I would like to thank our friends over at Raw Charge for coming up with this idea and letting us piggyback on it.
What if we could take a mulligan on a Colorado Avalanche draft, and re-do the picks the team made? Maybe the team isn’t where it is now. Maybe some of it’s future draft picks don’t get made because the team ended up being better and got worse picks in future drafts. Maybe Patrick Roy is still around if he didn’t totally botch so many drafts. There are lots of trickle down effects that could happen in such a case. But it’s still fun to ask “What if?”
Today, I’ll be looking at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft with a little hindsight. The Avalanche made five draft picks after trading away their first and fourth rounder. The Avs trade away their first round pick a year earlier. The pick went to Washington in exchange for Semyon Varlamov. It’s a trade that doesn’t look bad at first glance, but it stings a little when you remember that the pick was 11th overall and turned into Filip Forsberg.
This was an incredibly woeful draft for the team. The Avalanche got a grand total of zero games played out of the five players selected. Joseph Blandisi - the 6th round selection - has had a cup of coffee with New Jersey and Anaheim, but he’s only at 74 games played
This entire draft class it likely a bit of an embarrassment for the scouts involved.
Here are the rules for the re-draft set out by Geo at Raw Charge:
The rules for this Mulligan are that I can only select a player that was drafted within the next 20 draft picks after Colorado’s selection. This is to give some reality to the possibility of having made the “right” pick according to who was available and who might have been on the draft board at the time. That means that I can’t turn a bust of a first round pick into a super star long shot seventh rounder. Any trades that were made at the draft, including trading draft picks away, can be undone if there is no player worthy of the pick the team traded for, or if there is a star player the team could have selected instead of trading away the pick.
Now with the rules out of the way, let’s get to the fun part!
All NHL career stats are as of November 1, 2018.
Second Round, 11th Pick, 41st Overall
Original Pick: Mitchell Heard - F - 0 NHL games played.
New Pick: Chris Tierney (originally drafted 55th) - C - 295 GP, 43 goals, 72 assists, 115 points.
Other Options: Colton Sissons, Damon Severson, Jordan Martinook
Really any pick would have been better than Mitchell Heard. The former Plymouth Whaler was in his second year of draft eligibility when he put up a point per game playing on a line with Tom Wilson and J.T. Miller. He was a halfway decent player on the second line of a deep OHL team, but it’s his 111 PIMs that stand out. Heard never had a ton of offensive talent, but he played a gritty style that old school scouts love. These are the kinds of overage players you take a flier on in later rounds, unfortunately the Avs spent their first pick on him.
Selected 14 picks later was Chris Tierney - a skilled center that was playing in the same conference as Heard. He only had 34 points that season, but most of that is due to Tierney playing way down in the lineup on a very deep London Knights team. With guys like Andreas Athanasiou, Vladislav Namestnikov, Max Domi and Seth Griffith playing ahead of him, Tierney didn’t get a lot of top-six or powerplay time. What he did have was a versatile skill set that was easily transferable to the NHL.
It’s hard to understand how a scout watching the OHL’s Western Conference that season would suggest drafting Heard over Tierney.
Third Round, 11th Pick, 72nd Overall
Original Pick: Troy Bourke - LW - 0 NHL Games
New Pick: Shayne Gostisbehere (originally drafted 78th) - LD - 232 GP, 38 goals, 117 assists, 155 points.
Other Options: Colton Parayko, Matt Murray, Frederik Andersen
This is a really tough one. Those are four really good players drafted in the third round. Since the Avalanche had traded their first rounder for Varly, that instantly ruled out Murray and Andersen, even though they are far-and-away better than the two defensemen whom you really can’t go wrong with either.
I chose to draft the Ghost Bear because I think the way he plays the game fits really well with the way the Avs like to play. His elite skating and puck moving ability would fit in perfectly with the way Nathan MacKinnon and the top line dominates the game. He and Girard with Barrie and Johnson would be amazing.
Fifth Round, 11th Pick, 132nd Overall
Original Pick: Michael Clarke - C - 0 NHL games played
New Pick: Alexander Kerfoot (originally drafted 150th) - F - 91 GP, 20 goals, 29 assists, 49 points.
Other Options: Colin Miller, Ben Hutton, Connor Carrick
This one is easy.
Another pick by the Avalanche that never came close to the NHL. During his draft year, Michael Clarke had more than twice as many penalty minutes as he did points - I see a common theme here. He was a gritty forward that had a pretty low ceiling.
On the flip side, Alex Kerfoot was a young kid lighting up the BCHL. Unfortunately he was tiny for an 18-year-old. In contrast to Clarke, he is exactly the kind of boom or bust gamble you want to be taking as the draft moves into the later rounds.
Kerfoot spend four years learning and growing at Harvard before signing with the Avalanche last summer. This one turned out well after all.
Sixth Round, 11th Pick, 162nd Overall
Original Pick: Joseph Blandisi - C- 74 GP, 8 goals, 18 assists, 26 points.
New Pick: Vinny Hinostroza (originally drafted 169th) - F - 117 GP, 16 goals, 29 assists, 45 points.
Other Options: Linus Ullmark, Matt Benning
At least Blandisi made it to the NHL — it just wasn’t with the Avs. The sixth-round pick of the Avalanche was another small kid who needed a long post-draft career to develop. He was able to grow from 31 points in his draft year to 112 points in his final OHL season. Unfortunately, the Avalanche hadn’t offered him a contract and Blandisi was able to sign with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent.
After a good rookie season, Blandisi has been up and down between the NHL and the AHL for the past few years. He wasn’t a terrible pick for a 6th rounder, but the team would have done better with Hinostroza.
Another undersized forward, Hinostroza was a late bloomer that signed with the Blackhawks after a great sophomore season at Notre Dame. This past summer he was traded to Arizona where he is currently filling in as a speedy middle-6 winger.
Seventh Round, 11th Pick, 192nd Overall
Original Pick: Colin Smith - C - 1 GP, 0 points.
New Pick: Christian Djoos (originally drafted 195th) - D - 73 GP, 3 goals, 13 assists, 16 points.
Other Options: Joakim Ryan
Let the Djoos loose!
Christian Djoos won a Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Washington Capitals last season. As a 24-year-old, he is now establishing himself as a solid part of the teams blueline, and is a guy who is going to be hanging around NHL’s bottom-4 pairings for a long while. That’s pretty amazing for a guy that was drafted late in the 7th round.