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2011 Colorado Avalanche Draft Primer: What To Do With The 11th Pick?

The Colorado Avalanche currently hold two of the top 30 selections in the first round of this year's NHL Entry Draft: the second overall, and the 11th overall they received via trade from the St. Louis Blues.

The Edmonton Oilers (#1 and #19) and Toronto Maple Leafs (#25 and #30) also hold two first round selections this year. The Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, and Blues do not own a first round selection this year.

We've already covered the likely prospects that could be selected with the second overall pick, but what happens at #11? Colorado has three options, all of them with their own unique advantages.

Pick At #11 Overall

Colorado wanted this pick in their trade with the St. Louis Blues as a way of evening out the swap. The Avalanche got the best player in the trade (Erik Johnson) while the Blues got two quality players drafted in the first round (Kevin Shattenkirk and Chris Stewart). This pick represents a redraft, an opportunity for Colorado to add young talent.

At 11th overall, the Avalanche are in a great place. Quality defensemen like Dougie Hamilton, Ryan Murphy, Oscar Klefbom, and Nathan Beaulieu are projected to be available around that pick. Any of these players would make for an immediate influx of talent into their future blue line (if Colorado selects Adam Larsson second overall) or quality balance in the first round (if Colorado selects a forward first). Two of the top 11 picks in the draft will almost always give you a quality draft. The Avalanche wouldn't mind taking a player at both spots.

Move Up Into Top Ten

With such an odd draft this year, as no two scouts can agree on the top players, it's possible that a player that Colorado really desires begins to fall out of the top five or six selections. Here's a distinct possibility:

The New York Islanders are said to covet defenseman Dougie Hamilton. If they select Hamilton with the fifth overall pick, then a player like Sean Couturier or Gabriel Landeskog (both have been mentioned as top three talents) could slip down to between eighth and 10th in the draft. If that happens, the Avalanche are likely to make a move up several spots in the draft to select that player. A draft haul of Landeskog and Larsson? Couturier and Huberdeau? Sign me up.

The cost to move up a couple of positions wouldn't be too major (potentially a second round pick in next year's draft) and the Avalanche could wind up with two top five talents out of the same draft class. It's a dream scenario, certainly, but not completely unheard of in the NHL draft world.

Trade Down, Gain Assets

Of course, the opposite could also be true. There could be no players at #11 that the Avalanche covet. With this draft class, most talent evaluators conclude that the top tiers of quality NHL caliber talent end around picks 12-14 -- giving Colorado the catbird seat.

If there are no players they truly want to select, the Avalanche would likely find plenty of suitors willing to part with quality assets in exchange for that pick. Considering Colorado's recent success at discovering undervalued quality talent in the second and third rounds (Ryan O'Reilly, Calvin Pickard, Tyson Barrie, Stefan Elliott), it wouldn't be surprising to see the Avalanche move down in the first round and gain a second or third round pick in this draft or 2012. With plenty of holes in their farm system currently, it could be a good value to add multiple high-upside players instead of one player they don't completely love at #11 overall.