The Colorado Avalanche might be more likely to get creative with their draft pick if they don’t have the first-overall selection.
The Colorado Avalanche are in the 2017 NHL Draft lottery, not the playoff hunt. It’s still several months until the draft lottery takes place — probably at the end of April, as happened last year. However, the Avs are in the hunt for first-overall.
It would be better if they didn’t get that first-overall pick.
The way that the draft lottery works is that the teams not making the playoffs get weighted according to their finish in the season. They then get put into a lottery to see which teams pick in the first three positions. The team that finishes last overall has the best chance at that first-overall pick, but it’s not guaranteed.
This year, the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights get weighted the same as the third-worst team in the NHL and won’t choose any lower than sixth-overall in the first round.
In any case, it’s highly likely Colorado will finish with either the worst or second-worst record in the NHL. That gives them pretty good odds at the first-overall, though the third-worst Toronto Maple Leafs won the 2016 lottery.
I say it would be better if the Avs lost the first-overall lottery. It’s highly likely they’d still get a top-three, or at least top-five, pick. Since this year’s draft isn’t as good as the last couple have been, Colorado would be likely to do more with a lower draft pick.
The Colorado Avalanche hate choosing a defenseman in the first round of the draft. They haven’t done so since 2011, when they chose Duncan Siemens 11th-overall. Since then Siemens has appeared in only one NHL game, so that hasn’t been a good addition for the Avs.
That said, teams have done better selecting defensemen even higher in recent years. Of course, the apex of that is Aaron Ekblad getting selected first-overall by the Florida Panthers in 2014 — he’s the cornerstone of their team now.
The Carolina Hurricanes selected Noah Hannifin fifth-overall in 2015. He was a rookie last year with four goals and 18 assists. He has 15 points (2 goals, 13 assists) in 43 games this season.
Ivan Provorov went seventh-overall the same season. He has 20 points in this, his rookie season. Zach Werenski, eighth-overall the same year, is doing exceptionally well with the Columbus Blue Jackets — 26 points in his rookie season this year.
If the Colorado Avalanche have a draft pick lower than #1, they may just use it to select defenseman Timothy Liljegren. The young Swede is a right-hand shot with world-class skating and excellent ice vision. He’s ranked as high as second-overall, but he could slip to seventh place.
In other words, Colorado would have a good chance at him. He would have to spend a year in the AHL to get used to the smaller ice, meaning he wouldn’t be helpful next season. However, Colorado needs to have foresight in their current rebuild.
That said, the Avalanche could get more bang for their pick with another scenario.
The Colorado Avalanche could get the first-overall pick and are unlikely to select anyplace lower than fifth. That could be very seductive to a GM looking to rebuild his team with young prospects.
Right now the bottom three teams are the Avalanche, the Arizona Coyotes and the New York Islanders. The Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets are next on the list.
Of those teams, the Coyotes and Sabres are very much in a rebuild. They’re definitely going to get a top-ten pick and could expect a top-five, especially Arizona.
They could lust after the idea of two top-ten or even top-five draft picks. If they thought they were on the long road to rebuilding, a prospect might seem better than a current roster player.
I’m back to lusting after Oliver Ekman-Larsson in burgundy and blue, though it’s doubtful even the first-overall from the Avs would pry him out of Arizona. (Top-three and Nicolas Meloche?)
Perhaps the Buffalo Sabres are a better trade partner. I’m looking at defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen again, who has more points with Buffalo than Ryan O’Reilly. (Cue laugh track.)
On the other hand, a contending team might like a crack at a top-five draft pick. Hey, Columbus Blue Jackets, how you doing? Look at this shiny draft pick for boring old Seth Jones. (Hey, our constant CBJ hookup has to be worth something.)
Ok, I acknowledge I’m not very good at dreaming up the specifics of this scenario. Tell me in the comments section which current NHL defenseman Colorado might be able to get for their first-round draft pick.
Anyway, I like the idea of the Colorado Avalanche trading their first round draft pick for a current NHL defenseman much better than trading a current core forward.
That said, if the Colorado Avalanche do win the draft lottery and get the first-overall selection, we can be sure to see Nolan Patrick in burgundy and blue next year. That’s certainly not a bad thing — the Avs just might be able to do better for their needs with a different scenario.