For the past few months, we have all been working under the assumption that the Colorado Avalanche will receive Ottawa’s first round pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. A move that would complete the trade that sent Matt Duchene to the Senators back in November. While that’s likely the case, Colorado’s front office isn’t ruling out the possibility that they will be drafting fourth overall at this year’s draft.
Speaking on a conference call yesterday, Colorado’s Director of Amateur Scouting Alan Hepple mentioned the possibility that they’ll have Ottawa’s first round pick next Friday. ”If they do hand it to us after they’re on the clock at number 4 then we’re ready — ready to go with that pick as well. So we got to be prepared.”
If it does happen, the Avalanche would be picking fourth overall for the second straight year, having selected defenseman Cale Makar at the 2018 draft.
With all the craziness that has been going on with the Senators this week, many are starting to believe that the best course of action is for Ottawa to finalize the transaction with the Avalanche and move on.
The roster Ottawa has today is really bad - and it only stand to get a lot worse. Trading away Erik Karlsson seems inevitable. Moving on from Mike Hoffman is as close to a certainty as you can get. There’s also the possibility that the team moves on from restricted free-agent Mark Stone as well, especially if he refuses to sign a long-term contract with the franchise.
The Senators are likely to be a terrible hockey team next season, making that first round pick next year incredibly valuable.
What makes the pick even more valuable is the fact that there are two superstar prospects at the top of the 2019 draft - both of whom would go first overall this year if they were eligible for the draft.
Jack Hughes has been called the most talented young hockey player since Connor McDavid. The 17-year old American center dominated at every level this season and is the presumptive No. 1 pick next June. Close behind him is Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko, a sniper that has already been playing professionally in Europe.
Next year’s draft is Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine all over again - except Hughes and Kakko are even better.
As tough as it is to give up a top-5 pick in this year’s draft, do the Senators want to take the risk of handing over the pick that ends up being one of those two superstars?
It’s a lose-lose situation for Pierre Dorion.
Luckily, it’s the exact opposite for the Avs. Whichever way the Senators play it, Joe Sakic is going to be excited. It’s another high-end asset for the Avalanche that makes the Matt Duchene trade look like one of the most lopsided in recent memory.
The possibility of another first round pick makes this year’s draft a little more exciting.
If they end up picking fourth next week, there are going to be a ton of options available to the Avalanche. Jack’s older brother Quinn Hughes is an elite puck mover that would instantly jump Makar as the team’s best defensive prospect. There‘s Oliver Wahlstrom, who is a highly-skilled offensive winger that fills the biggest hole in the team’s depth chart. Also, Brady Tkachuk would likely be available to bring an immediate impact to the Avalanche lineup. Whichever way they go, it would make the return for Duchene even more unbelievable.
This whole situation brings another wrinkle to a draft night that is already going to be a lot of fun. In the mean time, Avs fans can watch as the drama in Ottawa unfolds, knowing that as things get worse for the Sens, they’re only getting better for the Avalanche.