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Who Should The Avalanche Draft? CHN’s Official NHL Draft Board

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We’re now just 10 days away from the NHL Draft, which takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada this year, and Colorado Hockey Now will be there for all of it. Every year, every NHL team puts together their draft board, ranking who they would take and in what order. I thought to myself…why don’t I give it a shot?

Now, I’m not going to rank every player available in the draft. I don’t have the time for that, and after the 24th pick, the Colorado Avalanche don’t even pick again until the fourth round. To prepare, I watched a lot of the players that could be available around the 24th pick. Some I liked, some I really liked, and some…not as much.

This list is composed almost entirely of guys that I think could realistically be available for the Avalanche to draft at 24, and doesn’t really include anyone that I expect to go higher, other than maybe two or three players. Someone falling that I didn’t expect to be there at 24 could change the rankings, but I made my list based on guys I think actually have a real chance of being there.

This is not a prediction of who is going where, but more a personal ranking of the players based on my viewings, so keep that in mind.

1. C/W Jett Luchanko

DOB: August 21, 2006 (17)

5’11”, 187 pounds

74 Points in 68 OHL games

If there’s one player that fits the way the Avalanche like to play, it’s this guy.

He’s a great skater, thinks the game at a high level, and has the motor to go with it. If he was an inch or two bigger, I think he’d be a surefire top 15 pick in this draft. Heck, he still might go that high. If he is there at 24, Colorado should run to the podium to make the selection. Doesn’t turn 18 until this August, so is actually one of the younger players in the league. Growth from year one to year two in the OHL was tremendous, and I think he’s only going to keep getting better. Does have a little bit of Yanni Gourde in him.

2. W Andrew Basha

DOB: November 8, 2005 (18)

5’11”, 187 pounds

85 points in 63 WHL games

Skill and hockey IQ are the two things that stand out with him. He’s not a great skater, but he’s also not a bad skater by any means. His stride just seems a little…awkward. It’s a little stiff, if that makes sense. When he gets the puck along the boards, he’s not afraid to attack the middle of the ice and is actually very good when he does so. Played a little bit of center this past year in the WHL, but odds are that he’s a winger at the NHL level. I see second line upside but with the way he works and thinks the game, he could easily play on the third line.

3. W Michael Brandsegg-Nygard

DOB: October 8, 2005 (18)

6’1″, 207 pounds

18 points in 41 games in HockeyAllsvenskanin Sweden

I’ve got him below Luchanko and Basha on my board, but he’s the first player on my board that I’m pretty sure is not going to be there when the Avalanche pick at 24. Some team before Colorado is likely to take him and be pretty happy, although it may take the people covering that team a little while to learn how to spell his name.

The Norwegian winger has spent the last two seasons in Sweden and could spend time in the Swedish Hockey League next season. A big guy who competes and uses his size to his advantage. He’s got a really good shot and can get it off in tight spaces. At 18, he’s also extremely reliable defensively, so there’s some safety drafting a guy like this that he can carve out a role at the NHL level. I don’t see him being a big-time producer at the NHL level, but he also seems like the type of guy who can play a complimentary role in the top six because of his work ethic, physicality, and smarts.

4. C/W Yegor Surin

DOB: August 1, 2006 (17)

6’1″, 192 pounds

52 points in 42 MHL games

Probably the first surprise player on my list, but I just love his game, and it’s my list, okay?!? He’s a competitive guy who has skill and a nasty side to his game. One thing I look for in evaluating these guys is their trajectory, and Surin took off as the year went on. Like Luchanko, he’s really young for this draft class, but as the season went on, Surin got better and better. After a relatively slow start, he put up 39 points in his final 27 games, then capped it off with 23 points in 19 games, leading his team to the MHL final. Ivan Demidov could go as high as 2 in this draft, and Surin wasn’t far behind him in production during the playoffs.

You’re definitely projecting with Surin, but that’s what you’re doing every year at the NHL draft. He tore up the MHL, but still hasn’t gotten much action at the KHL level (3 games), playing in a Lokomotiv system that is really patient with young players. I understand the questions around his IQ and just how much pure skill he has, but I just love his competitive nature. You may have to rein him in a little bit, but I think he’s someone who could pay off in a big way down the line.

5. D Alfons Freij

DOB: Feb. 12, 2006 (18)

6’1″, 197 pounds

33 points in 40 games at the J20 level in Sweden

Finally, a defenseman!

This draft is top heavy when it comes to defensemen, as most of the top 10 might end up being blueliners. After that, there’s a pretty big drop-off (in my opinion) and when you get past those top guys, a lot of those defensemen are bigger guys that lack the ability to move the puck. Freij isn’t small, but he sure can move and move the puck.

Colorado went with a smaller puck-moving defenseman last year at 31, but Freij is slightly different. While I don’t think he’s as good a skater as Mikhail Gulyayev, it’s close. He’s extremely agile and makes everything look effortless when he is moving. He’s got puck skills and played well at the U-18’s, but I wouldn’t say he’s a future #1 PP QB. Freij has the size and ability to become a top four defenseman in the NHL, and should be moving up a league next year over in Sweden.

6. D Adam Jiricek

DOB: June 28, 2006 (17)

6’2″, 168 pounds

1 point in 19 Czech league games

Barring a surprise, Jiricek will likely hear his name called by an NHL team on his birthday. That has to be a pretty cool experience. Where he gets selected is really up in the air.

Very highly thought of coming into the season, but struggled in the Czech league against men and then hurt his knee at the World Juniors. The injury came at a tough time because he didn’t get to show what he can do against players his age, but the talent is there. Teams will always have time for big, talented right-shot defensemen. I’ve heard from some scouts about potential attitude issues, but nothing like some other guys in the draft. If he falls to 24, it would be tough to say no to this skillset. Last year, Colorado took Calum Ritchie in the first, who was highly thought of coming into his draft year but injuries and an inconsistent year saw him drop on draft day. That seemed to work out well last year, so I could see them doing it again.

7. LW/RW Igor Chernyshov

DOB: Nov. 30, 2005 (18)

6’2″, 196 pounds

28 points in 22 MHL games, 4 points in 34 KHL games

Truth be told, I had Chernyshov higher about a week ago than I currently do. I still like him, as he’s got the size, skill, and defensive acumen to be a solid middle six forward. I’m not sure he has one skill that really stands out, but he’s pretty well rounded. The fact that he got decent minutes in the KHL as a teenager shows that. After watching him a little more, I moved him down a few spots and it really came down to preference with me.

While he does use his size well, especially when it comes to protecting the puck down low, he doesn’t have the natural aggression of a guy like Brandsegg-Nygard or Surin. At times, that leaves you wanting a bit more. I’m not sure that’s something that will just show up at some point either. The floor seems pretty high with Chernyshov, but I don’t know if the ceiling is that much higher. A pretty safe pick overall. Like Brandsegg-Nygard, I’d be surprised if he actually is available at the 24th pick.

8. LW Nikita Artamonov

DOB: Nov. 17, 2005 (18)

5’11”, 187 pounds

23 points in 54 KHL games

Colorado should have a good idea on what type of player Artamonov is, as he played on a line with Nikolai Kovalenko a fair bit this past season. That also means I saw a lot of him.

Artamonov got off to a red hot start and cooled as the season went on, but that was the case for pretty much the entire Torpedo team. Still, 23 points in 54 KHL games as an 18 year old is impressive production. There are questions as to how much natural skill he has, and I think those questions are fair. His skill doesn’t really jump out at you. However, he is a fantastic passer from the wing, especially to the middle of the ice, and a very smart player. Not a big guy at all, but he’s pretty fearless. You watch him and Artturi Lehkonen immediately comes to mind. The Avalanche have a good relationship with Torpedo, so they probably have all the intel on Artamonov they would need. Could be a top six player in a pinch down the line, but I see him as a good energy winger on the third line.

9. C Michael Hage

DOB: April 14, 2006 (18)

6’1″, 190 pounds

75 points in 54 USHL games

Hage barely played in 2022-23, so it took him a while to get going this season. When he did, he really took off. Might have been the best player in the USHL during the second half of the season. A fantastic player in transition and can really shoot the puck. I think he’s a really smart player. He’s not a massive guy, but he looks like he has a long reach that makes him difficult to defend. Seems more likely to be a wing in the NHL than a center, but there’s a lot of talent there. Heading to Michigan next season and they know how to develop talent.

10. C Cole Beaudoin

DOB: April 24, 2006 (18)

6’2″, 201 pounds

62 points in 67 OHL games

If you want to talk about safe, I’m not sure it gets much safer than Beaudoin. Uses his size to his advantage and isn’t likely to be outworked. His skating could definitely use some work to get to the next level.

Any team would love to have this guy in their bottom six moving forward. Big centers who can be trusted all over the ice are a hot commodity at the NHL level, so I think Beaudoin is going in the first round. The question with him is whether or not there’s enough ability for him to become anything more than a bottom six player. I’m not sure that there is, but I feel pretty confident that Beaudoin has an NHL future ahead of him.

Right about here is where I see a drop off from guys I’d feel comfortable taking at 24 to guys that I’d feel better about if the Avalanche traded down and acquired another asset.

11. C Teddy Stiga

DOB: April 5, 2006 (18)

5’10”, 178 pounds

79 points in 61 games

A really strong U-18’s (11 points in 7 games) moved this guy up a lot of lists, and I’ve heard Colorado is one of those teams that really likes him. At 24, I personally think he’s a little bit of a reach, but if they moved down and picked up another asset, he’d be a fine pick. He’s not big at all, but really smart and a fantastic skater. Headed to Boston College next year with his linemate from the USNDTP, so there will be some familiarity there. That team will, once again, be stacked.

12. C Sacha Boisvert

March 17, 2006 (18)

6’2″, 183 pounds

68 points in 61 games

He’s not that different than Beaudoin, but he seems a lot less refined. Skating needs a fair bit of work. I do think his offensive upside is maybe a little higher than Beaudoin’s, but I’m less convinced of his ability to get there. If he does get there, it might take a while, as he’s pretty raw right now. Headed to North Dakota next year.

13. W Matvei Gridin

DOB: March 1, 2005 (18)

6’1″, 185 pounds

83 points in 60 USHL games

If the Avalanche had two first round picks this year like they did last year, this is a guy I’d absolutely say they should swing for the fences on. Supremely talented and a good frame on top of that. You watch him and it sure doesn’t look like he has much interest working unless he’s got the puck or is right next to it, but when he gets that puck, he can make magic happen. There was one shift that stuck in my head where a defenseman was rushing up the ice and Griffin just kind of stood still, not even attempting to slow the defender down. That sort of stuff sticks out. I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable taking that at 24, but in a trade down scenario where they acquire more assets, I’d go for it.

14. D Dominik Badinka

DOB: Nov. 27, 2005 (18)

6’3″, 190 pounds

4 points in 33 Swedish Hockey League games

We’ve talked about how impressive it was for Gulyayev to earn a full-time spot in the KHL as a teenager, but Badinka did the same in the Swedish Hockey League, playing around 15 minutes a night for his team. He’s very solid in his own end against players much older than him, has good anticipation, and is a strong skater for someone his size. Flashed offense at lower levels, but mostly played it safe playing in the top league. Even then, I’m not sure there’s going to be a ton of offense from him in the NHL.

15. D E.J. Emery

DOB: March 30, 2006 (18)

6’3″, 183 pounds

16 points in 61 games

There are many that are much higher on him than I am, but the reason why I have him lower is pretty simple – I have concerns about how well he can move the puck at the next level, and that could really limit his potential.

For a big guy, he’s a tremendous skater and is fantastic defending off the rush. There’s a strong base to work with, but if he can’t do much offensively at lower levels, I don’t see him providing much, if any, at the NHL level. He’ll head to North Dakota next season with Boisvert.

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