After the kind of season that the Colorado Avalanche had this past year, a good draft was absolutely necessary for the franchise - even after losing the lottery. After taking blue-chip defenders with their first two picks, the Avs made Nick Henry the first forward selected in their draft class with the 94th overall pick.
So what are the Avs getting with their pick at the top of the fourth round? Henry is a guy that can score, took advantage of playing with an elite center and a player that most thought would have been selected a round earlier than he was. Henry adds decent depth to the Avs prospect depth chart and he is definitely a gamble worth taking, but he’s a long way from being a sure fire NHLer.
As a WHL rookie last season, Henry put up some very impressive numbers. His 35 goals were good enough fo rank him third among draft eligible WHLers behind only Spokane teammates Kailer Yamamoto and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. On top of that, his 81 points in 72 games was a very impressive total for someone playing their first season of major junior hockey.
With a quick glance at his Elite Prospects page, Nick Henry looks like a guy that fell a little big on draft day - but with a closer look, you see a player that seems about fair value for the 94th overall pick.
Though he might have the numbers of a player who could have been drafted in the first two rounds, when you dig a little deeper, there are definitely some red flags. Thirty of his 81 points were scored on the powerplay, only 18 of his 46 assists were primary, and the vast majority of his point production came while playing alongside Anaheim Ducks prospect Sam Steel - who was arguably the best player in the WHL last season.
Nick Henry is a strong offensive winger, that has great instincts and the ability to play off of his center. He has good awareness and s able to read the play to put himself in a position to capitalize on scoring chances.
On the flip side, he isn’t the kind of player that will create his own offense all that often. He won’t dazzle with the puck in traffic, though he does have some finesse to his game that comes though if he’s given enough time and space.
He is a decent defensive player that battles well in his own end and picks up the slack better than you normally see from offensively minded wingers in junior hockey. He’s a decent skater, but can stand to work on his acceleration as he develops.
Henry is a guy that will get a lot of attention this coming season. His Regina Pats are going to be hosting the 100th Memorial Cup, and he will be a big part of what is likely to be the best team in the CHL.
The Avs lack a lot of forward depth in their prospect pool, so the development of Nick Henry is going to be interesting to watch. He’s a few years off, but there is a very good chance that he ends up having a bigger impact on the organization than you would normally expect from a fourth round draft pick.