The Avalanche chose to move down, trading the 58th pick to Pittsburgh for picks 64 and 146. At 64, the Avalanche select the third goaltender in the draft.
Here is what our own Cat Silverman had to say about Annunen in her goaltender breakdown for The Athletic:
Strengths: Annunen is a big body of a prospect; he’s grown an inch and added nearly 20 pounds since he started his draft-eligible season, and he was already being watched for his size at that point.
Annunen is the poster child of the evolution of Finnish goaltending, adding in some conservative elements to a game that boasts quick, aggressive challenges and active hands.
After a lackluster international performance in his 2016-17 season, Annunen was a key piece of Team Finland’s gold medal win at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka tournament this past year, and his transition from Junior B to Junior A within the Finnish system ended on a high note with a strong playoff run. He still needs to show that his game can withstand the rigors of Liiga play in the coming years, but he’s managed to hold his own while working his way up the system in the last few years; he’s not a groundbreaking talent like we’ve seen in past draft classes, but he’s a solid option for a team that wants to add some potential depth down the line.
Weaknesses: Pronman pointed out one of the biggest issues in Annunen’s game in his own goaltending rankings, identifying the lack of a top-gear speed for the tall prospect when he tries to play with a Pekka Rinne level of aggression. He can’t quite execute the attack and retreat method that Rinne does with the timing of the perennial Vezina candidate, and that raises a red flag for teams that want to see a safe bet.
He’s got a little more agility than Gravel does at his size, but also plays a much more aggressive game — which can hurt him when he’s unable to recover as quickly as players like Dostal or Miftakhov. He’ll need to make a change before long; either he’ll have to adapt to playing a more conservative style to eliminate his need for so much extra movement, or he’ll need to work on his conditioning enough to get him across the top of the crease when he decides he needs to challenge.
Recommended path to the NHL: Few teams would try to move Annunen over to North America before they’ve seen him put up at least two quality seasons of play in Finland’s Liiga, proving that he’s both competent and consistent.
That puts him at least two years off from making the jump, although it’s likely that he’ll need closer to three or more before he’s officially ready for action at the AHL level. His current delays in getting across the crease would get quickly exposed with the smaller ice surface in North America, so he’ll need to see those changes made in his game before he gets a shot to come over.
Annunen adds a legitimate goalie prospect to a development system that desperately needs it. He will stay in Europe for a few years with the hopes that he develops enough to become a legitimate NHL option down the road.