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Dodging the Draft

What do Mark Parrish, Martin Skoula and Alex Tanguay have in common? The answer actually has nothing to do with defensive acumen (or lack thereof). Those three players are the 3 players drafted by the Avalanche to have played in at least 600 NHL games. Apparently, the draft is on us again, which always gets me, um, not-all-that-excited . So, once again I would like to take 5 minutes to foist my lazy and uninformed draft petards on you. Of course, I don't actually know what petards are, so I'm going to just assume they mean "fancy numbers."

The Avalanche have, as of this writing, 6 picks in Saturday's draft (the first round, held Friday night, is currently slated to be an off-night for the franchise thanks to the Adam Foote deal). Since the franchise moved to Denver, they have drafted 128 players. 50 of them (39%) have played at least one game in the NHL and 34 (27%) have played at least one game for the Avalanche (2005 draftees Paul Stastny and TJ Hensick are the most recent to join the club). If you apply those percentages to our 6 picks, only 1 or 2 players (1.6 to be exact) will ever don the ugly Avalanche unipron, and perhaps 1 other player will see the NHL with another team (2.3 should make the NHL at some point). Those that do make it to the big club will play, on average, 116 games for the Avalanche and 181 overall.

I broke down the Avs' draft history round by round to see if draft position is any indicator of future success (note that I'm only looking at drafts the Denver years).

1st Round (2,796 NHL games, 1,330 games for Colorado). The 13 players the Avalanche have taken in the 1st round represents 10% of their drafted players, but 30% of the 9,072 NHL games Avalanche draftees have played in the NHL. Martin Skoula tops the list with 643 NHL games, with Alex Tanguay - the highest drafted Avalanche player at 12th overall - is right behind with 609. Tanguay played 450 games in an Avalanche uniform, tops among Colorado draftees. In all, 10 players (77%) made it to the NHL (although Peter Rachunek, Mikhail Kuleshov and Jonas Johansson have just 36 NHL games between them). 7 players (53%) played at least one game for the Avs. Of the 3 players who have yet to play in the NHL, only 1997 draftee Kevin Grimes is certain to retain that status; the other two players are 2006's Chris Stewart and 2007's Kevin Shattenkirk - two guys who still have plenty of time. Standouts: Martin Skoula (643gp), Alex Tanguay (609), Robyn Regehr (591), Marc Denis (348), Scott Parker (308), Wojtek Wolski (162). Duds: Kevin Grimes (0), Jonas Johansson (1), Mikhail Kuleshov (3), Peter Ratchuk (32)

2nd Round (488 NHL, 367 COL) There's a big drop in the 2nd round. 40% of the players the Avalanche have taken in the 2nd round have played in the NHL, 27% for the Avs. In fact, this round has produced the least number of NHL games played of the 7 rounds. Standouts: Paul Stastny (148), Peter Budaj (126).

3rd Round (1,998 NHL, 364 COL) 8 of the 13 players taken in the 3rd round have played in the NHL (a nice 61%) but most have had most of their success with other organizations. Just 4 (31%) players have skated for the Avs, although two - Kurt Sauer and TJ Hensick, both 88th overall picks - are with the club still. Standouts: Mark Parrish (660), Branko Radivojevic (393), Ville Nieminen (385), Kurt Sauer (288), Rick Berry (197...really?).

4th Round (528 NHL, 92 COL) Just 3 guys - Brad Larsen, Tomi Kallo (who?) and Tom Gilbert - have made it to the NHL. That's 20% of the drafted players. Just one - Larsen - has skated for the Avs (7%). Standouts: Larsen (294), Kallo (140), Gilbert (94)

5th Round (833 NHL, 607 COL). This has been a good round traditionally for Colorado, with 37% making the NHL and 31% dressing for the Avs. Standounts: John-Michael Liles (313), Brent Johnson (226), Brad Richardson (136), Cody McCormick (135).

6th Round (648 NHL, 343 COL). 4 of the 16 players (25%) have made it to the NHL, and all have played for the Avs. Standouts: Brian Willsie (334), David Aebischer (214).

7th Round (1,628 NHL, 726 COL) In terms of NHL games played, this is the 3rd best round for the Avalanche, although two players - Sammy Pahlsson and Radim Vrbata have spent most of their time in other organizations. Based on past history, the player the Avalanche take in the 7th round this year has about a 43% chance of making it to the NHL and a 36% chance of playing for the Avs - pretty good odds. Standouts: Pahlsson (492), Dan Hinote (452), Vrbata (422), Marek Svatos (193), Kyle Cumiskey (47).

8th Round (126 NHL, 94 COL). Only Jeff Finger and Darryl Bootland have made the NHL from the 8th round of an Avalanche draft, and Bootland never played for the Avs. That works out to a 22% NHL success rate and an 11% Avalanche success rate. With the new collective bargaining agreement, drafts are just 7 rounds long now.

9th Round (27 NHL, 27 COL). David Jones was the 288th pick in the 2003 NHL draft. Only 1 guy has been taken later by the Avalanche - Sean Collins was the 289th pick the following year. Jones is the only 9th rounder of the 9 taken to make the NHL.

So, it looks like the Avalanche do best in the 1st, 3rd and 7th rounds and do terribly in the 2nd and 4th. Unfortunately, the Avalanche don't have a 1st or 3rd round pick in this draft. Based on past history, you can probably ignore those picks as well as the two 6th rounders. But pay close attention to the guys they take in the 5th and 7th - those are likely to be future Avs.