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NHL Draft: Taking a chance on Drew DeRidder could be a smart option for Colorado

The Colorado Avalanche could reap the benefits of moving away from their old goaltending preference in selecting Michigan State commit Drew DeRidder

USHL Fall Classic - Day 3 Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

As the Colorado Avalanche head into the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, it’s almost certain: they’re going to have to take a goaltender, and preferably not an absolute flyer of a pick.

The team has done a semi-decent job of, at the very least, making an effort at drafting goaltenders in the last handful of seasons.

Despite that, they’ve done an abysmal job at actually putting in the work to select goaltenders that have more than a slight prayer at panning out.

In the four seasons that Patrick Roy was at the helm as head coach and VP of hockey operations, they took a goaltender at every draft but the 2015 class, starting with Spencer Martin in 2013 and selecting Swedish option Adam Werner in 2016 before Roy finally departed later that summer.

None of their options were particularly promising, though. Martin went in the third round (as projected) in 2013, but was a part of the ‘highlight-reel’ group of goaltending prospects who still struggles to get control of his positioning even at the lower levels of the pro game. Then came Slovakian goaltender Maximilian Pajpach in 2014, who saw technical struggles forgiven due to a poor defense in front of him during his draft year before getting relegated to backup status in Slovakia’s Tier II league this season. Colorado hasn’t retained his rights.

After Pajpach, Colorado opted not to select a goaltender in 2015, then followed up with Swedish pick Adam Werner in 2016 during the fifth round - and although he made a four-game appearance in the AHL this year, his numbers weren’t overly impressive and he’s headed back overseas for the 2018-19 campaign as well. Given that he’s stuck in Sweden’s Tier II league for now, there’s not an overwhelming ton of promise there, either.

Once Roy left, the Avalanche drafted another goaltender in 2017, picking up Petr Kvaca in the fourth round as a draft overager. He still has time to pan out, but is stuck in the tier II league for the Czech Republic himself - so if things work out for either him or Werner, expect it to happen after they make the move to North America, not before.

There were some external factors behind Martin seeing so little ice time during the 2017-18 campaign for San Antonio, but his performance was no small part of the relegation behind St. Louis prospect Ville Husso; he fell below a .900 save percentage in all situations, and that was on an AHL team that saw both Husso and minor leaguer Joe Cannata finish above a .920 on the year.

Keeping that in mind, we’ll spend the next few weeks looking at a few of the goaltenders that Colorado could look to snag in Dallas this month.

Operating under the assumption that they don’t plan on using a particularly high pick - and hoping that they don’t take an absolute reach pick, either - we’ll look at some of the guys who boast safe games, easy access for development updates, and qualities that Colorado could start to turn to after their last batch of prospects fell somewhat flat.

To start, we’ll take a look on this side of the pond, overviewing American-born prospect Drew DeRidder.

DeRidder spent this past season in the US Development pipeline, skating for the U18 and U17 rosters when he wasn’t on the U18 World Juniors team or in the USNTDP lineup. He’s headed for Michigan State for the 2018-19 season, where he’ll battle with 2017-18 starter John Lethemon and returnee Spencer Wright for the chance at some starts.

2017-18 numbers:

DeRidder had a mediocre season for the US National Development Program and underwhelmed a bit at the U18 World Juniors, and he’ll get passed on by at least one or two teams that could sorely use a dark horse prospect in their system purely for his size. Standing at just 5’10 according to Elite Prospects, he’s definitely not going to ‘wow’ anyone with his reach or lanky presence in net - and that’s going to scare at least a few GM’s off.

What he does have, though, is an impressive sense of control for his age - which is likely something that’s come from making it as far as he has at his size, particularly during a period where we’re seeing teams interested in lanky goaltenders earlier and earlier on.

Take a look back at this sequence of saves from this past February:

A lot of shorter goaltenders, for a time, were taught to push out as far as they could, challenging for additional space beyond their crease and getting burned as a result.

What DeRidder manages to do, though, is stay calm and confident with conservative and smart positioning. He keeps his balance centered and squares himself nicely to the puck at all times, careful not to over-commit or fall into a nasty habit of using things like shifty edgework or too-frequent post integration to look flashy at the expense of his positioning. He’ll be stateside to monitor development-wise at Michigan State, and could be a great option to have in the system moving forward.