Well Avs fans let the speculation begin. Draft Order is set and the Avs will be picking 2nd and 11th overall. With only 72 left until draft, lets look at our options for adding some major Lawinengefahr this summer.
Without question the top defensive pick in the 2011 draft, Larsson has the kind of size and skill that make him a very attractive option for our Avalanche. Larsson has been touted as an excellent passer and as a right-handed shot, he could fit well on a d corps saturated with lefties.
Lefties: Liles, Cumiskey, Guance, Hunwick, Wilson, Quincey
Righties: Johnson, O’Byrne
My impression, however, is that despite his size and strength he isn’t as physical as one would want in an NHL defensemen. Victor Hedman, his former teammate is an excellent parallel for Larsson and lets be honest, if Tampa could do it over I think they’d take Duchene or Kane over Hedman. D-men are much more difficult to quantify at the draft then forwards, and I think it explains the general tendency to draft forwards in the first round and defense later on.
The Avs’ strength in particular comes in drafting talented young forwards. In our 15 year history, the Avalanche have only drafted 5 defensemen in the first round: Peter Ratchuk, Kevin Grimes, Martin Skoula, Robyn Regehr, and Kevin Shattenkirk. Overall, not the most impressive group of first round picks. The Avs have had one of the top 20 picks 8 times in history and are poised to have their 9th and 10th top 20 picks this summer, of those 8, only 1 was used on a d-man (Kevin Shattenkirk).
In fact, very few Avalanche defensemen are homegrown, of current Avs d-men, only Cameron Guance, (2nd Round), Raymond Macias (4th Round), John-Michael Liles (5th Round), Jonas Holos (6th Round), and Kyle Cumiskey (7th Round) were drafted by the Avs. I think Larsson would be an excellent fit for the Avalanche as a 3rd or 4th overall pick, unfortunately for him, there is too much offensive talent on the board at pick 2 and I would be shocked if the Avs select Adam Larsson. If they do, however, look for a seriously strong defensman with great offensive upside.
An absolute Avalanche clone, RNH has the skills, speed and stature to skate with the best of Avalanche prospects:
Stastny: 6’0" 205
Duchene: 5’11" 200
O’Reilly: 6’0" 200
Hishon: 5’10 170
Nugent-Hopkins: 6’0" 160
RNH has the kind of natural talent and leadership that make him near impossible to pass up, and a candidate for the first overall draft pick. Drafting RNH would fit very much within the Avs’ best player available mentality as they already have an incredible depth of NHL center’s and prospects. Nugent-Hopkins should fill out as much as Stastny and Duchene and I see him playing a very similar game to Matt Duchene. 1.53 PPG this season means Nugent-Hopkins has the skill to compete in the NHL, but it could take more time in the WHL to get the size.
I have no doubt the Avs will draft RNH if he’s on the board, but chances are, Edmonton will take him in the first round, and build their 1,2 punch at center. If the Avs pass up on Nugent-Hopkins, it is no doubt because they are too cheap to pay for the extra letters on his nameplate.
If we really have been Languishing for Landeskog, then it may have all been worth it in the end. Landeskog could be the most complete player in the early pickings, and is definitely the most NHL ready. Landeskog possesses superhuman strength, speed, durability and longevity (via the golden aplples of Idunn). When using his Reebok Mjolnir stick, Landeskog gains the ability of flight, energy absorption and projection, weather manipulation, dimensional transportation, and electric manipulation. (Landothor courtesy of andidee) = the similarities are eerie...
Landeskog plays a power forward game, but he’s not enormous, only 6 foot. Most scouts compare Landeskog to Philadelphia captain Mike Richards in his willingness to hit, scrap and stick up for teammates. More than anything, scouts have praised Landeskogs incredible poise and leadership potential. He was the youngest Elitserien player in Djurgarden’s history, served as captain on Swedens’ under 16, 17 and 18 teams, and is the first European Captain in Kithener Ranger’s history. Landeskog has all the benefits of the Swedish style of play, but has already adapted to physical North American style hockey. The boy, like all Swede’s grew up idolizing Peter Forsberg, and with the same size and weight, he is poised to play the same power forward style in the NHL.
While Landeskog may not be the most skilled player in the draft, he’s scored only 1 less goal than Joey Hishon this season and 5 more than Matt Duchene in his draft year (albeit with 11 fewer total points). Landeskog’s coach today says he has no doubt that Landeskog will be a captain in the NHL, and on a team somewhat lacking for vocal leadership, Landeskog could be the perfect fit. I personally believe that Landeskog will be the Avalanche’s first selection in the NHL draft if RNH is gone, and while players like Huberdeau and Couturier could have a higher ceiling on their hockey skills, players with Landeskog’s unique skill set and vocal leadership potential are rare and essential to a team that wants to win.