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Colorado Avalanche Top 25 Under 25: #4 Mikhail Gulyayev

The newest defender on the Avs recieves high ratings.

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Mile High Hockey staff. Five writers have ranked players under the age of 25 in the Colorado Avalanche organization as of July 1, 2023. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked.

The newest and highly-touted defensive prospect for the Avalanche comes in fourth on our list. Mikhail Gulyayev has a ton of potential upside at only 18 years old, being the 31st overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

Gulyayev’s tenure with three teams in Russia last season at three different levels saw him rise and find success, especially with Yastreby in the MHL averaging over a point a game. The native Russian will continue to call Russia home for this season at least as he continues to play in the KHL with Avangard Omsk.

Avs fans got a first look at the newest prospect defender this summer at Development Camp. Of course, coming over to play hockey in the US can be daunting at first, but despite all the barriers in front of him Gulyayev impressed in the drills.

Mind you, this kid is only 18 years old and still has plenty of development ahead of him. He isn’t going to get a sniff of North American hockey just yet, at least another year or two down the line before it becomes a possibility. Gulyayev is arguably the most talented defensive prospect behind the two youngest defenders on the Avs's first team who have yet to be mentioned in this year’s edition of T25U25.

Joe Sakic, Chris MacFarland, and Jared Bednar love their young defenders able to move the puck. We’ve seen this time and time again with the draft selections of Cale Makar, Bowen Byram, and Sean Behrens. Gulyayev reigns in this department, able to skate freely and effortlessly and be demanding on defense to shut plays down and direct teammates.

An area where he is lacking is in shooting, as we saw in Development Camp. It got better over the span of three days, but if he is able to tune it all together, he can be a star in an NHL lineup years down the line. His ranking is only bound to go up from here when Makar and Byram are no longer eligible for this series.

Of course, there is always the question of what his development path looks like. The Avs have been notorious for losing players and unable to develop them to top talent and rise up the ranks to eventually join the first team full-time.

Gulyayev is one they will want to develop with all his potential, and likely want in their rotation years down the line. How will they develop him to play hockey the Colorado way? Will it involve rushing him over to play in North America with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies or AHL’s Colorado Eagles? Time will tell how they use this young man to their advantage, still with plenty of time ahead of him to craft himself as a great defender.

What do you think the future holds for Gulyayev? Let us know in the comments below!

2023 Top 25 Under 25

#5 Nikolai Kovalenko

#6 Sean Behrens

#7 Jean-Luc Foudy

#8 Oskar Olausson

#9 Justus Annunen

#10 Ben Meyers

#11 Sam Malinksi

#12 Jason Polin

#13 Ondrej Pavel

#14 Alex Beaucage

#15 Sampo Ranta

#16 Taylor Makar

#17 Jeremy Hanzel

#18 Trent Miner

#19 Colby Ambrosio

#20 Gianni Fairbrother

#21 Matt Stienburg

#22 Chris Romaine

#23 Maros Jedlicka

#24 Andrei Buyalsky

#25: Nikita Ishimnikov