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Draft Mailbag: Bring on the third round!

A look at the options and opportunities the Avalanche have with their four-pick 2022 draft class.

2019 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With the NHL entry draft in Montreal first up in the order of the offseason events the Colorado Avalanche still celebrating their Stanley Cup victory will take a backseat in the festivities holding only four draft picks. Unless moves are made their 2022 draft class will be headed by the last pick in the third round at 97th overall plus the 161st, 193rd, and 225th pick in rounds five through seven.

Still, there’s promise of adding talent to the organization and therefore it is an essential opportunity for the Avalanche this week. They will first be on the clock on Friday, July 8th following the first round which concludes the night prior. In preparation, we asked our readers what was on their minds regarding the upcoming draft and your queries were much appreciated!

It is true that Joe Sakic has done well poaching Restricted Free Agents but the asset wallet is already pretty thin without a second-round pick until 2025 and recently transferring their 2024 third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes because Darcy Kuemper won the Stanley Cup. I’m a bit skeptical that a player with fourth overall pedigree is going to get moved for a non-first-round pick or a player who needs a change of scenery with the same pedigree but the Edmonton Oilers have decisions to make. It’s a little more Sakic’s style to go for under-the-radar targets so I think they sit this one out.

Conversely, the Avalanche could look to add to their draft arsenal by picking up additional picks by either moving down or trading the rights to players they don’t intend to sign prior to free agency opening on July 13th. Either of these options could bring in extra late-round selections to help beef up the draft class from four picks as it currently stands. Moving up higher into the third round or even above would take assets that are not really expendable at this time. J.T. Compher could fit the bill but it’s unlikely they are interested in moving him even with just one year left on his deal.

Focus on skill! That’s my mantra regardless of where the Avs pick in the draft. It seems like common sense but it’s amazing how much folks get talked out of skill when the draft rolls around. Even if the Avalanche could turn out role players from their own draft picks it still takes a very skilled player to make it to the highest level of hockey and not having the required amount means they have zero chance of making it out of the minors. It’s going to take someone very special to break the mold in this organization.

The “risk” play this year in particular would be to target Russians with the extreme levels of uncertainty currently surrounding them. The Avalanche seems to have had decent success getting Russians to sign Entry-Level Contracts, with Daniil Zhuravlyov the most recent example, so that seems to be the market inefficiency to exploit this year.

That’s a good philosophical question. I’d say the draft should always first and foremost be about bringing in talent to your organization because if you find a player you are getting at least eight to ten years of service from that selection. With where the Avalanche is selecting this year the picks won’t hold much trade value unless one of them has an incredible season next year and at that point, the Avalanche would be wise to keep them. This is more a question of retaining first-round picks moving forward as the Avalanche still have theirs in 2023 and beyond. One could argue Justin Barron increased his value from a random 2020 late first-round pick which helped them land Artturi Lehkonen. In general, though the Avalanche will have an extended window the more they hit on picks rather than trading them.

BayAreaUnitedinOrange: Thoughts on any D-men out there that might fit the 97th pick, as Avs have traded Timmins, Barron, and Helleson in past year and the cupboard is getting bare in the pipeline, other than Sean Behrens.

Rebuilding the defense pipeline is probably better saved for when the Avalanche make their next first-round selection if they hold on to that 2023 first or later down the road. But a few options could help on the blueline in this draft. Mats Lindgren is a left-shot defenseman from Kamloops in the WHL who scored 44 points in 68 games and has good hockey sense and a crisp first pass. If he develops well could become a Devon Toews-type player. Michael Buchinger, also a left-shot, from Guelph in the OHL also scored 44 points in 63 games and is of similar mold but might be a little rawer and needs to build strength. Both have some characteristics to fit in with the Avalanche down the road.

Since 2011 the Avalanche have drafted six goaltenders and only two with top 100 picks (Spencer Martin and Justus Annunen). With their long development curves, the position really isn’t something the Avalanche have focused their development resources on and they also did not select any netminders in the last two drafts. Chances are already low that a skater taken at 97th overall will impact the Avalanche so instead, they could leverage the pick and take one of the top goalies in a weak draft class for the position.

Tyler Brennan is the top-ranked North American goaltender by NHL Central Scouting but is still pegged to go around the second or third round. His WHL team in Prince George wasn’t very good and led to some depressing numbers but Brennan had an excellent playoffs where he put up a .954 save percentage in four games. Another option that might be available later in the draft is second-year eligible Thomas Milic who backstopped Seattle all the way to the WHL finals with a .925 save percentage and certainly will get noticed for that performance on draft day. Either of those two could be good adds to the organization to increase goaltender depth.