The Colorado Avalanche roster has a great many needs.
Although that’s generally an undesirable situation, come draft time, fans of such a team will be hard-pressed to find fault in the reasoning of selecting a player of any particular position. When you need both forwards and defensemen in a bad way, adding a top talent of any kind to the system isn’t likely to warrant major complaints.
After April 29th’s devastating draft lottery result, where general manager Joe Sakic saw his league-worst club fall all the way to fourth in the order results, the Burgundy & Blue faithful resigned themselves to selecting whatever was leftover after New Jersey, Philadelphia and Dallas picks. That almost certainly meant losing out on the consensus Top-2 forward talents, Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier. It also likely meant missing out on the top defensive prospect in the draft, Finnish blue liner Miro Heiskanen, as the Dallas Stars have also long been identified as defense-needy roster.
Only that’s not the way it turned out.
The Draft Board
Our compadres at Defending Big D opted to pick Casey Mittelstadt, the American center from from the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, whom many anticipate to go pretty high in the draft, but maybe not quite that high. This was quite a coup for the Brain Trust here at Mile High Hockey. Sure, we were still missing out on Patrick and Hischier, but we now had the opportunity to choose from all of our favorite remaining players.
- Would we pick right wing Owen Tippett with his explosive skating ability and amazing shot?
- Perhaps the fast-rising center Gabriel Vilardi, quickly becoming known for his wonderful hands and elite hockey sense?
- Or would it be the talented Finnish defenseman, Heiskanen, that Dallas just passed up in lieu of adding to their already considerable forward talent?
We liked each of these players—and like I said earlier, the Avalanche system could use all of them. A choice had to be made. Ultimately, it was decided, despite improvements made in the last year, the team could most benefit from a top blue-line talent like Heiskanen. A left-handed shooter like many of our other defensive prospects, sure, but one that’s been playing the right side. He doesn’t have gaudy offensive numbers or an intimidating shot, but he has room to grow in these areas and already possesses a well-rounded game and ice awareness this roster badly needs.
Heiskanen also had another thing going for him: he’s been playing in the top professional Finnish league, which has been turning out some of the most exciting prospects in the NHL in recent years, including our own Mikko Rantanen. Unlike his Canadian CHL contemporaries, he’s been developing his game against professional men and navigating a professional practice and travel schedule. Considering that Heiskanen is already on the young side of this draft (he doesn’t turn 18 until July 18th), he’s really ahead of the curve in a number of important areas.
His path would also allow him to play in the AHL next season and fast-track his way onto the NHL roster, just like his fellow Fin, Rantanen. For an Avalanche team that needs to properly develop players withing its system as badly as it needs immediate talent infusion, the possibility of another top European skater is too good to pass up.
So what’s the big deal about of Miro Heiskanen? Let’s get the run-down from some great sources from around SBNation.
“Heiskanen seems to have the potential to turn into a reliable top 4 defensemen that can play in all situations and do it well. He may even have the potential to be a #1 down the road. The tools are certainly there, he just needs to keep getting stronger and rounding out his game.”
“In 30 games last season for HIFK U20, Heiskanen only had 6 penalty minutes. The year before for HIFK U18, he had eight penalty minutes in 35 games. To add even more perspective to his lack of penalties, in 51 games of international play with Team Finland, he has exactly two penalty minutes.”
So clearly, according to the logic of a certain hockey beat writer, he’s way too soft to be a good NHLer! Forget we ever said anything!
Considering the players taken, did we make the right choice?
This poll is closed
No way—should have gone forward.
Should have traded back for value.