With the Stanley Cup Final underway (and our in depth preview already online) 30 teams are already thinking about the upcoming NHL 2021 Draft. The Colorado Avalanche is one of those 30 teams. After scouring the draft sites and scouting the players we take a look at the Colorado Avalanche Draft Pick Projection for the first-round pick.
The Avalanche will pick 28th overall but will be the 27th team taking the stage due to the Arizona Coyotes draft pick ban. In this draft pick projection, we look at mostly forwards. This was because most draft sites had a forward as the 27th pick and because that is the area I feel the Avalanche needs to rebuild after seeing the likes of Alex Newhook, Sampo Ranta, and Martin Kaut all play NHL minutes last season.
Each player will have five draft pick projections from five different sites in numerical order. The 27th draft pick projection for each player will be in bold to easily identify. The synopsis of the player is my opinion only and I unfortunately have no impact on who Joe Sakic will pick. However, if you need me Joe I’m available. Let’s get rolling!
Zachary Bolduc – Center – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) – 6’1” – 174 lbs
Recruit Scouting: #23
Rink Royalty: #27
McKeen’s Hockey: #29
Dobber Prospects: #34
Elite Prospects: #45
Photo: Mathieu Belanger/Getty Images
We start the draft pick projection with one of three Zachary’s on the list. While a threat going forward, Bolduc is also not afraid to mix it up defensively. He hounds the puck carrier no matter where they’re at and is comfortable playing along the boards. This is an area the Avalanche can get better at in the coming years. Bolduc could be seen as an answer to that.
His frame means he can protect the puck with ease in the QMJHL, but unless he bulks up that would not be as effective in the NHL. Also, despite scoring ten goals in 26 games during the 2020-21 shortened QMJHL season the forward is very much a pass-first type player. With the possibility of playing on the wing for the Avalanche, you would like to see this even out. He also has a habit of switching off defensively as his shift begins to come to an end.
Zachary L’Heureux – Left-Wing – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) – 5’11” – 196 lbs
The Puck Authority: #11
Dobbers Prospect: #19
On The Forecheck: #27
Elite Prospects: #27
McKeen’s Hockey: #31
Photo: Daniel St Louis
If Zachary L’Heureux is available at 27 you take all of thirty seconds off the clock to get to the stage and announce your pick. While no pick this late in the first round should be making a team competing for a Stanley Cup, I’m also not saying L’Heureux couldn’t. Ideally, he goes back to the QMJHL and dominates for a full season before moving to the AHL for several games to transition to the pro game.
At 5’11” L’Heureux plays a physical game as if he was 6’5”. He has no problem going to the dirty areas or letting opposing players know he’s around. However, his game is not one-dimensional and he is as skillful as he is tough. He also makes good, quick decisions at both ends of the ice showing an understanding of the game beyond his years.
The downside is he has yet to learn how to harness that physicality and takes a lot of penalty minutes. In a 33 game season, he spent 47 minutes in the box. If you can harness that then you are getting yourself a gritty, top-six power forward who would be ideal against the heavy-hitting teams ala Vegas this postseason.
Logan Stankoven – Right-Wing – Kamloops Blazers (WHL) – 5’8” – 170 lbs
McKeen’s Hockey: #13
Elite Prospects: #26
TSN/Bob McKenzie: #44
Photo: Allen Douglas/Kamloops Blazers
I want to see the Avalanche chose Stankoven just to see a Power Play consisting of Makar, MacKinnon, Rantanen, and the current Kamloops Blazers forward. Why!?! Because this guy’s shot and release is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Add that to his explosive out-of-the-gate speed and watching Stankoven and MacKinnon skate at defenses would be an absolute dream to watch.
At 5’8” his size will ultimately be a problem. While he doesn’t let it affect his game currently playing against peers, the step up to the NHL will be a real big test. Not that his defense is a problem. He is just as active on the defensive end as the offensive but his size can sometimes get in the way. That would be amplified by a thousand at the pro level and can be the only logical reason for TSN/Bob McKenzie putting him outside the first round.
Simon Robertsson – Right-Wing – Skelleftea AIK (SHL) – 6’0” – 190lbs
Robbers Prospects: #8
McKeen’s Hockey: #14
Recruit Scouting: #20
Elite Prospects: #29
Puck Possession. The Avalanche likes to have it and Robertsson doesn’t like to lose it. With this in mind, it would be easy to see why Robertsson would be high on the Avalanche draft board if it ends up that way. His evasiveness with the puck and his selfless play make him a perfect fit for the current Avalanche roster. He’s also good at driving offense into dangerous areas from anywhere on the ice.
While defense isn’t his strongest attribute, it also isn’t a glaring hole in his game. His hockey IQ often means he’s heading to the right areas of the ice but just not executing as cleanly as you’d like. It improved during his brief stint in the SHL playing against men which will benefit him as he looks to move to the pro game in North America.
Robertsson’s ceiling is probably higher than others with the pace, skill, and IQ he possesses, but his skating will need work as it can be heavy-footed at times.
Xavier Bourgault – Center – Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) – 6’0” – 172 lbs
Dobber Prospects: #15
FC Hockey: #27
Recruit Scouting: #29
Elite Prospects: #36
Photo: Jean Levasseur
Without a doubt, Xavier Bourgault’s vision is probably the best of the bunch. How he sees some of the open ice plays is beyond scary, and he uses it well to exploit oppositions for both himself and his teammates. This has led to his play-making abilities being the main talking point leaving his shot very underrated.
Unfortunately, this is where the niceties end. His skating is not up to an NHL standard and his vision often covers for it as he can slide into good positions. It would need to improve, along with his lackluster defensive game if he wants to stand a chance of reaching his full potential in the NHL. I would be beyond shocked if the Avalanche chose Bourgault, despite the draft pick projection, especially as he is one of the older kids in the 2021 draft with a 2002 birthday.
Francesco Pinelli – Center – Kitchener Rangers – 6’1” – 185 lbs (spent last season on loan at HDD Jesenice of the AlpsHL)
Elite Prospects: #16
Recruit Scouting: #19
Dobber Prospects: #27
Draft Prospects Hockey: #31
Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images
Pinelli decided to go abroad this season with the OHL failing to get a season started due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Playing in the AlpsHL for Slovakian team HDD Jesenice, Pinelli scored 11 points in 13 games. A strong skater, Pinelli played a lot of his time on the wing during his stay in Slovakia, but as he returns to the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers he’ll likely move to center. His skating is his strong point and he’s not afraid to battle against the boards and at the net front.
There have been times when he’ll take an extra second with a pass or play which will not fly as he looks to move to the NHL. Pinelli is also the player furthest away from making an NHL team with two years of playing at the OHL level a likely scenario. With continued progression though there is no reason he can’t be a second-line center in the NHL.
Matthew Coronato – Left-Wing – Chicago Steel (USHL) – 5’10” – 183 lbs
Draft Prospects Hockey: #17
The Puck Authority: #27
Elite Prospects: #32
Recruit Scouting: #36
Photo Courtesy of Chicago Steel
There’s no doubt Coronato has had an eye-catching season. The New York native more than doubled his 2019-20 totals with 48 goals and 85 points in 51 games during the 2020-21 USHL. He will make the next logical step by taking the NCAA route in 2021-22 after committing to Harvard University.
The offensive game is there, as evident by the 85 point season. His shot release is quick and combined with a hard wrist shot it’s easy to see the transition being easy to the NHL. Coronato also isn’t afraid to attack the net and take up the so-called dirty areas in pursuit of a goal.
The defensive game needs some improvement before reaching the pro level. Despite not being afraid to defend his first step and skating in general needs work, while he can also be caught puck watching instead of following the game. He has a chance to work on this at Harvard and with his dedication to a two-way game, he should find himself in the NHL someday.
Zachary Dean – Center – Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) – 6″0″ – 176 lbs
Elite Prospects: #15
Recruit Scouting: #27
Dobber Prospects: #31
TSN/Bob McKenzie: #32
Photo: Robert Greeley
Zachary Dean is another player who doesn’t mind getting physical, ala Zachary L’Heureux, and is a force to be reckoned with in the offensive zone. He can dodge opposition players with ease thanks to a strong skating ability and hands that are just as quick as his feet. Once in the offensive zone Dean reads the play well and can open lanes for both himself and teammates.
Unfortunately this ability to read the play doesn’t transfer to his defensive game and he can often be caught out of position or puck watching. He also tends to drift wide instead of trying for the inside lane. Correcting this would lead to much more high danger scoring chances for himself. Dean also has a tendency to chirp (especially at referees when he disagrees with a decision) which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but would need to be controlled at the NHL level.
Dean is the type of player (at least offensively) the Colorado Avalanche lack. Someone comfortable playing a physical game along the boards. There are a lot of things that would need to be fixed but the chances of Dean being an NHL’er are high, even if as only a third or fourth liner.
Matthew Samoskevich – Center – Chicago Steel (USHL) – 5’11” – 190 lbs
Elite Prospects: #19
Draft Prospects Hockey: #27
TSN/Bob McKenzie: #31
Recruit Scouting: #39
Dobber Prospects: #45
Photo Courtesy of Chicago Steel
This is an interesting one as apart from his defensive awareness, which at times was look away car crash bad, I enjoyed what I saw of Samoskevich. His offensive awareness is top-notch and he’s a player who, when he’s on the ice, you know is there. He’s also one of only a handful of players I saw whose hands moved as quick as his feet leaving oppositions tangled up in their own feet.
While physicality isn’t his game he doesn’t shy away from it. His commitment to the University of Michigan will see him work on his upper body strength without hopefully not taking away from his speed. I have no doubt Mackie, as he is better known, will be an NHL player but I just can’t see it being with the Avalanche.
Draft Pick Projection – Honorable Mentions
Samuel Helenius – Center – JYP ( LIIGA) – 6’6″ – 201 lbs
It’s important to remember that the Avalanche don’t have a second-round pick. Once they come off the board in the first round you will not see them again until pick 92, unless they trade up. Therefore there is a chance they shock everyone with their first-round pick. Step forward Samuel Helenius.
Helenius is very much a defensive forward who would need a massive amount of work in the offensive zone should he make it across to North America. He’s also 6’6” and 201 lbs so he’s not about to be bullied by anybody. Despite his size, his skating isn’t horrible and is a starting point to work with.
Most draft boards have him going late in the second round or early in the third. If the Colorado Avalanche are interested that would mean moving up. Or shocking the world by using your first-round pick on him. It’s not happening but it’s fun to think about.
Samu Salminen – Left-Wing – Jokerit (U20 SM- sarja) – 6’3″ – 190 lbs (Committed to University of Denver)
This is more of a possibility as most draft boards have Salminen going early in the second round. A big two-way center Salminen struggles defensively but is good offensively. His skating is an issue but if anyone can teach him it’s Colorado Avalanche skating coach Shawn Allard. His commitment to the University of Denver makes the possibility of skating classes with Allard a lot smoother too.
Andre Gasseau – Forward – USNTP JUNIORS – 6’4″ – 203 lbs (Committed to Boston College)
Let me preface this by saying it’s not happening or not in the first round at least. If still there at pick number 92 it becomes more of a possibility but considering he’s a California kid I can’t help but hope. He’s also committed to Boston College which the Avalanche know well from Alex Newhook, Drew Helleson, and Colby Ambrosio.
His skating needs to improve along with his shot but his defensive game is strong. He also has no problem playing along the boards and could also fit into the Avalanche’s penalty kill. It’d be nice to have a Cali kid to root for again since the departure of Long Beach Native Matt Nieto at the end of the 2019-20 season and this is my draft pick projection so I’m adding him.
ALL DRAFT PICK DATA GATHERED FROM ELITE PROSPECTS AND ARE CORRECT AS OF 29TH JULY 2021
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