Yesterday, we took a look at all the forwards attending Avalanche rookie camp. Today, as camp gets underway, I'll be looking at the 12 defensemen and 4 goalies, albeit at a bit slower pace than with the forwards...
6'1", 180 lbs, Defense, Age 18
Hockey's Future recently said that Stefan Elliott may be the "steal of the draft". Indeed, the Avalanche drafted Elliott towards the end of the 2nd round (the Leopold pick) when several mock drafts had Elliott going late in the 1st round. Like so many defensemen the Avalanche have drafted lately, Elliott has offensive skills; in two years of junior with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, he has 95 points in 139 games (.68 PPG) and has scored 25 goals.
While there may be some questions about the defensive ability of other prospects like Captain Kirk (Kevin Shattenkirk) and C+C Music Factory (Colby Cohen), Elliot gets props from HF for both his offense and defense:
Elliott is an all-around defenseman. While he excels in the offensive aspects of the game, there are no glaring weaknesses in his defensive play and he has shown the ability to adapt his game in different situations. Offensively he is an excellent passer and under-rated shooter, making him dangerous leading the rush, and on the power play. Defensively, Elliott makes up for a lack of strength and physicality with good mobility and very good positioning and defensive intelligence.
Interestingly, Elliott, Shattenkirk, Cohen and fellow 2009-draftee Tyson Barrie are all right-handed shooting defensemen, something the Avalanche have lacked in recent years.
Outlook: Elliott will be back in juniors for the upcoming season and there's very little drama regarding the defensive squad this year. Next year, however, it will be extremely interesting. Three of the veteran contracts are up (Foote, Clark, Salei) and youngsters like Elliott and Shattenkirk should be pushing for longer looks.