2020 Colorado Avalanche Draft Reaction

Colorado Avalanche Draft

The Colorado Avalanche have completed their selections in the 2020 NHL Draft. The team made five selections this year. That was a decrease from the eight picks they made in the 2019 Draft but much of that was due to trades. Colorado sent its original second-round pick to the Washington Capitals for Andre Burakovsky, its third to the Florida Panthers for Derick Brassard, and its sixth to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the big Nazem Kadri trade. The reacquired several picks back in other trades but they were still limited in the number of quality selections. However, the team still found good value for what they had. Read here for 2019 reactions. Also, check out prospect expert Ben Kerr’s prospect reports for 2020 here.

Colorado Avalanche 2020 Draft Reaction

Round 1

The Avalanche didn’t pick until 25th overall this year due to strong results in 2018-19. The farm system is packed with talent, which gave the team a luxury of flexibility in its selection. There were several strong possibilities for the pick but Colorado ultimately chose defenceman Justin Barron from the QMJHL’s Halifax program.¬† Barron battled a blood clot issue in his shoulder which required surgery. This surgery is expected to bar him from play for just a little bit of time to start the 2020-21 season but hopes remain high. If all goes well, the surgery will help prevent any-and-all future worry of blood clots in his shoulder.

The Avs’ first pick looks like a strong addition for the future. He stands a sturdy 6’2″, 195-pounds and has strong skating abilities. He seems like an ideal fit for Colorado’s system as a defender that can both drive offence and play thought defensive minutes. There will be concerns about his health moving forward but he could be a top-four player in the future with his tools. Barron could be well worth the first round selection in the future.

Round 3

This was a pick originally sent to Washington but reacquired from Toronto in 2019. They used it to select forward Jean-Luc Foudy. This pick is the younger brother of current Columbus Blue Jackets forward Liam Foudy. That is already an interesting pedigree for someone selected 75th overall.

The younger Foudy scored 15 goals and 43 points in 59 points for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. He has average size at just 5’11”, 177-pounds but is a blazing-fast skater. His skills project as someone who can produce on offence but will probably be a top playmaker while centering a line. It will be interesting to see how he competes for a top-nine spot in the future considering Colorado’s depth down the middle.

Of course, there’s concern as to whether Foudy will be able to hold on to a centre-role in a professional setting. The 18-year-old has blazing speed and good defensive abilities but needs to improve in the faceoff circle and positionally before his worthiness at centre can gain the confidence of an NHL team. He’s a fine addition even if he moves to the wings, though, with his speed likely helping him in transition quite a bit. With work to his hands and shot, Foudy could become a notable offensive talent; although significant improvements are likely to be needed if he wants to crack an NHL top-six.

Round 4

The closest thing to a steal among Colorado’s selections was the 118th overall selection of centre Colby Ambrosio. The team’s third pick of the draft is listed as 5’9″, 169 pounds after a second season with the UHLS’s Tri-City Storm. Ambrosio was a strong scorer in 2019-20 with 26 goals and 50 points in 48 games. He has strong skating ability and understands how to use his size to his advantage. He was very hard to knock off the puck thanks to his low centre of gravity and sheer energy. Obviously, people will wonder if such a diminutive player can make a difference but this looks like a very strong late pick. There are many concerns with his creativity, consistency, and overall hockey IQ. While he boasts a good two-way game, he needs to round out the edges before rivaling the NHL. Luckily, playing in the NCAA, with the stacked lineup of Boston College, could help streamline that learning curve.

Round 5

The Avs actually traded up for this pick by sending a later fifth-round selection and a seventh to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’d go on to pick forward Ryder Rolston. He was the team’s second pick from the USHL as Rolston was a member of the league’s Waterloo Blackhawks in 2019-20.

He is a solidly-built wing standing 6’1″, 175-pounds. His scoring was modest in the past season at 16 goals and 33 points in 42 games for Waterloo. Rolston has top speed and uses that to great effect on the edges and in the corners. The speed allows him to get past defenders quickly so he can drive to the net. His physical game isn’t the strongest so he’ll probably end up with tough two-way line partners that can distribute and clear paths for his developing shot. His ceiling would be a bottom-six role in the NHL, with a penalty killing upside. But he needs to battle to improve to earn that role.

Round 6

This was the one selection not on any popular public prospect board. Colorado went with Swedish 20-year-old Nils Aman 137th overall to round out the draft class. He is old for the draft class but stands 6’2″ and comes off reasonable production in 2019-20. Aman played for Leksands u20 in Sweden’s U20 SuperElit, now known as the U20 Nationall, league and posted 14 goals and 47 points in 30 games. There isn’t a lot of public data on the European but he has the physical dimensions and has done well in Sweden. He’s a mainstay in Sweden’s professional league this season, where is development is sure to churn along. He’s a hard working, two-way centre with a nice scoring touch. Still, his journey to the NHL is going to be tedious to say the least, especially with his age.

Overall Thoughts

This was obviously not Colorado’s strongest class ever. The lack of picks both in terms of quality and volume made it very difficult to equal 2019’s haul. However, the team did select a few players of interest in Barron, Foudy and Ambrosio. Each of them have had controversy surrounding them, with Barron’s health, Foudy’s assets outside of his skill, and Ambrosio’s consistency being of note. It’s little battles for each player, as they learn to develop a not-yet complete skillset. But there is some NHL upside in the draft class. Even Rolston and Aman are fine selections with developing tools.

If there is any concern over this group, other than how they’ll develop, it is that it lacks a certain variety. It is very heavy on the centre position, pending Foudy or Ambrosio¬† shifting to the wing in a pro setting. Last year’s group saw a mix of potential offensive stars, quality depth, and a goalie. Colorado can certainly add defensive or goaltending depth via other means but it is still interesting to see those positions mostly forgotten in 2020. The good thing is that Colorado is fairly stacked at almost every position in its farm system. A focus on offensive forwards shouldn’t impact things too much.

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