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Colorado’s biggest need has been filled. What would you most like to see the Avs address next?
AJ: I’ve always been a defense-first kind of guy, but even with the hole(s) on the Avalanche blueline, I want to see how they fill the myriad of forward jobs. I wonder if the injury issues last year will push the team to go find more Evan Rodrigues-type of players who can fit into a lineup in multiple roles. Too many of their guys on the playoff roster were limited role players, so I think the Avs filling the forward corps out with versatility would be my number one priority.
Jesse: I’m not sure if this is a cop-out answer… or maybe it’s not even really answering the question, but I feel like they need to address the Bowen Byram contract next. It’s too important to the overall scheme of what they’ll ultimately be able to do, I think that needs to get done next.
After that, go round out the top-six.
Meghan: I’d like to see the Avs’ solution for the loss of Erik Johnson. The bottom-pairing is in flux, and it’s only aggravated with uncertainty around Josh Manson’s health. With both the Johnson’s penciled to hit free agency, Colorado will need to fill at least two holes. To my Sam Malinski people, I’m still excited to see his camp, but Colorado needs to be serious about their third pairing. We saw what a combination of Kurtis MacDermid and AHL call-up’s did to the Avs last season, and they need some reliability. Brad Hunt is signed through next season, so he’s an option, but I’m sure we could all agree that we’d be more comfortable with Hunt in a 7th man capacity.
Rudo: The Avs need to finish sorting their top-6 forwards. This can be solved in a myriad of ways. Some as simple as bringing back Evan Rodrigues to play as a 2nd line winger, and some as complicated as a multi-part blockbuster trade. With a number of internal decisions still to be made it would be nice to see the Avs get this momentum rolling down hill leading into free agency.
Now that the Avs have 2C, what would you like to see them do with the 27th pick on Wednesday – keep or trade?
AJ: As we get closer and closer, I think I’ve come around to the idea that they should trade it…but not for a roster player. I’d rather see them trade down into the second round with a team that has multiple picks, and then flip one of those picks for a player, like a Yegor Sharangovich or Jack Roslovic. Then they make the selection they keep somewhere in the second round. They miss out on a first-round prospect, but I think the guys they really like are likely to be gone when 27 comes up, so finding a way to move down would be aces.
Jesse: I’ve been saying it since the trade deadline, trade it.
Given where this team is at in terms of their competitive window, I personally just do not see the value in making the selection, assuming there’s a deal out there to be made.
There are still enough spots on this roster that need to be sorted out between now and July 1st, and if Chris MacFarland can continue to make moves ahead of the market like he did with Johansen, I think Wednesday’s First Round pick should absolutely be on the table.
Meghan: I will be on the draft floor, so Draft Meghan wants them to keep it. 2024 Season Meghan and beyond wants them to trade it. I’m open to a few options. If the Avs trade for a player, I want it to be a big enough swing to add a winger to round out Colorado’s scoring punch or that reliable, stay-at-home defenseman. If they trade for slightly later picks that turn the pick into more than one player (2nd or early-3rd round) this draft has the potential to tuck away some diamonds – similar to Foudy who fell to the third round despite his strong skating. I’d be happy with that just because of how deep this draft is.
Rudo: I still want them to trade it, and do so for a roster player. While considering the future is important you can’t win a cup three years from now this year. You have most of your key pieces in their prime locked for the next four years. If you aren’t willing to push your chips in now, when will you be?
If the Avs stay in the draft, what prospects would you like to see them select?
AJ: I don’t think there’s a realistic chance for him to get to the Avs anymore just given the way the hype has gotten attached to him in the last few weeks, but I really love Quentin Musty from the OHL. His power game would be a welcome addition to Colorado’s forward corps but I’m just struggling to believe 26 players will get picked before him.
If I’m right about that, I think my attention turns to Tanner Molendyk. His elite skating is a wonderful fit in Colorado and he’s an exceptional transition defenseman already, something that plays in Denver. His lack of production is concerning for a guy who is so skilled at transporting pucks from defense to offense, but even if there are shortcomings on the offensive end, a competitive defender who excels at moving pucks out of his own zone is a great stylistic fit for the Avalanche.
To piggyback off my trade idea above, if the Avs moved into the early second round, I’d be looking for them to target goaltender Michael Hrabal. Taking him at 27 feels rich, but getting him in the mid-late 30s would be a much better value.
Jesse: This is tough for me, because if I’m being honest… I will be a little bit disappointed if they decide to keep the pick and make a selection at 27.
That said, if they must… I’d like to see a defenseman. That portion of the prospect pool has been particularly depleted over the last two-three seasons, and it would be nice to see the Avs be able to restock there a bit. I really like the Euro players when you’re picking late. You can sometimes see an easier transition if the prospect is already coming from a pro league. I’ve liked a guy like Tom Willander, but now suddenly there’s some buzz that he could be shooting up to the teens, if not higher. So we’ll see if he’s even still in the range of Colorado’s pick.
If it’s a forward, I really like Meghan’s suggestion below. I think Gavin Brindley is a really nice fit for what the Avs like to do.
Meghan: I’m excited to look for a few names. Colorado hasn’t been shy about giving the NCAA kids a chance, and if Gavin Brindley is still available at 27 (in lieu of a better defensive prospect), he’s a winger worth taking. He’s small in today’s NHL at 5’9″, but he profiles similarly to Kailer Yamamoto and could round out a middle-six role for the Avs. He’s a work horse and seems to play a well-rounded game. I’m always encouraged to see young guys earn responsibility in their college lineups and beat out upperclassmen. He had a prolific freshman year thanks in part to draft darling and linemate, Adam Fantilli. I have confidence he has a strong foundation of pro habits already built that will translate well to Colorado’s demanding buy-in.
Rudo: I’ve been pretty vocal about my love for Oliver Bonk on the defensive side I think defense is the part of the Avs prospect pool that needs the most attention, Not just because of a general shortage of D prospects but because Bonk is quite competent on the defensive side of the puck and can help fill a role that feels very empty since the trade of Drew Helleson.