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Today we check in at #9 with polarizing defenseman Stefan Elliott. Elliott clocked in with an average rating of 9.7, ranging from 9 (on 3 ballots) to 11 across the 6 BSN Avalanche writers.
Who is Stefan Elliott?
Stefan Elliott has seen plenty of action with the Colorado Avalanche over the last several years, making appearances in 63 NHL games while amassing 6 goals and 18 points, but has yet to see anything resembling consistent ice time with the big club.
Since being a 2nd round pick in the vaunted 2009 draft class, Elliott has produced 93 points in 198 games in the AHL to go along with his NHL production. While not elite production, Elliott’s offense, by far the better side of his game, has grown significantly, culminating in his 18-goal explosion for last year’s Lake Erie Monsters team.
An explosive offensive player, Elliott’s greatest strength is the way he rushes pucks up the ice, transitioning a defensive position into attack mode, and creates scoring chances for his team. In just 5 appearances this season for the Avalanche, Elliott put 10 pucks on net and finished as a positive Corsi player. While small sample sizes of course mark just a 5-game sample, the numbers he produced were still extremely impressive, especially when compared to other players given similar ice time in their call-up stints.
He has an elite wrist shot, which he has shown at every single level he’s played. Let’s go to the tape.
That’s a guy who belongs in the NHL, flat out. Despite his tantalizing offensive array of skills, his lackluster defensive game continues to be the reason he has not seen the NHL consistently. He has a good frame but a reluctance to use it and the occasional mental lapse continue to hold Elliott back from reaching his full potential.
What is the future for Stefan Elliott?
As a longtime Elliott fan myself, we’re approaching an unfortunate reality with Elliott. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, making it likely he returns for one last shot, but his fit in the Avalanche organization no longer makes a lot of sense. The team has proven that despite his impressive showings in limited NHL time they do not believe he is an upgrade to their blue line.
As an AHL All-Star last season, Elliott’s career seems to have hit the proverbial rock and hard place. Too good for the league he is currently slated to play but deemed not good enough for the big leagues, Elliott’s immediate future with the Avalanche might best be served as the 8th man on the blue line next season where he is a natural replacement for Zach Redmond when Redmond experiences the inevitable struggles of a 3rd-pairing defenseman.
Beyond that, Elliott could continue to hone his craft in the AHL, overcoming some of the confidence issues he’s struggled without throughout his pro career, and proving to the other 29 NHL organizations that he’s simply a player who needs to be given a fair shake.
Unfortunately, more and more it appears Colorado is not going to be the place to provide Elliott the NHL shot he’s proven he deserves.