The Colorado Avalanche have six picks in the upcoming draft. They select 25th, 75th, 118th, 149th, 167th and 211th. Here are some more players they might have some interest after the first round.
Drew Commesso – G – USDP U-18, USHL
Bob McKenzie Rank – 87
I’m not much of a goalie expert, but the more I have poked around about who are the top goalie prospects in draft, Commesso’s name keeps popping up. The calm, cool and collected netminder is very good at tracking the play and reading what’s going on in front of him. His vision and IQ are excellent, and he uses his 6’2” frame to his advantage.
He uses the butterfly to take up space and is quick when he has to make a post-to-post save. I like how he competes when players are in his way. He will fight for position and to track the puck. All in all, I like what he brings to the table.
I think it would be a good idea for the Avalanche to draft him with their 75th pick. Commesso is set to go and play with Boston University once their season starts - where he will be tutored by former pro goalie Brian Eklund. There is a good chance he will make Team USA’s World Junior team as the third goalie behind Spencer Knight and Dustin Wolf.
Michael Benning – RHD – Sherwood Crusaders, AJHL
Bob McKenzie Rank – 67
Michael Benning is an offensively gifted defensemen. Standing at 5’10” 175 lbs, the right-handed defensemen put up 22 goals, 114 assists in 114 games in the AJHL. Another player who put up similar number in the AJHL was some kid named Cale Makar. Benning has the NHL bloodlines as well, with brother Matt playing for Edmonton and uncle Jim the GM of the Vancouver Canucks.
On the ice, Benning is a great puck mover and has great passing vision. Making passes through tight spaces and hitting forwards in stride with long stretch passes. While he is not the fastest player, he has a quick first step and moves very well side to side. He uses his high-end hockey IQ to make the right play instead of forcing something to happen. He has a sneaky good wrist shot as well. It gets to the net and creates rebounds.
In the defensive zone Benning’s hockey IQ shines, as he is well positioned and reads the play really well. While size may be a bit of a concern, he makes up for it with quick puck movement and fast sticks breaking up plays. That said, when under pressure he does tend to make mistakes. He will needs to learn to create a little more separation in the defensive zone.
If the Avalanche selected him at 75th, it is probably because he fell to them. Lots of boards have in late second or early third round. Benning - like teammate Carter Savoie - will be heading to Denver University this fall. Again, he would be on a two to three year plan, with a year in the AHL. Adding a puck moving RHD is never a bad thing. Teams usually pay a premium for them, so having one developing in your backyard would be very beneficial to the Avs.
Sam Colangelo – RW – Chicago Steel, USHL
Bob McKenzie Rank – 41
Sam Colangelo name that has some buzz to it as of late. Ryan Clark of the Athletic selected him in the first round for the Avalanche Corey Pronman’s annual Athletic staff mock draft. While many have him in the early to mid-second round on their boardsit wouldn’t be shocking if he found his way into the top-31 picks.
Colangelo played in the USHL on the dominant Chicago Steel team this past season. He is a pure goal scorer, putting up 28 in 44 games. He has a big frame, standing 6’2” and 207 lbs.
Offensively, he does it all, and being big did help him along against young competition. Colangeo not being afraid to use the big body will serve him well when moving to Northeastern this fall.
Colangelo is a shooter. The hands are quick, the shots get off fast and the vision of where the puck goes is high end. He is also a very good playmaker, which fools defenders as well. He has been known to switch it up, looking like he with shot then pass it off with a slap pass or a quick deke move - creating space for his linemates to get open. Colangeo’s size allows him to win board battles and can skate and hold on to the puck very well.
Defensively, he creates chaos with his back-pressure. He uses an active stick to cut down passing lane and again using his large frame to separate players from the puck. He is also a solid penalty killer, understanding where to be and when to pressure, and having that kind of scoring ability, makes him dangerous is he gains possession.
Where Colangelo will need to improve as he goes to the NCAA is his skating. Fundamentally he is good. He is fluid in his motion, long stride and he is good on his edges. He will need to work on his foot speed and continue to use his quick step to get around. If he can add some strength in his lower body he will be very hard to move in front of the net, especially if the league continues to put smaller defensemen on the ice.
Twenty-fifth seems like a reach to me. But, the Avalanche scout the USHL really well. They have drafted kids from the league before and before acquiring Bowers from Ottawa; he was on their radar to draft if he fell to the second round. That being said, would it surprise me if he were selected 25th? No. He will need some time though. Northeastern has developed some really nice NHL prospects as of late. Colangelo is in good hands there. Two years in the NCAA, hopefully he can crack the USA U-20 WJC team, and probably an AHL season before we see him in an Avalanche uniform. Coming in just as Burakovsky’s contract is coming to an end seems like a good transitional plan.