Looking Back at the Draft: 1995 Edition

PITTSBURGH PA - FEBRUARY 02: Rick DiPietro #39 of the New York Islanders mixes it up against Brent Johnson #1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on February 2 2011 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. The Penguins shut out the Islanders 3-0. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

In July of 1995, the Quebec Nordiques were sold to the COMSAT Entertainment Group, with intentions on moving the team to Colorado. Before the team was named the Colorado Avalanche, the club participated in its first ever draft on July 8, 1995 in Edmonton, AB. Only one of the players drafted by the Avalanche in 1995 is currently an active NHL player. It's also a draft class that did not have a significant impact for the Colorado organization as a whole.

Marc Denis

Position:  Goaltender
Catches:  Left
Height:  6' 0"
Weight:  190 lbs
Born:  August 1, 1977
From:  Montreal, PQ
Team:  Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Drafted:  1st Round/ 25th Overall

Before Patrick Roy was a twinkle in the eye of the Avalanche organization, the club used its first draft pick on highly touted goaltender Marc Denis. Denis would spend the next two seasons following the draft with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. He was awarded the Marcel Robert Trophy in 1996, which is given to the Scholastic Player of the Year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In 1997, he received the Jacques Plante Memorial Trophy for posting the best goals against average in the QMJHL.

After the 1996-97 season, Denis turned pro and spent most of the following two seasons with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL). By the time he arrived, the Bears had just won their eighth Calder Cup Trophy under the tutelage of Bob Hartley. After spending two seasons with the Bears, Denis spent the 1999-00 season as Patrick Roy's backup. Up until that point, he had only played five games for the Avalanche. He had a 9-8-3 record, 2.54 goals against average, and save percentage of 0.917.

Denis, who was itching for more playing time, was traded in June of 2000 to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second round pick. He spent five seasons with the Jackets, in which he averaged 53 starts per season, before he was eventually shipped off to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Denis was waived during the 2007-08 season by Tampa and was eventually reassigned to the Norfolk Admirals (AHL). He played the majority of the 2008-09 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL).

Marc Denis did not play professional hockey after the 2008-09 season.  He has since retired and currently works for RDS, a French language sports channel in Canada. He is also the goaltending coach for his old junior team Chicoutimi (QMJHL). Denis did enjoy some international success in his career, winning World Junior gold in 1996 (Boston) and 1997 (Geneva), in addition to a World Championship gold in 2004 (Prague). He was named best goalie in the 1997 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Nic Beaudoin

Position:  Left Wing
Shoots:  Left
Height:  6' 3"
Weight:  205 lbs
Born:  December 25, 1976
From:  Ottawa, ON
Team:  Detroit (OHL)
Drafted:  2nd Round/ 51st Overall

Nic Beaudoin never suited up for the Colorado Avalanche. After he was drafted by Colorado, Beaudoin spent a season with the Detroit Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) before turning pro. He was a member of the 1996-97 Hershey Bears club that won the Calder Cup Trophy. Beaudoin had only seven points in 34 regular season games that year. Beaudoin spent the next 10 seasons toiling around the minor leagues before retiring in 2004.

John Tripp

Position:  Right Wing
Shoots:  Right
Height:  6' 2"
Weight:  215 lbs
Born:  May 4, 1977
From:  Kingston, ON
Team:  Oshawa (OHL)
Drafted:  3rd Round/ 77th Overall

After the 1995 draft, John Tripp played two more seasons with the Oshawa Generals (OHL). However, he and the Avalanche were unable to come to contract terms following his 1996-97 season and he re-entered the draft. Tripp was selected by the Calgary Flames in the third round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

Tripp mired around in the minor leagues until a brief nine game stint with the New York Rangers in 2002-03 in which he had three points. The longest time he spent in the NHL was with the Los Angeles Kings in 2003-04 season. He played 34 games and posted six points. Since the lockout, Tripp has played in Europe. He is currently suiting up for the Cologne Sharks of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL).

Tomi Kallio

Position:  Left Wing
Shoots:  Left
Height:  6' 0"
Weight:  185 lbs
Born:  January 27, 1977
From:  Turku, Finland
Team:  Kiekko-67 (Finland)
Drafted:  4th Round/ 81st Overall

Tomi Kallio played five years with TPS (SM-Liiga) in Finland following his draft. He won league championships in both 1999 and 2000. However, Kallio never had the chance to suit up for the Avalanche. His NHL career began with the Atlanta Thrashers, who claimed the forward from Colorado in the 1999 NHL Expansion Draft.

After spending parts of three seasons with the Atlanta organization, he was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2002-03 season, before later being claimed off waivers by the Philadelphia Flyers in the same season.

Kallio eventually returned to Europe and has played with Vastra Frolunda HC of the Swedish Elite League (SEL) since 2003. He has won championships with Frolunda in both 2003 and 2005.

Brent Johnson

Position:  Goaltender
Catches:  Left
Height:  6' 3"
Weight:  196 lbs
Born:  March 12, 1977
From:  Farmington, MI
Team:  Owen Sound (OHL)
Drafted:  5th Round/ 129th Overall

Brent Johnson is the lone selection from the Avs 1995 draft class that is currently playing in the NHL. Johnson, who spent three seasons with the Owen Sound Platers (OHL), was traded to the St. Louis Blues in May of 1997 for a third round draft pick. Johnson was a part of the Blues organization for seven seasons. This included the 2000-01 season, in which he suited up for the Blues in game five of the Western Conference Finals against the Avalanche. Johnson and Blues lost 2-1 in overtime, but Johnson made a positive impression.

Johnson was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes, during the 2003-04 season, for forward Mike Sillinger. He signed with the Vancouver Canucks in 2005 after the lockout, but was scooped up on waivers by the Washington Capitals, where he spent four seasons. After being let go by Washington, Johnson, the grandson of Hall of Famer Sid Abel, signed a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Johnson currently serves as the backup to Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury.

John Cirjak

Position:  Center
Shoots:  Right
Height:  6' 2"
Weight:  180 lbs
Born:  February 10, 1977
From:  Burnaby, BC
Team:  Spokane (WHL)
Drafted:  6th Round/ 155th Overall

John Cirjak suited up for two more seasons with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL) following his draft year. He finished his Canadian major junior career with the Regina Pats (WHL) in the 1997-98 season. Cirjak never joined the Avalanche organization on a professional basis. He spent three seasons with various minor league organizations and has not played professional hockey since the 1999-00 season; which was with the now-defunct Colorado Gold Kings of the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL).  

Dan Smith

Position:  Defenseman
Shoots:  Left
Height:  6' 3"
Weight:  205 lbs
Born:  October 19, 1976
From:  Fernie, BC
Team:  Tri-City (WHL)
Drafted:  7th Round/ 181st Overall

After completing his junior career with the Tri-City Americans (WHL), Dan Smith spent nearly five seasons with the Colorado organization. The majority of the time was spent with the Hershey Bears (AHL), in which he was a member of the Bears Calder Cup winning team. He did suit up for the Avalanche for 15 games (no points), including 12 during the 1998-99 season.

Smith spent a year in Finland after leaving the Colorado organization and returned to the US to play with the Springfield Falcons (AHL). He would join the Edmonton Oilers organization in 2003 and played a large chunk with their farm team. He did get a seven game stint with the big club in 2005-06.

Three more seasons in the AHL, with different organizations, led Smith to the Louisiana IceGators and the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL). He played in nine games before announcing his retirement in December of 2009.

Tomi Hirvonen

Position:  Center
Shoots:  Left
Height:  5' 10"
Weight:  187 lbs
Born:  January 11, 1977
From:  Tampere, Finland
Team:  Ilves Tampere (Finland)
Drafted:  8th Round/ 207th Overall

Tomi Hirvonen spent the majority of his playing career in his native Finland for Ilves Tampere. There was a two year period in which he ventured to Sweden, but he returned to Ilves Tampere and SM-Liiga for the 2005-06 season. In 396 games in the Finnish league, SM-Liiga, Hirvonen had 114 points and 478 penalty minutes.

Chris George

Position:  Right Wing
Shoots:  Right
Height:  6' 4"
Weight:  225 lbs
Born:  July 28, 1977
From:  Mississauga, ON
Team:  Sarnia (OHL)
Drafted:  9th Round/ 228th Overall

Chris George had a brief taste of professional hockey before retiring after the 2001-02 season. He spent parts of two seasons with the Barrie Colts (OHL) after being traded from the Sarnia Sting (OHL). He had a cup of coffee with the Hershey Bears following his 1996-97 junior season with Barrie.  

George returned to Canada to play university hockey with the University of Western Ontario of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU, now referred to as CIS or Canadian Interuniversity Sport). He compiled 53 points in 70 games. Following his CIAU career, he had stints in Toledo with the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and in Long Beach with the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) before retirement in 2002.

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