I watched a lot of film for players leading up to the draft that might be available for the Colorado Avalanche near the end of the first round.
I did not, however, keep track of some of these late round draft picks, so all of these players are unknown to me at the moment. And the Avalanche are not afraid to follow their board and select players who they feel is the best available. Sometimes, that means you draft players from smaller leagues around the world, and sometimes you select players who have been through the draft a few times already.
That’s exactly what they did on day 2.
With the 155th pick in the draft, Colorado went back to Russia for another defenseman, drafting 18 year old defenseman Nikita Ishimnikov. The only publication that ranked him was McKeens, putting him at 174, but he’s generally not on anyone else’s list. That’s okay, though. At this point in the draft, team rankings are wildly different than those of publications.
While Hockey Prospect didn’t rank him in their Black Book, they did have a report on him…
“Balanced, two-way defender. Nikita Ishimnikov is a big athletic looking player, but seems a bit unsure as to what kind of style of play he wants to employ. At 6’3” and almost 200 pounds, he has the frame to have a lot of stylistic “outs”.
Not a very good skater though, his heavy feet are noticeable. His lateral mobility is fine, but the straight line speed, pivots, and transition skating are well below the mark…to the point where it could be an issue.”
He played in the MHL over in Russia, which is like their version of the CHL. He finished with 18 points in 41 games. At this point, it’s a name to put in the back of your brain, and we’ll just see how he develops.
The next two players picked we might be seeing very soon, as the Avalanche went with two players who had been through the draft a few times already.
The pick at 189 was defenseman Jeremy Hanzel from the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. The 20 year old defender was a key part (wore an “A”) of a Seattle team that won the WHL Championship this past season. At 20, he has the option of going back for an overage year in Junior, or signing a contract and turning pro with the Avalanche. I would imagine we see him at next week’s development camp.
Hockey Prospect had him ranked pretty high, putting him at 72 on their list. This is what one of their head scouts had to say about him…
“It was a pleasure watching Hanzel is the WHL playoffs and Memorial Cup. The maturity, poise, details and all-around impact in his game were impressive. It’s hard to find a more complete defenseman in every zone than Hanzel playing junior hockey.”
And here’s what an anonymous Eastern Conference NHL scout told Elite Prospects…
“This kid never gives up. Walked onto that Seattle team, fought for every rung up the ladder. Has great feet, can move laterally, can kill plays. Should’ve already been a pick, but at 20 he may slip through again and have to fight some more through an AHL deal.”
Hanzel finished with 48 points in 66 games, and in the playoffs, posted 22 points in 19 games.
Colorado picks Jeremy Hanzel 187th overall, and that might be my favourite value pick of the later rounds
He was *so good* this year on the championship Seattle Thunderbirds. Made a tremendous amount of progress this season. The fit between him and the Avs is perfect, too
— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) June 29, 2023
And at 219, the Avalanche went even older, selecting center Maros Jedlicka out of Slovakia. He turns 21 this October, and put up 35 points in 39 games in his home country. Like Hanzel, he could sign a contract with Colorado and come to join the system immediately, but we’ll have to see what his contract status is in his home country.
He was ranked 208th by McKeens, but here is some highlights of him from this year.
And with that, the 2023 NHL Draft is complete for the Avalanche. Colorado hasn’t had much luck in the late rounds in the recent past, so we’ll just wait and see how they develop.
Up next? Free agency, and they’ve certainly got holes to fill. But for now, they’ve added some players to their system, and we may see a few of these guys in Loveland here soon.