The week has finally come, and Bob Mackenize - Bobby Margarita - has emerged from his margarita-making cabin to bring you his annual draft rankings. His rankings are considered by most to be the closest to what will happen on draft night. Not saying they are 100% accurate but he polls NHL scouts to see what they are thinking and then lets the world know.
The Colorado Avalanche has seemed to follow his final rankings quite closely. While I personally don’t like the word “fall” to describe a prospect you draft - it's all subjective, you rank a player, then you draft the player accordingly- some prospects ranked higher in Mackenize’s list have been selected later by the Avalanche.
So let's take a closer look. Starting in 2017, the Avalanche selected Makar fourth and Timmins 32nd. Mackenize had them ranked fourth and 28th respectively. In 2018 the Avalanche selected Kaut 16th, Annunen 64th, and Ranta 78th. Mackenize had them ranked 16th, 75th & 63rd respectively. 2019 the Avalanche selected Byram 4th, Newhook 16th and Helleson 47th. Mackenize had them ranked 3rd, 13th, and 47th.
As you can see, the Avalanche have tended to select a player very very close to the player ranked by Mackenize. Barron in 2020 was selected 25th, and Mackenize again had him ranked at 25th. The last time the Avalanche was selected in the 1st and 2nd rounds, they selected Olausson 28th and Behrens 61st. Mackenize had them ranked 34th and 50th respectively. Now that was also the first draft led by current Head of Amateur Scouting Wade Klippenstein.
With all that in mind, let's see who Mackenize got ranked at 27th for this coming draft. At 27 he has Andrew Cristall, LW from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. What would he bring to the Avalanche? Cristall is a highly skilled winger who has the IQ and dynamic skills to go along with it. Where he’s lacking is skating. It will need to improve, a lot.
While I believe this draft will not produce any elite-level defensemen, there were two ranked right near 27. Theo Lindstein at 26 and Oliver Bonk at 28. Lindstein I was surprised to see has highly ranked as he was. This might be due to the simple fact of lack of quantity and quality defenders in the class.
Lindstein to me can be summed up in 1 word. Safe. He’s a safe player. He’s not highly skilled, not a great flashy skater, not an offensive upside guy, just a safe, stead, self-aware defenseman. And that is great for the Avalanche. They don’t really need another high-end defenseman. They need the compliment. The play killer, the smart decision maker. The stead reliable defensemen and that's what Lindstein is. If the Avalanche takes him here, he has 1 more year in Sweden to go (unless he opts for the AHL) before he comes over. Which to me would make the most sense as the defense for the Eagles is pretty full right now.
Oliver Bonk is another defenseman who profiles to be a more shut-down defender with limited offensive upside. While understanding this was his first real OHL season, and he showed a lot of promise, he still needs a lot of time to develop. I think he is solid on the defensive end, has a decent shot, and has benefited from being part of a high-end OHL team. Bonk projects to me as a 3rd pair-heavy defense zone minute muncher. But I wonder if the Avalanche selected him if they will be patient enough to wait for him.
A few other players around 27 that Mackenize had who I like include, Quentin Musty at 25, Bradley Nadeau at 31, Charley Strumel at 34, and David Edstrom at 37
While this draft class is very talented in the top 12, there will be some very good, solid players available at the back end of the 1st round and into the 2nd round.