It's a huge week for the Colorado Avalanche franchise, as they hold their highest selection in the upcoming 2011 NHL Entry Draft (at least since moving to Colorado).
Perhaps you have never followed the draft, or maybe you stopped paying attention to the Avalanche during their painful slide in February? It's possible that you have been spending your nights at Coors Field instead of poring over draft boards.
Don't worry -- SB Denver has you covered with the Colorado Avalanche Fan Draft Primer. Consider this a crash course so you can at least sound like an expert when the first names start dropping off the board.
Just The Basics
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft will be held over two separate days. The first round will begin on Friday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live on Versus from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rounds two through seven will begin on Saturday, June 25 at 11:00 a.m. EDT and should last most of the day.
What Kind Of Draft Am I Looking At?
This is a deep draft that should have quality players available through several rounds, with a consensus top tier of five players. There is no surefire top overall selection, leading to rumors of possible trades early in the draft as teams try to move up to grab the player they love.
This draft has been compared to the 2003 NHL Draft in depth, where players such as Patrice Bergeron, Jimmy Howard, and Corey Crawford were all selected in the second round and Joe Pavelski lasted until round seven. This draft won't have the immediate impact of 2003 simply because most of the players are not as physically developed as their 2003 counterparts.
There are only two players in this current draft that are viewed as NHL ready: winger Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Adam Larsson (maybe). Everyone else is likely to spend at least another year adding body mass and developing their game.
What About The Avalanche?
Make lots of popcorn, as this is the most important draft in Avalanche franchise history. Colorado holds the second overall selection (much like their Denver Broncos counterparts did in April) due to a very poor January and February this past season. This is the highest draft pick in Avalanche history, narrowly beating out 2009 when they drafted center Matt Duchene. That draft turned out alright, I guess.
Colorado also holds the 11th overall selection in this draft, received as part of the trade that sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement. This pick originally belonged to the Blues, but was top-10 protected. Since St. Louis finished 11th in points (thanks in large part to Stewart and Shattenkirk's performance in a Blues sweater) and did not win the draft lottery, this pick now belongs to the Avalanche.
As part of that same trade, Colorado's second round selection this year goes back to St. Louis. Colorado also traded their third round pick in this year's draft to the New York Islanders during the 2010 Draft in order to draft defenseman Stephen Silas in the fourth round. With both of these picks gone, Colorado will not select on the second day of the draft until Round Four. Still, with two selections in the top 11 picks of a deep draft, Colorado is looking to make a splash and find two franchise-type players.
Stay tuned for more coverage, including recent Avalanche draft history, players to watch for, and a draft Q&A.