With most NHL teams currently in offseason mode, it’s the time of the year everyone is discussing the future. Who is your team going to draft? What free agents will your team sign? It’s exciting for fans to contemplate what the future holds. I’m going to take this time to take a look back into the past. Here is my list of the top five drafts in Colorado Avalanche history. This list is made up of only Avalanche drafts and does not include any Quebec Nordiques drafts.
5. The 2005 Draft
In 2005, the Colorado Avalanche did not pick in the first round of the draft. Instead, they traded their first round pick (27th Overall) to the Washington Capitals in exchange for two second round picks (47th and 52nd Overall). This gave the Avalanche four picks in the second round, with the 44th overall pick coming their way in a 2004 trade with the Phoenix Coyotes.
With their original pick in the second round (34th Overall) the Avalanche selected Ryan Stoa from the U.S. National Team Development Program. Stoa went on to play four years at the University of Minnesota before playing only 41 games in the NHL, 38 for the Avalanche.
With the 44th pick that the team received from Phoenix, the Avalanche selected Paul Stastny out of the University of Denver. Stastny went on to play in 560 games for Colorado, scoring 476 points in that span before signing with the St. Louis Blues as free agent on July 1, 2014.
Out of Ohio State University, Tom Fritsche was selected 47th overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft. At number 52, Chris Durand was selected from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Neither player would play a game in the NHL.
In the third round, the Avalanche selected T.J. Hensick from the University of Michigan. Hensick would play 101 career games with the Avalanche over three seasons, scoring 36 points in that span.
The fourth round pick for the Avalanche in 2005 was Ray Macias from the Kamloops Blazers. Macias only played eight games in the NHL, all with the Avalanche.
With two picks in the sixth round, Jason Lynch was picked 166th overall from the Spokane Chiefs while Justin Mercier was picked 168th out of the USNTDP. Mercier appeared in only nine NHL games in his career, while Lynch never made it to the big league.
Kyle Cumiskey of the Kelowna Rockets was the last player picked by the Avalanche in 2005. Behind Paul Stastny, Cumiskey was easily the best player selected by Colorado in this draft. The defenseman played 138 games in an Avalanche sweater, scoring 37 points.
Without Paul Stastny, the 2005 NHL draft would have been a lot less memorable for the Avalanche.
4. The 2013 Draft
In 2013, the Colorado Avalanche picked first overall for the first time since 1991, when the franchise was known as the Quebec Nordiques and picked Eric Lindros number one. Since the focus here is only on the Colorado Avalanche, we won’t include all those number one picks that Quebec had. Instead the fourth spot on my list will go to Nathan MacKinnon and the 2013 draft.
Selected first overall, Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t really need an introduction to Avalanche fans. He’s the current face of the franchise and has already amassed 319 points in only 387 games. The 2017-18 season saw MacKinnon reach a career high in points (97) as he was named a finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
In the second round, 32nd overall, the Avalanche selected defenseman Chris Bigras from the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL. Bigras scored four points in 46 games for Colorado. He was traded to the New York Rangers at the 2018 trade deadline for defenseman Ryan Graves.
With the 63rd overall pick in 2013, Colorado selected Mississauga Steelheads goaltender Spencer Martin. Martin has only appeared in three games in the NHL and hasn’t necessarily been turning heads. While he is a solid minor league goalie, don’t expect him to be the Avalanche goalie in the future.
The Avalanche used their fourth round pick on Mason Geertsen, a defenseman from the Vancouver Giants. Geertsen has yet to dress for an NHL game and he spent the last four seasons splitting time between the ECHL and the AHL.
In the fifth round, Will Butcher was selected from the USNTDP. The talented defenseman then played four years for the University of Denver, before deciding to become a free agent instead of signing with the Avalanche. He chose the New Jersey Devils and scored 44 points in 81 games during his rookie season.
The sixth round pick, Ben Storm, and the seventh round pick, Wilhelm Westlund, have not played a game in the NHL to date.
Similar to the 2005 draft, the 2013 draft was noticeably top heavy for the Avalanche. Without MacKinnon, this draft didn’t bring a whole lot to Colorado’s roster. Butcher turned out to be a solid fifth round pick, just not for the Avalanche.
3. The 2007 Draft
In the first round of the 2007 draft, the Avalanche selected defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk 14th overall. Shattenkirk would have a very promising rookie season with Colorado during the 2010-11 season, with 26 points in 46 games before being traded to the St. Louis Blues. Currently playing with the New York Rangers, he has amassed 355 points in 596 games.
With the 45th overall pick in the second round, the Avalanche picked another defenseman. Colby Cohen would be Kevin Shattenkirk’s college teammate at Boston University. He ended up only playing three career NHL games.
The Avalanche had three picks in the second round of the 2007 draft. The 49th overall pick was used to select goaltender Trevor Cann from the Peterborough Petes in the OHL. Cann has never appeared in the NHL and has had an unremarkable pro career split between the ECHL and AHL.
With their final pick in the second round, Colorado picked T.J. Galiardi 55th overall in 2007. Galiardi would appear in 177 games for the Avalanche, scoring 74 points in that span. He played some solid seasons on a struggling Avalanche team for four years before being moved to San Jose at the trade deadline in 2012.
Brad Malone was selected 105th overall. After four years at the University of North Dakota, Malone appeared in 60 total games for the Avalanche, only putting up nine points.
With the 113th pick in 2007, Colorado selected their second goalie of the draft. Kent Patterson, like Trevor Cann, never saw any action at the NHL level. After four years at the University of Minnesota, Patterson has spent the majority of his career in the ECHL.
In the 5th round, the Avalanche picked center Paul Carey. While Carey put up solid minor league numbers throughout his time in the Avalanche system, he had only one point (an assist) in 25 games for the Avalanche. He currently plays with the New York Rangers.
Colorado’s sixth and seventh round picks, Jens Hellgren and Johan Alcen have never played an NHL game.
With a little more depth to this draft, Kevin Shattenkirk still stands out as the best player selected. Although his time in Colorado only lasted half a season, he still goes down as a solid first round pick.
2. The 2009 Draft
With the third overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Avalanche selected Matt Duchene. Duchene and the Avs seemed like a perfect fit. He was a high scoring forward who grew up a big Avalanche fan. Who can forget the picture showed during the draft of him in his childhood bedroom filled with Avalanche merchandise. Duchene scored 434 points for the Avalanche in 594 games before his highly publicized trade earlier last season.
In the second round, 33rd overall, Colorado selected Ryan O’Reilly, who made the team out of training camp as an 18 year old. O’Reilly played 440 games for the Avalanche over six seasons. He scored 253 points in that span while being a reliable penalty killer as well as a complete 200 foot player. He was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres on June 26, 2015 in a deal that included current Avalanche players Nikita Zadorov and J.T. Compher.
Also in the second round, 49th overall, the Avalanche selected defenseman Stefan Elliot from the Saskatoon Blades. Over parts of three seasons, Elliot scored 18 points in 63 games.
Colorado’s third round pick, 64th overall was defenseman Tyson Barrie. He has become the Avalanche’s top offensive defenseman, scoring 254 points in 415 games.
The next three picks, fifth round pick Kieran Milan, sixth round pick Brandon Maxwell and seventh round pick Gus Young never made the jump to the NHL level.
Colorado’s first four picks in the 2009 draft have played a combined 2635 NHL games, although Tyson Barrie is the only remaining member of this draft on the Avalanche roster.
1. The 1998 Draft
With four picks in the first round and three picks in the second, the 1998 draft for the Avalanche was hands down the best in the teams history.
With their first pick, 12th overall, Colorado selected Alex Tanguay from the Halifax Mooseheads. Tanguay would end up playing 680 games for the Avalanche, scoring 538 points. He is known for scoring two goals in Colorado’s game seven victory over the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup in 2001.
Martin Skoula was selected from the Barrie Colts with the 17th pick. The Czech defenseman played 451 games in an Avalanche jersey and scored 126 points. He was also a member of the 2001 Stanley Cup winning team.
With their third pick in the first round of the 1998 draft, the Avalanche picked Robyn Regehr from the Kamloops Blazers. The defenseman was dealt to the Calgary Flames for Theoren Fluery and Chris Dingman the next year. While he never played a game for the Avalanche, Regehr played over 1000 NHL games, the majority with the Flames.
The 20th overall pick was used on Scott Parker, who was first drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the third round of the 1996 draft. After failing to come to terms with the Devils, Parker re-entered the draft in 1998. Avalanche fans will remember Parker for being the teams enforcer through the early 2000’s. He ended up playing over 300 NHL games with the Avalanche and San Jose Sharks.
To start of the second round, Colorado selected Ramzi Abid out of the QMJHL. Abid did not receive a contract from the Avalanche and re-entered the 2000 draft and was eventually selected by the Phoenix Coyotes. He played 70 career games in the NHL.
With the 38th overall pick, the Avalanche selected goalie Philippe Sauve from the Rimouski Oceanic. Sauve spent some years in the minors before appearing in 17 games for Colorado in 2003-04. He was traded in August 2005 to the Calgary Flames.
The third and final second round pick for the Avalanche in 1998 was Steve Moore, taken 53rd overall. After finishing four years at Harvard University, Moore played parts of three seasons with the Avalanche before suffering a career ending injury from the now infamous Todd Bertuzzi incident.
Colorado’s final three picks in the 1998 draft - Evgeny Lazarev, K.C. Timmons and Alexander Riazantsev - never made NHL appearances.
With a combined 3686 NHL games played, the 1998 draft for the Colorado Avalanche goes down as the best in team history. Three players selected this year won a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 2001. No other draft even comes close.