ST PAUL, MN - JUNE 24: Second overall pick Gabriel Landeskog by the Colorado Avalanche (C) stands on the podium with members of the Colorado Avalanche organization for a photo during day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft starts this evening, and while the Colorado Avalanche head to the festivities without a first round pick, who knows, perhaps when looking back five years from now, they may have found a gem or two. The Avs scouts will have their work cut out for them, the club currently holds just five draft picks. Yet, with all the trade rumors swirling, who knows how things will pan out; as 30 clubs look to stock their cupboards this weekend in Pittsburgh.
Before looking ahead, let's take a look back one year ago, when the Avs held the second overall pick and opted to take a Swede, who was applying his trade in the Ontario Hockey League.
Gabriel Landeskog, 2nd overall
Third in team scoring, tied for first league wide in points amongst rookies, and a shiny new trophy to boot. Short of making the playoffs, it was a pretty good year for Gabriel Landeskog. He cemented himself as a fan favorite and even helped to usher in a new meme...Landeskoging. No doubt the Avs have a winner in Landeskog.
Duncan Siemens, 11th overall
The 2011-12 season was one of many adjustments for Duncan Siemens. Most notably, the added responsibility of being named captain of the Saskatoon Blades (WHL). His offensive numbers dropped from his draft year and he did sit out a few games due to a concussion. Another season with the Blades is likely on the table and with his club hosting the 2013 Memorial Cup, it will be a significant opportunity.
Joachim Nermark, 93rd overall
A team that normally refrains from drafting European players, the Avs took a chance on another Swede in the middle rounds. Nermark didn't have monumental success overseas; struggling in the Swedish Elite League (SEL) with Linköping this past season. Yet, he found his scoring touch in Sweden's high level junior league (J20 SuperElit). Next season, a longer more fruitful stint in the SEL would be a huge step forward.
Garrett Meurs, 123rd overall
A 13 point improvement from his draft year certainly caught some attention. Perhaps the most disappointing was a shoulder injury at the end of the regular season that prevented Garrett Meurs from participating in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs for the Plymouth Whalers. Another year with the Whalers is on tap, but Meurs may have the makings of being a late round gem for the Avs.
Gabriel Beaupre, 153rd overall
Offense isn't the name of Gabriel Beaupre's game. The rugged defenseman had 102 penalty minutes for a Val-d'Or team that finished in the middle of the pack and had a quick exit from the playoffs. Beaupre will return to the Foreurs, but is not likely in the long term plans for the Avalanche.
Dillon Donnelly, 183rd overall
Much like Beaupre, Dillon Donnelly's long term prospects with the Avalanche are dim. His 11 fighting majors show his toughness, but skill is in question. Yet, at least for this past season he can celebrate. The Shawinigan Cataractes won the 2012 Memorial Cup as the host team.
Looking towards the 2012 draft, the Avs will likely be quiet tonight barring any surprises. Therefore, Avalanche fans will have to wait until Saturday morning until the team makes its first selection.
Round 2 - 41st overall
Round 3 - 72nd overall
Round 5 - 132nd overall
Round 6 - 162nd overall
Round 7 - 192nd overall
The fact that the Avalanche do not have a full-time goaltending coach is the butt of jokes for many Colorado fans. Yet, it's something the organization needs to take seriously with four young goaltenders (Sami Aittokallio, Kieran Millan, Kent Patterson and Calvin Pickard) under contract on the farm and a young starting goalie on the big club. The Avs should be commended for finding some talented netminders, but now they need to bring in the proper personnel in order to develop them.
In addition to goaltending, the Avalanche have a nice collection of defensive prospects. They have offensive talents in Stefan Elliott and Tyson Barrie and more rugged defenders in Cameron Gaunce and Duncan Siemens.
While the Avalanche have some solid depth forwards, they lack goal scorers. Michael Sgarbossa and Joey Hishon could fit the bill, but questions linger as to whether Sgarbossa can adjust to the pro game. Also, can Hishon be the player he was before after missing more than a year of hockey? It will be tough for the Avs to address this area considering where they are drafting. Their scouts will need to be very shrewd.
Opinions on the quality of the 2012 draft vary significantly. The Avs value skill and high character players. While they ignored drafting college or college bound players last season, it's likely a pick or two will come from the college ranks. The Avs claim to draft best player available. So despite glaring needs within the organization, and with the players they select not likely to make an impact for at least 2-3 years, the focus will be on character.
Friday -- Round One -- 5:00 PM MST
NBC Sports Network (US)
Saturday -- Remaining Rounds -- 8:00 AM MST
NHL Network (US/Canada)