When the first day of the NHL draft ends, every GM in the NHL heads back to their hotel, sits, and stews over whether or not the guy they ranked as a first round talent will still be hanging around when round two begins. In 2009 the Avalanche only had to wait 3 picks to see if they would be able to draft their top choice, Ryan O’Reilly, 33rd overall and in 2013 they only needed to wait one pick before taking Chris Bigras 32nd. This year’s a little different, and the team will have to wait an excruciating 9 picks to see if anyone they rank high enough to be a first round prospect will be available at 40th overall, lucky for the Avalanche there figures to plenty of talent available at the top of Round 2.
Here’s a look at some potential fits for the Avalanche at 40th overall.
AJ: Hajek responsible defender on his own end, very disciplined. Shutdown ability with some offense but wont ever run your power play. Quick decisions with the puck in his own spark transition the other way
Cole: Big winger who plays an aggressive, heavy game in the offensive zone and has plenty of skill. Plays a pro-style game with a high hockey IQ and uses his large frame to it’s absolute fullest. He’s not the motor that makes Misssissauga go, go, go… but he does an excellent job of complimenting their squads best players Alexander Nylander and Mikey McLeod. Knowing how to read, react, and play off of top talent is an underrated ability that will take Bastian far in the NHL.
Cheryl: Girard falling to 40th would be a bit of a lottery win for the Avalanche. Girard is an elite offensive defenseman with speed, intelligence, and a quick, accurate shot. He’s reminiscent of former Av Kevin Shattenkirk but with a whole lot more defensive acumen. He’s also incredibly strong on the puck, something that belies his diminutive size of 5’10” and 165 lbs. Probably the best part of Girard’s game—or at least the most fun to watch—is his skating ability. His fluidity and maneuverability makes him one of the best in this year’s draft. He’d be perfect to slot in on that second pairing and top power play unit after a year or two of some sheltered minutes for development.
AJ: Benson is a big time talent slowed by injuries. He was ticketed to be a top 15 pick before getting hurt and he still showed plenty of flashes of being a potential star.
Cole: An good skater with high hockey IQ and a good two way game. His offensive tools might not be the best on the board, but he sees the ice well, never stops moving his feet, and loves to drive the net hard both with and without the puck. Grundstrom played against men last year in the SHL and was successful on both sides of the puck. He’s got a similar toolset as the Avs’ 1st round selection, Tyson Jost, but with a lower ceiling.