The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL July 1st, 2013

Bruce Bennett

In case you didn't know there NHL Draft occurred yesterday. The Colorado Avalanche managed to surprise a number of people for sticking to their word and drafting Nathan MacKinnon first overall. This was the first time the Colorado Avalanche picked first overall, although the Quebec Nordiques did pick first three times and took Matts Sundin, Owen Nolan and Eric Lindros. MacKinnon is the third 17 year old to be drafted first overall since 1988. The other two men? Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton. He is also the first Halifax Moosehead to ever be picked first overall, and the first QMJHL player to be drafted first since Crosby in 2005. His favourite team for most of his childhood was the Colorado Avalanche, until Crosby came around. He was his favourite player so he cheered him on.

Part of what made MacKinnon so desirable to the Avs was the fact Roy had watched him so closely. As the coach and GM of the Quebec Remparts in the same junior league, he had a first row seat for many of the talented teen’s exploits.

"I blacked out a little bit, but he just said congratulations," MacKinnon said of the first words he heard from Roy. "He's very excited about this, like me.

"I'm pretty familiar with him," he added. "I know his systems pretty well, just from studying against him in the [2012] playoffs. I'm not sure if they're going to be the same or not, but I know his style. He's a very competitive guy, and his will to win is second to none, so I'm very excited to play for him."

With their second pick, they took Chris Bigras. The defenseman had 38 points and a +35 in 68 games for the Owen Sound Attack last season. He was named Owen Sound's Rookie of the Year and Scholastic Player of the Year.

Owen Sound Attack defenseman Chris Bigras was taken 32nd overall by the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday in the National Hockey League entry draft.

"You get the sense of relief (on hearing your name called) ... it's amazing," Bigras told the QMI Agency on Sunday.

"The pyramid keeps getting smallers as you go up and you have to keep working to get to the top because it is easy to get pushed off."

They took Spencer Martin with their third pick. (You can view the video of his press conference here). Martin is a goalie who was ranked number 5 by the NHL Central Scouting among North Amercian goalies. He posted a 17-21-0-4 record with a .906 save percentage and a 3.02 goals against average.

With their fourth pick they grabbed Mason Geertsen. Geertsen played in the WHL and split last season between two teams: the Edmonton Oil Kings and the Vancouver Giants.

Each day after school, Kathy and Mason would leave the farm about 3:30 p.m., allowing enough time to arrive an hour early for 6 p.m. practices in Leduc.

About 8 p.m., they'd start the return trip. Nights when the road was icy and snow was blowing and Kathy couldn't see past the headlights, the drive home took much longer.

"There were a couple of times I had to wake Mason up and say, 'OK, you've got to watch the ditch for me,' because you know how you get that bad feeling?" Kathy explains. "It was really dark.

With their fifth pick they took Will Butcher. (You can see his media interview here) Butcher netted 37 points in 67 games for the US National Under-18 Team. He will be playing in the Denver Pioneers jersey next season.

With their sixth pick they took Ben Storm. Storm is a hulking 6'6 defenseman. He played in 52 games for the lumberjacks this past season and had 12 points and 82 penalty minutes. He has verbally committed to play collegiate hockey at St. Cloud State University.

Storm, a 6-foot-6, 216-pound defenseman, was selected with the 153rd overall pick, the second of the sixth round.

Storm has committed to play college hockey at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University and played last season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League, where he had two goals and 10 assists in 52 games.

With their seventh, and final pick, they took Wilhelm Westlund of Sweden. He was rated 15th among international skaters by Central Scouting.

For those of you in the live thread, you'll know I had my fingers crossed for Kurt Etchegary, unfortunately he wasn't drafted by any NHL team. However, he has reportedly received an invitation to the Colorado Avalanche Summer Camp. (Thanks Prof)

However, the fact he wasn't chosen Sunday doesn't end Etchegary's pro chances. In fact, a number of reports Sunday night had Etchegary getting an invitation to the summer development camp of the Colorado Avalanche, whose new coach just happens to be Patrick Roy, who had been Etchegary's coach the last two years with the Remparts.

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