I posted a previous look at a few players of interest to the Avs in follow-up to a Denver Post piece. The post also detailed a few players that may be of interest that fell in the 15-35 range. What I didn't do (but did do last year) was take a look at the Avs and Pracey's tendencies when it came to drafting. It is easy to throw together a few good players from a wide range of leagues to compile a fun "draft list" but who could the Avs really be looking at using a 23rd overall pick on?
The 2013 draft went against the "norm" for the Avs when it came to higher picks but for good reason. Last year saw a very strong group of D and also of players from the QMJHL. In the draft, the Avs looked to be targeting specific types of players with their picks. Pracey mentioned this in regards to his later picks but it looked to be true across the board. Which is not a bad idea when you look at players that went 31-70 (in range of Avs 2nd/3rd round picks) and realize that 20 of them were either D or goalies. Compared to the 1st round that saw only 9 D (no goalies) get drafted in a very strong draft class of D's.
Since Pracey took over in 2009, 10 players have been drafted in the first 2 rounds. 1 from the Q (hello Mac!), 3 from the W and 6 from the O. ZERO from any other league. In that same group: 1 goalie, 3 D and 6 forwards. EVERY single pick also had at least 2 full years in their league prior to being drafted. Something many probably shrug off but to have 2-3 years in a league to pull from is a big deal. Also ALL 6 forwards drafted had a very good full first season where they put up at least a .73 PPG pace.
The 2014 draft sees the Avs with the 23rd overall pick. I have listed the players that have made a lot of the draft lists in the 15-40 range for the 2014 draft. This gives the Avs a nice group to possibly pull from and apply their "draft tendencies" too. Just looking at the Avs players drafted with a top 40 pick (since 2009) you get 5 forwards and 2 D (5 OHLers/1 Q/ 1 W). Clearly a forward is likely favored with the 23rd overall pick even more so with this draft being incredibly weak in quality D & Gs.
Here are the players in the CHL that have made a lot of the 15-40 lists:
FORWARDS: Scherbak, Fabbri, Barbashev, Ho-Sang, Bleackley, Pollock, Goldobin, Quenneville, Lemieux, Cornel, Point, MacInnis, Watson
DEFENSE: Honka, Sanheim, McKeown, DeAngelo
If you were to filter this list to players who have played at least 2 CHL seasons and forwards who produced at a .73 PPG pace or better, you would have a very small list. For fun lets just say that a lot of these kids had to play against the stud Ds from 2013's draft for the past 2 seasons. To account for that we will expand the list to include forwards* that had a .65 PPG or better pace their 1st full CHL season.
The list with these factors:
FORWARDS: Barbashev (Q), Goldobin (O), Point (W), Watson*(O), Ho-Sang*(O)
DEFENSE: McKeown (O), DeAngelo (O)
That is a tiny list if you are looking at trying to find high end players in the late first in a weaker draft (outside the top 15). Interesting enough, DeAngelo's 2012-2013 season (most player's first CHL season) saw him produce at a .94 PPG ON DEFENSE which puts him just behind Goldobin (a forward) as the best PPG of the group. Speaking of those two (Gold and DeA), they along with Point put up big numbers this season to be some of the top scorers in their leagues despite little to no scoring support from their teams. Of course there are players like Lemieux, Bleackley, Scherbak, Sanheim, Honka, etc. who project as top 9 forwards (Lemieux/Bleackley) or do not have a large body of work in the CHL to pull from making them a riskier pursuit with a higher pick.
Just looking over the options that the Avs have at 23rd and you are looking at a lot of projects or a need to go riskier or non-NA. Something the Avs don't really do with a higher pick. Perhaps it may be best to move back in the draft (due to similar CHL talent throughout) or to move the pick in a trade if the Avs do not wish to go that route. They could easily draft a solid top 9 forward prospect (if they move back) or something of value in a trade (hello Buffalo!). With that said, this is the perfect draft to go with a riskier player (who has big time potential but needs work. ex:DeAngelo) or is Russian. If not the Avs' style, McKeown may be the best target at #23.
What happens if you were to focus on taking a forward with a pick (outside the top 3) in the first and/or second round and made the parameters that the forward had to be drafted from either the OHL or WHL, have at least 2 full CHL seasons and have produced at around a .65 PPG or better pace their first full CHL season... and applied this to the 2008 & 2009 draft (pre-Pracey and post Pracey and enough years to gauge):
2009 NHLers that hit on the criteria: Tavares, Duchene, Kane, Schenn, Kadri, O'Reilly, Cizikas
2009 Hit on criteria but have not made it: Glennie, Varone
2009 biggest forward misses: Kreider, Johansson, Palmieri, Tatar, Kassian
2009 Top 60 forward BUSTS that do not fit criteria: 17 TOTAL out of 25 non-criteria Forwards drafted.
2008 NHLers that hit on the criteria: Stamkos, Hodgson, Eberle, Ennis, Henrique
2008 Hit on criteria but have not made it: Beach, Boychuk, Wahl
2008 biggest forward misses: Stepan, Hayes, Atkinson, Wilson, Boedker
2008: Top 60 forward BUSTS that do not fit criteria: 18 TOTAL out of 30 Forwards drafted
Just by just sticking to the strict parameters of 2-3 years in the OHL/WHL and around a .65 PPG first full CHL year you can basically eliminate around HALF of the potential forward "misses" that happened in these 2 drafts top 60 players. Add Pracey's focus on skill/character/compete and the potential busts fitting the parameters comes down to about 1 or 2 players. Sure you have some misses (when sticking to OHL/WHL) with guys like Stepan and Kreider but you also have the chance to nab guys like O'Reilly, Cizikas, Eberle, Ennis and Henrique with pics outside the top 20. After you make your first and second round picks you can go all over the place but with the earlier picks and the opportunity to add a quality forward it is hard to pass on this approach.