Unless you are picking first overall in the NHL Draft, the possibility of a first-round pick going straight into your team is a long shot. For most teams, it’s about building the prospect pool with future players and possible trade pieces. For the Colorado Avalanche, this was no different. With six picks going into the draft, the Avalanche choose no goaltenders, one defenseman, and four forwards to add to their already high-end prospect pool. This is how the 2020 NHL Draft went down for Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche.
Justin Barron – 25th/First Round 2020 NHL Draft
A right-handed defenseman seems as if the Avalanche are trying to corner the market for prospects with that skill set. They already picked Cale Makar and Connor Timmins in the 2018 NHL Draft and have now added Justin Barron. This means in two to three years; the Avalanche could have a defensive right side of Makar, Timmins, and Barron. YES PLEASE!!! If that’s not the plan, they are in a position to trade prospects to win now without completely depleting their future depth.
According to Elite Prospects, ‘Barron produces points in two ways: through the rush and with his shot from the blue line. He loves to transport the puck up-ice, accelerating away from forecheckers while switching from one skating lane to the next. When he breaks in the offensive zone, he looks to cut to the slot or drop a pass to a teammate.’
Barron was a potential top-10 pick at one point but saw his draft stock hindered by health issues. The defenseman had to have multiple surgeries on a blood clot in his shoulder. Despite the injuries and being more of a defensive defenseman, Barron still put up 19 points in 34 games for a struggling Halifax Mooseheads team. The last player the Avalanche drafted from the Mooseheads didn’t work out too badly, a certain Nathan MacKinnon.
The same upside isn’t expected from Barron. Suppose he can become a top-six defenseman and Connor Timmins, Bowen Byram, Samuel Girard, and Cale Makar (all under 22 years of age). In that case, Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche will be more than happy.
Jean-Luc Foudy – 75th/Third Round 2020 NHL Draft
Like Barron, Jean-Luc Foudy was another talent whose draft potential dropped significantly due to a poor year. After posting 49 points in 63 games during the 2018-19 season, the thought process was Foudy would be a definite first-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft should his development continue. Instead, the forward took a step back in his second season with the Windsor Spitfires and recorded only 43 points.
Foudy comes from an athletic family. His brother Liam plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets, his father was a player in the CFL, and his mother was a track star. It’s no surprise then that Elite Prospects said before the draft ‘It’s not often that the clear-cut best skater in the draft finds themselves barely clinging to the second-round, but that happens to be the case for Foudy. Once he gets to top speed, he effortlessly maintains it, leading to drawn penalties or high danger scoring chances. He’s elusive as a puck-carrier and can operate in confined spaces with relative ease.’
He ended up dropping to the Avalanche in the third round and will add more speed to a side already frighteningly fast. Also, working with Nathan MacKinnon should help the youngster maximize the damage his speed can do at the top level.
Colby Ambrosio – 118th/Fourth Round 2020 NHL Draft
With their fourth-round pick, the Avalanche made it clear what they see the future as, picking forward Colby Ambrosio. Currently, at 5’9” and 170 lbs, the Ontario native will be heading to Boston College after playing for the Tri-City Storm in the United States Hockey League (USHL). His skating is his most vital point, and with the ability to play wing, he could see himself partnered with 2019 Avalanche draft pick Alex Newhook at BC next season.
He does need work on his puck management as his quickness can often lead to mishandling the puck, but who better to work with on that than current Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon during training camps.
Elite prospects think ‘Ambrosio flourishes in the offensive zone. He’s particularly potent off the rush, where he combines lateral quickness with deliberate stick-handling maneuvers to open up passing & shooting opportunities. He’s a deft puck-handler, capable of highlight-reel dangles. He’s also great in the face-off circle and was a staple on the Storm’s first power-play unit this season.’
Ryder Rolston – 139th/Fifth Round 2020 NHL Draft
The Avalanche traded up ten places to make this pick. In return, they gave the Pittsburgh Penguins the 149th and 211th picks, meaning they felt Rolston would not be there when their turn arrived. Rolston is the son of former Avalanche and New Jersey Devils player Brian Rolston and will be playing college hockey next season with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Once again, his skating skills stand out as his biggest plus, but Rolston is aware other areas need refining before going pro. In October 2019, he told Wes Crosby of NHL.com that at “the next level, you have to be able to play in all scenarios. I feel like just working on that side will turn me into a complete player. I’ll be able to play in all situations when the time comes.” Rolston may stay four years with Notre Dame before graduating to the American Hockey League (AHL).
According to Elite Prospects, Rolston ‘Stretched the zone and uses speed to beat defenders wide. Plays first unit PP. Great lateral mobility. Works hard to give good pressure on the backcheck. Good hands that work to protect the puck. Quick-release on his shot used edgework combined with puck protection handles to evade pressure in the offensive zone, even employed a kind-of “stationary spin” at one point.’
Nils Aman- 167th/Fifth Round 2020 NHL Draft
Every year the Avalanche seems to take an over-aged player, and this year was no different. Nils Aman is a 20-year-old center currently playing in the SHL with Leksands IF and put up three points in eight games with the senior team last season. The majority of his playing time came with Leksands Jr, where he put up 47 points in 30 games. His current general manager, Thomas Johansson, defines Aman as “a true center. Good hockey sense. Works hard both ways.”
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hamrin, a scout for McKeen’s Hockey, had this to say regarding the pick:
The Colorado Avalanche went into the 2020 NHL Draft with top-end talent there for all to see. For general manager Joe Sakic, it was all about building the prospect pool, and with only five picks, he did a fine job of keeping the Avalanche stocked with prospects and possible trade pieces.