The 2012 NHL draft has been called a lot of things. Despite the mixed feelings and somewhat negative remarks on the lack of high end players in this draft, it is still one where you can find a player or two that can be developed into solid NHLers. To compare it to a more recent draft for the Avs, the 2012 NHL draft could look a lot like the 2008 NHL Draft when everything is all said and done. Even if you went as far back as 1999, a draft many compare the 2012 NHL draft to, a team can have some solid success as the Avs have shown.
2008 saw the Avs draft 2-3 potentially solid NHLers in Gaunce, Olver and Holos. They still have Chouinard and Condon in the system who may still turn into serviceable players or could go the way of the Hemingway. Even unsigned (by the Avs) Delmas could turn into a solid professional. Despite not having a first round pick, the Avs were able to add some quality team players to their system.
1999, considered one of the worst ever, still netted players like Radivojevic, Finger, and Vrbata. Vrbata would of course go on to be a solid scoring winger and both Radi and Finger had solid runs in the NHL. The draft also produced Hahl and Lindstrom, two players who have had a lot of success overseas but never really solidified themselves as members of the Avs at the NHL level.
2012 NHL draft is now here and the Avs are holding a pick in rounds 2, 3, 5, 6 and 7. With the past success with late picks like Liles, Jones and Vrbata the Avs have shown that every pick has the chance to add quality players to the system. They have not only drafted North American players but they have also reached out overseas (mostly in the later rounds). They have even been open to adding undrafted older players like Holos and Walker to the system with their later picks. Could we see players like Jesse Forsberg or Colin Smith brought in either at the draft or later with camp invites?
Brendan Gaunce, Derrik Pouliot, Z. Girgensons and Slater Koekkoek are quality players that could fall to the Avs but more than likely will be gone before the Avs 2nd round draft pick. Of course there are other players that fans think their teams should draft. How many fans went nuts when the Avs drafted Ryan O'Reilly? Or better yet, Hishon? The Avs have shown a willingness to go "off the board" (consensus draft lists) and pick players they feel fit what they are looking for. With a draft full of project players will the Avs go for the more rounded safer role players or try for the riskier higher end prospects that will need time and development to overcome obstacles and become viable NHLers? Which ever way they go, they are sure to surprise a few with their picks.
Below is a list of players (tied to the OHL, WHL and QMJHL) to watch out for based on where the Avs currently pick in the 7 rounds (5 picks total). The saying that you should get your forwards from the O, your defensemen from the W and your goalies from the Q is still something the Avs somewhat hold to in most drafts. Unfortunately this is not like most drafts so I have compiled a list of players for each league. For the most part, I have not included import players (to the CHL) as after the earlier picks, they are all over the board and not someone the Avs usually target in the later rounds. I have picked 3 players from each league (NOT listed in any specific order) to highlight players the Avs will be eyeing. In addition, I have included "under the radar" players (alphabetically) that may be of interest to the Avs with their picks in the 5th, 6th and 7th round.
Scott Laughton (F)
Similar situation fellow teammate Boone Jenner was in last year but a little more down his team's depth chart. Highly regarded player coming into the OHL. Drafted two spots after Galchenyuk but hasn't yet broke out completely to be the offensive player he could be.
Jarrod Maidens (F)
Dominate player prior to junior who would have produced 25-30 goals if he had played full season. Could be a hidden gem as he had been playing down his team's depth chart and behind such players like Hishon so far in his OHL career.
Nick Ebert (D)
Considered a top 10 pick prior to this past season. Fast puck rushing D with excellent shot. His drop in production has seen his stock fall but was still the #4 point producer on his team. Plays a great physical style of hockey and could be a steal in rounds 2 or 3.
Forwards: Campagna, Machese, Marcantuoni
Defense: Finn, Graham, Gudbranson, Iafrate, Kea, McIvor, Pelch
Mike Winther (F)
Very young offensive wizard is all over the place but should find a home in the second round because of a weak forward group for this draft. Broke out offensively this season so will he be able to improve on his production? because of his age, next season will tell more of what he could be.
Dalton Thrower (D)
Siemens' teammate put up excellent numbers in his 3rd season. All around D who hits and could be a solid two-way NHLer. Has moved up the draft lists and could be a "reach" for a team because of what he could bring. Could turn pro in 2013.
Dominik Volek (F)
Solid offensive potential and a possible choice for later in the draft. Might be more of an overseas professional than a North American one.
Forwards: Hodges, Olsen, Richardson, Siwak
Defense: Gaudet, Walters
Raphael Bussieres (F)
Solid numbers and very good player on an older Drakkar squad. Doesn't mind laying on big hits or stepping up offensively when needed. Could go anywhere from 1st to 3rd round.
Charles Hudon (F)
Hishon sized offensive dynamo. Competitive and makes those around him better. A point per game player so far in his Q career. Has had similar production to the larger Latendresse over the years leading up to being drafted.
Martin Frk (F)
Once a top 10 prospect for 2012 draft. Could have scored 35-40 goals if not for injuries. Character? Compete? Questions will surround him until he proves everyone wrong. One of only a few forward prospects in this draft to produce 20 goals (22g 50p) prior to their draft year.
Forwards: Beauvillier, Burke, Ciampini
Defense: Fournier, Hache, Hardie, Poulin
Take those 30+ players and mix in some possible US and overseas players (Di Giuseppe, Matheson, Schmaltz, etc) and you would have a good list of players that could be available from pick 41 and on that the Avs may have their eyes on and so should you.