorado might also lose John-Michael Liles to free agency. With Salei, Hannan, Cumiskey, Leopold, and Clark already under contract and talks with Finger and Sauer (and probably Foote) going on, Colorado is lacking a real puck moving defenseman. May be Cumiskey can jump in to fill the void left by Liles. But that still leaves Colorado with 8 defensemen (assuming that Sauer, Finger and Foote will sign new contracts).
If Giguere is trying to sign all his pending free agents on the blue-line, don't be surprised if there will be a trade on draft-day.
Right now, Colorado holds the rights to the 50th overall draft pick. It's possible that the Avalanche will try to move up by offering a package that includes this pick, Budaj, and/or one of the defensemen. If Colorado chooses to stick with its pick, it could be interesting to see what the Avalanche are looking for. After drafting Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk last year and Nigel Williams the year before, Colorado has definitely stocked up its defense. Up front the Avs have some good guys in Galiardi, Stoa, Fritsche, and Stewart. But no one of the is expected to play a lot for Colorado next year. The weakest position could be the most important one of a hockey team: the goalie. Most promising goalie-prospects are Billy Sauer and Trevor Cann. However, if Colorado doesn't go with a goalie they will go with the best player available. The talent in their defense and forward pool is almost even.
The Hockey News have center Joel Champagne
listed at number 50, TSN thinks right wing Jared Staal
might still be around. Staal is somewhat a dark horse. May be he has almost the same level of talent that his brothers have and he just needs a little more time to develop. So he could very well be a steal.
Other players available could be Swiss offensive-minded defenseman Roman Josi
or some more checking line forwards like Patrice Cormier
, James Livingston
, James Wright
, or Josh Brittain
It will definitely be an exciting draft on Friday and Saturday. Some players will turn out as busts. Let's hope that it won't happen with the players picked by Colorado.