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NHL Mock Draft 2019: Colorado Avalanche select Cam York 20th overall

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We traded down and somehow this top-tier defenseman was still available?!

Cam York
Rena Laverty/USA Hockey

First of all, I was shocked when Cam York was still available at the 12th overall pick. That shock grew further when no one had taken him and we (MHH) were up at 16. Then, we traded down, and he was still somehow available at 20?!

You might be thinking, ‘great, another smaller, mobile defenseman, because what the Colorado Avalanche need is another Tyson Barrie, Samuel Girard, or Cale Makar’. That’s fair. However, York was undoubtedly the best player still available to us at 20, and that’s why we took him.

The Numbers

York split time with the USNTDP junior team (USHL) and the national under-18 teams this season. York put up seven goals and 33 assists in 28 games with the junior team. He joined the national team for 63 more games and added 14 goals and 65 points with them to end the season. York set a USNTDP single-game points record this season when he recorded a hat trick and four assists for a seven-point outing (he had a fifth assist taken away a day later).

Here are his advanced statistics based on 14 games tracked:

From Mitch Brown’s CHL tracking project

Immediate takeaways? York is an excellent possession player, driver of offense, and one of the best defenders of zone entries, but there are still areas of his game that he’ll need to round out.

Strengths

Skating

York is one of the smoothest-skating defenders available in the draft, but his skating is better described as quietly effective, instead of flashy. Although his top-end speed isn’t as fast, the longer he skates, the faster he gets, and uses his edges to cut away from defenders as he carries the puck. He can change directions on a dime and is an excellent transition player. He’s unafraid to jump up into the rush or sneak into the offensive zone, and if he’s caught deep, York can pivot quickly and smoothly and get back to his own end.

Vision

York’s vision and intelligence allow him to read plays quickly and adjust his strategy for defending. He uses it to his advantage when quarterbacking the powerplay, as he read the developing play quickly enough to decide whether to pass the puck off or direct it towards the net. York knows where the dangerous scoring areas of the ice are, and how to get the puck to those areas.

Positioning

York’s mobility and gap control allow him to defend well in his own end. He defends zone entries extremely well, using his stick and body to drive attackers towards the boards and forcing them off pucks to limit controlled scoring chances. His ability to recognize the opposition’s passing lanes allows him to intercept the puck and redirect it to his forwards to generate offense of their own.

Weaknesses

Shot

York’s shot isn’t really a weakness, since he boasts an accurate, quick release for his wrist and slap shots. However, the way he uses it could be improved. His skating allows him to open up lanes to unleash his shot from the point, but he needs to work on getting the puck through towards the net instead of defaulting to passes for his teammates.

Strength

The one knock of York’s game is that he doesn’t play a physical style in his own end. He does throw occasional open-ice hits, but he often awards opposing attackers too much space by backing off of them as they come in on the rush. He can also be pushed around by larger opponents the longer they are in on the forecheck, which can be costly for puck retrieval and removal in his own end.

Summary

York will very likely be the second defenseman to be drafted in June (although he wasn’t in the mock draft). At the very least, his upside and talent lend himself to being a top-15 draft choice. York recognized where the weaknesses in his game were and made significant efforts to improve upon them.

Barrie, Makar, and Girard are smaller, smooth-skating defensemen already at Colorado’s disposal. York would round out that top four quite nicely, but he would also bring a dependable, smart two-way game. He has offensive upside, but York’s mobility and intelligence are the hallmarks of his game and what will make him a successful defenseman in the NHL.

Highlights


SB Nation Mock Draft

  1. New Jersey Devils - Jack Hughes
  2. New York Rangers - Kaapo Kakko
  3. Chicago Blackhawks - Alex Turcotte
  4. Colorado Avalanche - Kirby Dach
  5. Los Angeles Kings - Dylan Cozens
  6. Detroit Red Wings - Bowen Byram
  7. Buffalo Sabres - Cole Caufield
  8. Edmonton Oilers - Peyton Krebs
  9. Anaheim Ducks - Trevor Zegras
  10. Vancouver Canucks - Matthew Boldy
  11. Philadelphia Flyers - Alex Newhook
  12. Minnesota Wild - Vasili Podkolzin
  13. Florida Panthers - Philip Broberg
  14. Arizona Coyotes - Victor Soderstrom
  15. Montreal Canadiens - Thomas Harley
  16. New York Rangers - Arthur Kaliyev
  17. Vegas Golden Knights - Raphael Lavoie
  18. Dallas Stars - Moritz Seider
  19. Ottawa Senators - Bobby Brink

Our Other MHH Scouting Reports:

Dylan Cozens

Peyton Krebs

Alex Turcotte

Philip Tomasino

Brayden Tracey

Bryce Brodzinski