How good would Jaccob Slavin look in an Avalanche uniform right now? Pretty good, right? A 22-year-old, 6-foot-2, 205-pound left-handed shot defenseman with outstanding decision-making abilities in his own end and a touch of offensive flair. Exactly the kind of player the Avs want and desperately need.

Plus, he’s a Colorado kid. Born in Erie, a standout with the Colorado Thunderbirds youth program and a two-year standout at Colorado College. The Avs, understandably, were his favorite team growing up.

Unfortunately, Slavin plays for the Carolina Hurricanes, tonight’s opponent of the Avalanche (7 p.m., Pepsi Center, Altitude TV, 950 AM). Now for the part that really hurts: The Avs had two chances to draft Slavin in the 2012 NHL entry draft. He was right there for the taking, all the way into the fourth round.

Instead, the Avs chose Mitchell Heard (41st overall) with their first selection in that draft. With their next pick, overseen by then-head scout Rick Pracey, the Avs took Troy Bourke at 72. With the 120th pick, in the fourth round, Slavin was drafted by the Hurricanes.

Now, granted: A lot of teams missed on Slavin. The Hurricanes, in fact, took five other players earlier than Slavin in that draft. This draft is considered one of the worst in recent NHL history, the one that saw Nail Yakupov go first overall and Mikhail Grigorenko go 12th. It’s also a draft the Avs did not have a first-round selection, having traded it the year before to Washington for Semyon Varlamov (the Caps took Filip Forsberg at No. 11 with that pick, then stupidly traded him away to Nashville for…Martin Erat and Michael Latta).

But, boy, would Slavin look good in Avs uniform now. The kid from Erie and CC has the best plus-minus on the Hurricanes (plus-14), with 23 points in 62 games. He’s got a 53.3 Corsi at even-strength. He’s 19th in the NHL in blocked shots (126). He’s a big part of the Hurricanes’ penalty-killing unit, which ranked third in the league entering Tuesday, at 85.6 percent.

Now for the even tougher part: Slavin almost certainly isn’t leaving Carolina anytime soon. The Avalanche and Hurricanes scouted each other heavily in the weeks leading up to the March 1 trade deadline, and Slavin’s name appeared in a few published trade rumors, with Matt Duchene’s name also mentioned quite a bit in relation to Carolina being a possible destination.

As we now know, though, such a trade did not happen. Could one happen still this summer? Anything’s possible, but Slavin seems to be nearing that coveted space, if he isn’t there already, as an “untouchable” of the Hurricanes. Any why not? With the kind of numbers he’s already putting up, at his age and his position, GM Ron Francis would have to get an awful lot back for him. Duchene might not even be enough, by himself.

So, if you’re going to the game tonight, loyal Avs fan, you might not want to linger too much on Slavin. He’s the one who got away.

Mitchell Heard, by the way, today is playing for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL, the minor-pro affiliate of the…Carolina Hurricanes.

Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

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