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Sampo Ranta signs in Sweden

The Avalanche prospect will not play in the organization this coming season.

St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Finally a scant pebble of news on the Colorado Avalanche offseason front, pending Restricted Free Agent forward Sampo Ranta has elected to sign a two-year deal in Sweden with SHL club MoDo rather than sign another contract with Colorado which likely could have included the arbitration process.

An interesting wrinkle is that McDo General Manager Henrik Gradin also moonlights as an amateur scout for the Avalanche. Former prospect Josh Dickinson was the first to make the move to the Swedish club but also after he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks organization.

This likely signals the end of Ranta’s ambitions with the Avalanche, though the organization should extend the qualifying offer and retain his rights for four years until Ranta turns 27. If he impresses overseas then the Avalanche still have options especially considering the involvement of Gradin points this as perhaps a mutual decision. Ranta would have been waivers eligible and could have seen if another NHL club was interested in the fall but keeping that mystery alive could help some residual value down the line. Make no mistake though, this is not a typical path to a regular NHL gig but stranger things have happened.

Elite Prospects

As always when a prospect moves on the sentiments of the Avalanche should have drafted better come up. Considering Ranta was named an All-American in his three-year career at the University of Minnesota the talent level Colorado mined in the third round at 78th overall doesn’t seem to be the issue.

Ranta’s two-year career with the Avalanche had its peaks and valleys as he played a total of 18 games in the NHL including two in the postseason series against the Vegas Golden Knights but he failed to pick up a point over the two years (although what would have been his first NHL goal was called back on an offside play). Ranta’s AHL career was just as enigmatic in over 110 games he scored 43 points and bounced all around the lineup.

With an NHL ready frame and skating ability it shouldn’t have taken a ton of refinement to get Ranta ready to become a NHL role player so the questions fall on the shoulders of the development team. It’s true that Ranta lacked hockey sense particularly in the defensive zone but could forecheck like a monster and with a bit more experience should have chipped in a little offense.

Getting a full-time NHL player out of a third round pick isn’t the rocket science it seems to be as the league average probability for success as shown above (defined as 100 NHL games played) is 25% from that cohort. Maybe not the impact of say a Brayden Point but at least someone who locked down a regular NHL job for at least a season. The last of such the Avalanche turned out was Tyson Barrie who was drafted in 2009 so the organization has some catching up to do.