CHICAGO – The Colorado Avalanche continued their draft haul at the top of sixth round, using the 156th overall selection on Penn State forward Denis Smirnov.
Smirnov is listed at 5’10”, 185 pounds and was a third-year draft eligible player. After spending three full seasons in the USHL, Smirnov found himself as a freshman on last season’s surprising Penn State hockey team, where he tallied 47 points (19 g, 28 a) in 39 games played. His performance was good enough to be rewarded with a spot on the B1G All-Rookie Team.
The Black Book had this to say about Smirnov:
Smirnov is a third-year draft eligible player that has had scoring success in the USHL and then a very productive freshman season at Penn State (Big 10) although his size has mostly likely has hindered his name from being called on draft day. He skates well and is agile on his edges as well as thinking the game quickly which allows him to make plays with speed. While he shows good decision making to quickly create opportunities, he could improve upon his speed eventually for the pro levels since size and strength are his barriers to overcome. He does some of those little plays with and without the puck you do not teach, thus his hockey IQ is good. He has nice offensive awareness and vision with the puck. Smirnov has had success at each level winning USA Hockey U14 Nationals, Clark Cup Champion in the USHL, and most recently Big 10 Conference Champion in the NCAA. He has a strong possibility to be a mid-round selection in June.