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Back to the Future Part II - Avalanche Draft Preview cont'd...

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Today we continue our premature preview of the upcoming June draft. On Monday we took a look at the quality Defense and Goalies that may be available for the Avs' choosing in the first round. Next up: FORWARDS. Again, the Avs should finish somewhere between 10th and 15th in the standings (I hope, I hope), meaning they should land their first round pick somewhere between 15th and 20th. Here's a look at the projected forwards in that range. And remember, as the above photo reminds us: you never know what the future will bring. It may be scary, it may be confusing and stupid, but one thing is certain - it will be brought to you be Nike.

The Avs have some depth down the middle at Center, and at Right Wing, but could use a true blue Left Wing like Ke$ha could use a backhand slap upside her nappy dyed head, but I digress.....blah, blah, blah.

John Mcfarland

Left Wing/Center

Sudbury (OHL)

Country: Canada, Ontario

Height: 6' Weight: 192 lbs Birthday: 04/02/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: He already owns NHL caliber speed and shot, but lacks strong hockey sense and positional play. But he is a threat offensively and is improving defensively. He was once as highly touted as John Tavares and applied for "exceptional" status within the OHL, but has fallen off significantly since his Midget days. He will either be a first round steal or bomb. No middle ground for young Mcfarland. Too much potential.

Nino Niederreiter

Left Wing/Right Wing

Portland WinterHawks (WHL)

Country: Switzerland

Height: 6' 2" Weight: 203 lbs Birthday: 09/08/1992 Shoots: Left

Scouting Report: Dominated at World Juniors, plays both ends of the ice very well, strong backchecker, legitimate power forward (first true Swiss power forward in NHL), and is a proven goal scorer. Sounds like a perfect fit for the Avs and Joe Sacco's system/style. He has excelled in big games and would prove a versatile addition to the skilled youth movement in Denver.

Nick Bjugstad

Center

Blaine High School

Country: United States, Minnesota

Height: 6'4" Weight: 188 lbs Birthday: 07/17/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: Minnesota's high school prodigy possesses all the skill, speed, and size (he'll fill out that lanky frame) to be an impact player in the NHL. He can single handedly break down an opposing team's defense with his playmaking ability. He was named 2010 Mr. Hockey and has committed to the University of Minnesota for next year. The Wild may snag the homegrown forward as they will be several spots ahead of the Avs. Besides, high school players are worrisome to me, this isn't the NBA.

Mikael Granlund

Forward

HIFK (Finland)

Country: Finland, Oulu

Height: 5'10" Weight: 180 lbs Birthday: 02/26/1992 Shoots: Left

Scouting Report: The top ranked European Skater at the mid-term rankings, Granlund is pure skill. He gets knocked for his stature, but he is blessed with soft hands, good vision on the ice, and creative playmaking skills. He is also a competitor and excels on face-offs. He very easily could go in the top ten. If he is still available when the Avs pick, they can't miss with Granlund.

Kirill Kabanov

Left Wing

Moncton (QMJHL)

Country: Russia, Mocsow

Height: 6'2" Weight: 172 lbs Birthday: 07/16/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: Hampered by injuries and a bout to leave the KHL for Moncton, Kirill's stock has fallen hard this year. He would be an excellent pick up for the Avs in the second half of the first round though with his right handed shot on the Left Wing - the Avs need a true winger, especially on the left side. They say he takes too many bad penalties and is over-emotional, but he is the best Russian to come along in a few years and would be something the Avs currently have nothing like. He is also Avalanche prospect Kelsey Tessier's teammate in Moncton. I believe natural maturity and Sacco's coaching would quell the stormy spots for this kid and he'd blossom nicely alongside the other Young Guns.

Emerson Etem

Right Wing

Medicine Hat (WHL)

Country: United States, California

Height: 6' Weight: 190 lbs Birthday: 06/16/1992 Shoots: Left

Scouting Report: Sniper. This kid has seen his stock rise this year as he lit up the WHL with his goal scoring expertise. He can score anywhere on the ice. He has skill and can skate - even if he does so unorthodoxically. He is originally from Long Beach, so most predictions have him going to Anaheim who should hold two picks in the top 15. His goal scoring ability reminds of Chris Stewart this year (scoring all types of goals), but I'm not sure he fits in with the Avs current roster needs.

Ryan Johansen

Center

Portland (WHL)

Country: Canada, Vancouver, B.C.

Height: 6'2" Weight: 192 lbs Birthday: 07/31/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: Ryan's stock has risen significantly in the last year-and-a-half and he could surprise people how high he may draft. He is a big cat and a deft playmaker. Ryan brings with him a lot of upside as all indications are his best is yet to come. Seems like a sure bet if he's available late in the first round, but do the Avs really need another Center?

Stanislav Galiev

Right Wing

Saint John (QMJHL)

Country: Russia, Moscow

Height: 6'1" Weight: 178 lbs Birthday: 1/17/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: A hard worker whose numbers aren't as good as his skill would indicate. He is tough to defend due to his unpredictable playmaking and vision. He would be a bit of a "let's cross our fingers" in terms of the ceiling for his potential. He has been playing in North America for some time and seems comfortable with the style of play and the culture. However, I'm not sure the Avs will be willing to gamble on Stan.

Austin Watson

Left Wing

Peterborough (OHL)

Country: United States, Michigan

Height: 6'3" Weight: 185 lbs Birthday: 01/13/1992 Shoots: Right

Scouting Report: A big kid who is still growing, Watson would fit in nicely with Sacco's core of strong two-way players. Watson is an effective penalty-killer, but has been slowed down offensively by minor injuries and limited ice time, and so hasn't been able to string together a consistent workload. A great sign is that he scored 20 points in 10 games once he got finally first line minutes with Peterborough. Austin can play center or wing, and is a talented shot blocker and forechecker. Would be a great fit for Avs.

Not that anyone asked, but I'd like to see the Avs take a sure bet on a winger. That being said, I think Nino Niederreiter, Kirill Kabanov, or Austin Watson would offer all kinds of reasons to get giddy over the Avs continued burgeoning future - and are realistic options assuming the Avalanche finish where they look to be headed in the standings. Colorado desperately needs a top six left wing, but may not want to wait for one of these kids. If they don't draft one, look for them to add a gritty defenseman in his stead on draft day.

Hope you enjoyed the preview!

(Central Scouting's Final rankings are due to be announced in the coming weeks. They meet this Sunday to begin the final deliberations)