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With The 3rd Pick, The Colorado Avalanche Select...

No big surprise here. In the SBN Mock Draft, the Islanders selected John Tavares with the first overall pick and Tampa Bay selected Victor Hedman at #2. In my opinion, taking Matt Duchene at #3 was a no-brainer. He projects to be a speedy, playmaking two-way center and the Avalanche desperately need an infusion of top 6 talent. I'm not sure if he steps in right away or spends another season in the OHL, but he'll be in Denver before too long, hopefully forming a devastating 1-2 punch with Paul Stastny up the middle for many, many years to come. In fact, here's John-Eric Iannicello wrote about Duchene - I actually just typed "Stastny" there by mistake -  in yesterday's Hockey's Future Avalanche Draft Preview:

With the third overall selection, the Avalanche are in a prime position to be drafting a future great in Matt Duchene.  Duchene displays great skill on the ice and great character off it.  With dynamic speed and strong two-way ability, Duchene is able to play in all key situations and is a threat every time he steps onto the ice.  He has a great set of offensive skills both in scoring and playmaking.  He has strong balance which makes him hard to knock off the puck.  He’s the ideal pick at the third selection and, should he develop, will be a great one-two punch with Stastny.

I find it kind of interesting how MHH readers have changed their opinions as we've gotten closer to the draft. Yesterday, I asked who you would pick, regardless of who you thought would be available. The results (as of this writing):

  1. Duchene - 59%
  2. Tavares - 22%
  3. Hedman - 18%

That's quite a change from the poll we ran right before the lottery:

  1. Tavares - 47%
  2. Duchene - 23%
  3. Hedman - 19%
  4. Kane - 4%
  5. MPS - 3%
  6. Cowen - 0%

Curiously, Hedman has stayed pretty much at the same spot, but Duchene and Tavares have flip-flopped almost completely. Is that because of the reports that Duchene's stock is rising slightly while Tavares' has slipped a bit? Or, are we selling ourselves on Duchene because we know that's who we'll end up with? I suspect it's probably more of the latter than the former, but I don't really know.

If you're into the mock draft thing, I did a little write-up for Cycle Like The Sedins for their mock draft (links for the other selections are on the right). Believe it or not, I still had some snark left in the tank after that, so I contributed to another mock draft preview for View From My Seats. That one won't be up until tomorrow.