Would Avs Really Pass on Jones?

Seth Jones
It seems the majority of pundits, aficionados and fans have Seth Jones as a lock to go first overall at this summers draft.

It’s not hard to see why. The Portland Winterhawks D man has had a stand out season, winning World Junior gold with Team USA and currently competing for the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.

But Avalanche Chief Scout Rick Pracey told the Denver Post’s Adrian Dater that “It’s by far not a slam dunk.”

As Dater speculates, Pracey may just be saying this because he ‘has to’; to keep ones cards close to the chest as it were. But what are the Avs options? And what does each potential #1 pick offer the franchise?

Seth Jones
Jones is the obvious place to start. The consensus #1 pick and the top ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s prospect list.

As I’ve mentioned before, both on here and on the podcast, he has a hockey/sporting heritage in Denver. He discovered the game in Colorado, watching the Avs whilst his father played in the NBA for the Denver Nuggets. It’s almost like some kind of weird fairytale.

And all that comes without mentioning the fact that Colorado is FRIGGIN’ TERRIBLE defensively and the opportunity to add a franchise D man would be a real boon as the franchise looks to revive its fortunes.

The long and the short of it is that Jones has an upside both on and off the ice, and helps the Avalanche address one of their greatest needs – defence. With Duncan Siemens, also competing the Memorial Cup with Saskatoon Blades, already in the system adding Jones changes the complexion of the defensive corps in Denver almost over night.

Nathan MacKinnon
MacKinnon has been on NHL radar for a long time now. The Nova Scotia native is seen as a slam dunk for whomever selects him. A franchise center to build a team around.

The star center scored 32 goals and 75 points in 44 games for Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL this season. MacKinnon further highlighted his credentials with a hat trick in the Mooseheads memorial Cup clash with Jones’ Winterhawks on Saturday.

For Colorado, the flip side of picking MacKinnon is that the team is already stacked down the middle. Paul Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene have the top three centerman roles locked up at present, and Joey Hishon in the system (if his career isn’t sidelined by head injuries).

Do the Avs opt for MacKinnon then try and move one of the ‘big three’? O’Reilly cannot be dealt before February 28th, but Stastny is entering the last year of his deal, so a move may not be entirely out of the question – perhaps even a move for a defenceman…

Jonathan Drouin
Drouin’s stock may have risen more than any others this season. The young winger scored 41 goals for Halifax during the regular season and had a strong World Junior tournament for Team Canada.

There is also a lack of quality wingers in the Avalanche system. Whilst Gabriel Landeskog’s place is beyond doubt, Milan Hejduk will retire soon (if not this summer then probably next) and whilst Jamie McGinn and Steve Downie are solid NHL players they are hardly what you’d consider elite wingers.

Drouin offers some much needed quality in another area of weakness for the franchise, and might benefit from being paired with someone like Stastny, whose large salary often distracts from the fact he is actually a bloody good player!

Whilst it seems likely Drouin will be selected 3rd overall (after all Tampa Bay knows the value of small, speedy wingers perhaps better than any team in the NHL) he has shown an elite level of talent and will at least get a look from both Colorado and Florida ahead of draft day.

Aleksander Barkov
Like MacKinnon, perhaps the biggest mark against Barkov is that he is a center. The second mark is that MacKinnon would be available to the Avs.

But ‘Sasha’, as he is often refered to, had a strong campaign for Tappara in the SM-Liiga and displayed an ability to play senior hockey and excel – a step some prospects struggle to make.

It’s hard to see Barkov cracking the top three, but the young play makers skill set will keep him in the conversation.

Sean Monahan
Like Barkov, it’s hard to imagine Monahan will pass MacKinnon if Colorado does opt to take a center. But Monahan’s ability on the puck and physical style do make him an intriguing proposition, perhaps most significantly to the Predators who pick 4th.

Darnell Nurse
In a similar vein to Monahan and Barkov, having a ‘superior’ option available in his position means the Sault Ste. Marie is likely to receive more attention from the defensively ‘light weight’ Lightning than the Avs.

Elias Lindholm
Rick Pracey described Lindholm and Monahan as ‘very, very interesting players’. Like Monahan, Lindholm will surely come behind MacKinnon in the pecking order for centers, but his ability to play on the wing may draw the Avs in to taking a closer look.

With the NHL Combine due to start on Monday, the Avs scouting team clearly feels there is further home work to be done on all of the ‘candidates’.

So what do you think? Is Jones the only prospect the Avs should be looking at? Or is MacKinnon to good to pass over?

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About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on May 22, 2013, in Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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