The Avalanche had themselves an exceptionally strong year when it comes to selecting the newest crop of prospects. Eight new faces will call themselves members of Colorado’s farm system, which already boasts the likes of Martin Kaut, the #18 pick in the 2018 Draft, Shane Bowers, as well as a few other young players who have seen time at the NHL level already.
Reviewing the Colorado Avalanche 2019 Draft
The Avs started off with a bang selecting top defense prospect Bowen Byram fourth overall. The 6’1″ left-shooting defender had a great season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and slots in as a top-four defenceman for the team as early as the upcoming season. Byram joins a scary blueline group that includes (for now) Tyson Barrie, Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Nikita Zadorov, Erik Johnson, and potential regulars Conor Timmons and Ryan Graves. That is a strong core, even if one or two leave over the summer via trade or free agency.
Joe Sakic wasn’t done after his first pick, however. At 16 he grabbed BCHL dynamo Alex Newhook. The Newfoundlander tore up British Columbia to the tune of 126 points over 68 regular season and playoff games. Despite questions about his level of competition, the 5’11” center has the skating and puck skills to excel as a second line center behind Nathan MacKinnon. This was a fantastic follow-up to the Byram pick. Newhook will play for Boston College in 2019-2020.
The Avs surprised a bit when they selected Drew Helleson from the USNTDP with their third selection. The 6’3″, 194 pound right-handed shot was a fine contributor with 23 points in 64 games this year, but was buried on a generational American team; he scored 40 points in 61 games with the U-17 squad. He will also attend Boston College with Newhook next year.
It was a bit surprising that Colorado went for more blueline help when wingers such as Nicholas Robertson, Robert Mastrosimone, and Brett Leason were all still available. If the defence was that high of a priority, Vladislav Kolyachonok was a more highly thought of prospect by most draft analysts. There is no doubt that Colorado did their homework on Helleson, but this seems like a slight reach for a guy whose ceiling seems to be on the third pairing.
Colorado led off the third round by selecting St. Andrew’s center Matthew Stienburg. A good-sized prospect at 6’1″, 185 lbs, Stienberg scored 75 points in 56 games in 2018-2019. He’ll attend Cornell College in the fall and has room to develop; he will turn 19 in October. The pick that became Stienburg is one of the final pieces from the trade that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa two years ago. Right wings Albin Grewe and Patrik Puistola may have been much stronger picks at this point.
The team’s fifth selection was a bit more well-known and exciting. Alex Beaucage had a solid campaign for Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL with 79 points in 68 games. He also contributed 16 points in 16 postseason games. The exciting thing about Beaucage is that he is 6’2″ and 192 pounds at just 17 years old. He won’t turn 18 until July. Some detailed scouting reports don’t like his skating, but if that gets corrected he could challenge for a top-six role in several years.
Rounds 5 & 6:
Two later rounds produced players not seen on many lists pre-draft. Wingers Sasha Mutala and Luka Burzan both stand 6’0″, with former weighing in around 200 pounds and Burzan at 184. Mutala scored 41 points in 65 games with Tri-City (WHL) in 2018-2019. He seems like someone suited for a depth line role and time on the penalty kill.
Burzan was more dynamic offensively with 78 points in 68 games with Brandon in the WHL, but some of that was certainly due to his being 19 and in his second year of draft eligibility. The Wheat Kings forward will need to prove his numbers weren’t inflated based on his age if he’s to have a shot at cracking a future roster.
The final round doesn’t typically produce a ton of potential value, but that wasn’t true this year when Colorado selected goalie prospect Trent Miner with their final pick (202nd overall). A teammate of Byram, Miner played in 32 regular season contests with Vancouver and posted a 1.98 goals-against-average and a .924 save percentage. His numbers dipped in the playoffs when the Giants leaned on the slightly older David Tendeck. Miner stands just 6’1″, but his numbers were great and scouting reports love his mental abilities. It doesn’t hurt being a teammate of the team’s top selections either.
As good as Miner seems, Dustin Wolf could have been the pick in the 7th round if not earlier. The Everett Silvertips backstop took over from Carter Hart and owned the competition with a 1.69 goals-against-average and a .936 save percentage in 61 regular season games. The only thing counting against Wolf is really his 6’0″ height, a big negative in today’s modern NHL. He ended up going to Calgary later, but he should have gone much earlier based on his results and the thoughts of many scouting services.
Colorado had an exceptionally strong draft that should rate amongst the top five this year. The combination of Byram and Newhook is elite among early round selections. Helleson’s selection may be questioned when there were other forwards on the board, but is not bad value. Beaucage has a high ceiling and is a great value pick. Miner is small but could compete for a role in the future. Stienburg, Mutala and Burzan all look like players who can provide depth and work on special teams if they make the NHL squad.
KELOWNA, BC – FEBRUARY 7: Bowen Byram #44 of the Vancouver Giants skates with the puck against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on February 7, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)