In Part I, we saw a draft scenario that provided only a few out of several possibilities for the future of the Avalanche Lineup, with a few restrictions (no trades or F/A). The scenario was that the Avs drafted two swedes, and lifelong friends, Gabriel Landeskog and Mika Zibanejad at picks #2 and #11. This time around, let's take a look at some other draft scenarios involving both a forward and a defenseman.
Let's start with a note thanks to a post by Beachie on the Avalanche Pre-Draft Special, with the Avs calling Ryan O'Reilly as well as Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson "players to build around" (In case you missed it: http://video.avalanche.nhl.com/videocenter/console) Interpret that how ever you wish, but this is great news to the Radar fans who had any concern of him being traded at some point. As noted in Part I, Stastny and Duchene have both been described as capable of playing wing, so although Stastny wasn't mentioned as a building block for this team, he could still be a big part of our success.
With that said, June 24th will be an important day for the Avalanche organization, as there will be plenty of talent at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. One of the best overall players is Swedish defensemen Adam Larsson, who has drawn comparisons to future hall-of-famer Nik Lidstrom. Comparisons of that nature are difficult to live up to, but the upside is certainly there. Considered a rare defensive prospect, Larsson has a big body at 6'3" 200 lbs. It appears as though he did under-perform at the combine in terms of fitness, but at only 18 years of age a new NHL strength training program should easily make him stronger.
For the first option, let's say the Avs draft Adam Larsson at #2 and a forward at #11. For the sake that anything can happen at the draft, Ryan Strome slips to the Avs at #11 (currently ranked 9th overall by International Scouting Services). Anything can happen also means Strome could be taken in the top 5, maybe top 3.
A little on the smaller side at 183 lbs (175 on some sites), Strome was a candidate to go first overall near the beginning of the calender year. He has incredible hands, and was voted as the "Most Improved Player" and "Best Playmaker," and also finished in a tie for the "Best Stickhandler" in the OHL's Eastern Conference Coaching Polls. A right handed center who can be very good at the next level, Stome is a great skater who drives to the net and scores in traffic if he needs to. He scored 33 goals in 65 games in the '10-'11 season, so he is a goal scorer who could probably switch to wing given the Avalanche depth down the middle.
Remember, all of these options are based for the future, not necessarily next year or even the following year. Fleischmann and Mueller remain out and free agents or trades are not considered.
*With this draft scenario you may change the lineups however you prefer, post your preference in the comments.
Option 1 lineup:
Line 1.......... Duchene - Stastny - Hejduk
Line 2.......... Hishon - O'Reilly - Strome
Line 3.......... Galiardi - McClement - Jones
Line 4.......... Winnik - Dupuis - McCleod
Duchene or Stastny could center the first line making a potential offensive powerhouse. Assuming he can produce offensively like he did as a top-six forward this past year on a consistent basis, O'reilly can step up and anchor the second line with great playmaking wingers. This line would have very small wings, but they play fairly smart defensively. Strome and Hishon will certainly need work, but could greatly help our struggles in our own end. Due to their lack of size, Hishon and Strome may get pushed around, but in hockey what matters is core strength rather than overall body strength, so developing their core to make up for their smaller frame would be a valuable benefit.
McClement, Galiardi, and Jones will definitely help our defense. Centered by one of the best defensive forwards in the game, the thrid-line is perfect for McClement. Jones and Galiardi provide hard work in both ends of the ice as well, with Jones providing solid goal scoring to the line. The energy line consists of the always hard workers in Dupuis, Winnik, and McCleod.
DP1.......... Quincey - Johnson
DP2.......... Liles - Larsson
DP3.......... Elliott - O'Byrne
On defense the experience of Quincey could make him a top pair, provided he stay healthy and consistent. Johnson may bring out the best in Quincey which would be very good for this team. Liles' veteran leadership and offense combined with Larsson's poise and IQ can make for a good pairing in both ends. On the third line we have the safety blanket in Ryan O'Byrne, who played very well defensively for the Avalanche, and Stefan Elliott, who is arguably the organization's top prospect right now.
Another top prospect who may contend for the top spot is Jonathan Huberdeau. For the next option let's say the Avs go with a him at #2, and a defenseman at #11. Assuming Edmonton takes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall, let's say the Avs take Huberdeau 2nd and a guy like Duncan Siemens or Nathan Beaulieu.
Huberdeau certainly has flashy offense, but will need polishing in the defensive end. He does play with grit at times and has a fiery side, so I'm sure he will be open to trying to develop that part of his game. Courtesy of Bob McKenzie of TSN, scouts may actually see Huberdau's lack of size as a good thing because if he's this good at his weight, imagine how good he will be when he gets stronger.
Duncan Siemens is described as a stay at home defensman who has offensive ability. With our plethora of offensive D-men we could definitely use a guy like Simens, who, by the way, stands 6'3" tipping the scales at nearly 200 lbs. By the time he fully grows into his frame he could be around 215-225 lbs, not to mention he's a left-handed shot and most of the Avs talent on defense shoots right.
Nathan Beaulieu is a member of the Saint John's Sea Dogs Championship squad and is listed at 6'1" and 185 lbs. When fully developed he could be around 195 or 200 lbs; of course some of these prospects have already grown into their frame. Either way, Beaulieu has huge offensive upside and is most comparable to John-Michael Liles of any player on the Avs. However, he does have a physical side as well. After the read I'd recommend watching this video (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQFY2O3ssks). His offensive talent is certainly unquestioned, and he has a good hockey sense and should develop nicely into a solid defender.
One of Siemens or Beaulieu should be available at 11, maybe both, maybe neither. With that said, lets take a look at the lineup for this draft scenario.
Line 1.......... Huberdeau - Duchene - Hejduk
Line 2.......... Hishon - Stastny - Jones
Line 3.......... Galiardi - O'Reilly - Winnik
Line 4.......... McCleod - Dupuis - Porter
Notes: Huberdeau, Duchene, and Hejduk would be a very good offensive line that can score goals and make plays. The second line would have great playmaking as well with Stastny and Hishon scoring and/or setting up Jones and the D-men. O'Reilly goes back to the third line with the development of Huberdeau and Stastny dropping to the 2nd line. With Galiardi and Winnik on his wings this would be a very hard working line, with good offensive potential. 3 lines of scoring and hard working defense could make us a great team, and the 4th line has proven to be an effective energy line.
DP 1.......... Siemens/Beaulieu - Johnson
DP 2.......... Liles - O'Byrne
DP 3.......... Wilson - Elliott
Notes: Picturing Siemens beside Johnson might make some drool (gross). Immaturity aside, this could be a great defensive pairing for years. Siemens could also pair with his current Saskatoon partner Elliott when they have both developed, providing instant chemistry. Liles and O'Byrne is a proven pairing, and Elliott with Wilson could be an exceptionally solid third pair, although Elliott has the upside to be a top 4.
Of course, the Avs have several different options as far as players taken at #2 and #11 (again, feel free to post your preferences in the comments). But for the third and final option, Let's say the Avs take the QMJHL League MVP Sean Couturier 2nd overall, and for this option lets take a defenseman we haven't talked about. For example, Jamie Oleksiak of Northeastern, who has generated a lot of talk with his combine performance.
At 6'4 195 lbs., Sean Couturier has a good frame and is very strong. His strength and size allows him to control the puck very efficiently, and in the Avs Pre-Draft video one of the scouts said he sees Couturier being as high end as Bobby Ryan or Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks. He matched his offensive numbers from last year, while appearing in 10 less games, and had been recovering from mono which is a very lengthy process. By the time he is fully healthy and developed he may fill out to 215 lbs. That may be optimistic, but had he not gotten sick he may have already been around 205-210 lbs. His only question mark is his skating ability since he is committed to the defensive end, but his mechanics give him the ability to develop his stride. It may take him some time to be NHL ready since skating ability is important in the NHL; his father was a mid-round pick and played fairly well in his short time in the NHL displaying good hands, however his skating ability held him back. My guess is, given his father's experience, he will do everything in his power to be an above average skater.
Jamie Oleksiak is a huge body, and showed good athletic ability at the combine. With proper time and development he could be along the likes of a Chris Pronger or Zdeno Chara, and he is a left handed shot. At 6'7 and 244 lbs., Oleksiak is starting to be seen as more than just a big body and should be a huge part of this team moving forward, given development progress.
Again, feel free to adjust these lines to fit your preference, post below.
Line 1.......... Couturier - Duchene - Hejduk
Line 2.......... Stastny - O'Reilly - Hishon
Line 3.......... Galiardi - McClement - Jones
Line 4.......... McCLeod - Dupuis - Winnik
Notes: Given the way the Avs scouts talked about Couturier, I could see them using him as a power-forward on the wing rather than at Center. This would give the top line every dimension needed to be successful (i.e. puck possession, offensive flare, gritty goals, flashy goals, and defensive presence). Couturier could play center on the second line and switch with Stastny or Radar. Heck, he could even be our third-line center and be our version of Jordan Staal for the Penguins.
DP 1.......... Liles - Johnson
DP 2.......... Oleksiak - Elliott
DP 3.......... Quincey - O'Byrne
Notes: Liles Jumps up to pair with Johnson. Oleksiak and Elliott provide good defensive presence, with offensive potential. Finally Quincey and O'Byrnce provide a shut down third pair, also with Quincey providing offense.
Keep in mind this is only an informative post with endless lineup possibilities, given certain draft scenarios. Although somewhat optimistic, the Avs could wind up with any of the players mentioned in this article. June 24th is nearing and the anticipation is getting heavier each day. The Avs have several talented players to choose from, and hopefully they are working just as hard in the other rounds as they are for the first. Again, thanks for the (long) read. Post your comments/preferences below.