Let's be honest, all we're thinking about today is the NHL draft. I'll be the first one to say my productivity today will be approaching the low it hits around the trade deadline.
Tonight, the Avalanche will pick #2 and #11, the former being the highest draft pick the Avs organization has had since moving to Denver. Two years ago, Colorado picked third overall, and may have gotten the best player in the draft, according to TSN.
This year, the top players aren't quite as clear, with three different prospects who could go #1 overall, and five or six who could go in the top-3. Nonetheless, the Avalanche and their faithful fans are hoping that whoever the club takes at #2 will be a game-changer for years to come.
We could do a mock draft of the entire first round, but for the sake of time, we'll look at who the Avalanche will/could/possibly/might/won't take with their two first round picks. Yes folks, it's that exact. We're talking real science here.
During the weeks leading up to the draft, the consensus around the Avalanche fandom was that the team would no doubt take Kitchener Rangers captain and left wing Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado is currently weak at left wing, and after dealing away power forward Chris Stewart, Landeskog seemed like a no brainer. His stock has dipped in recent weeks, though, amid reports that he may be closer to his peak than other prospect who may have a higher upside.
There have also been reports that the Avalanche are high on Saint John Sea Dogs center/LW Johnathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau has climbed up the rankings in recent weeks, thanks to his performance at the Memorial Cup. Then there is the teenager among men, Adam Larsson. The Swedish defenseman has been playing in the SEL for two years - and is only 18. Larsson is the top-ranked international skater, and some analysts say Edmonton will take him instead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
So here we are, on the clock. The Avalanche have heard offers for the #2 pick, but nothing has blown them away, and they were planning on using it anyway. If there's a surprise at #1 and the Oilers pick Adam Larsson, the Avalanche brass can pretty much run to the podium and select Nugent-Hopkins. But if things go down as expected, Avs management will have to choose from Larsson, Landeskog, Huberdeau, and possibly Sean Couturier. My guess is that the Avalanche take Huberdeau. They believe he has more upside than Landeskog, and can still fill in to match/exceed his physical profile. Plus, the team isn't drafting for next year - they're drafting for 15 years down the road. The fact that there will likely be high-end defensive talent still at #11 will allow the Avs to go with offense with their first draft pick.
#11 get's a little more murky. There have been rumors of GM Greg Sherman shopping the #11 pick for a goaltender, particularly from LA or Vancouver. Personally, I wouldn't go this route, putting my money on the fact that the Avalanche can land free agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun from Florida on July 1st.
Given their first pick, Colorado will very likely select a defenseman at #11. If I were Sherman, I would pray to the hockey gods that Niagara IceDogs d-man Dougie Hamilton falls to them at 11. With the Philadelphia Flyers moving to the #8 spot yesterday, though, I don't see that happening. A good bet is that they take Saskatoon Blades defenseman Duncan Siemens. Siemens was a teammate this year of prized Avalanche prospect Stefan Elliott, and the chemistry there could be too hard to pass up. Otherwise I think the Avs take Sea Dogs defenseman Nathan Beaulieu. He's a big guy who can carry the puck very well.
The Avalanche have been known to reach a bit in the draft, taking center Joey Hishon in the first round last year when most teams had him in the second. So we may see someone pop into that 11 spot that we haven't heard much of. Either way, it's going to be an exciting night, and the future of the team looks bright.