Last year’s NHL draft was like hitting the lottery for the Colorado Avalanche, which picked up Matt Duchene third overall and Ryan O’Reilly 33rd overall. Both men turned out to be franchise players and are at the core of the Avalanche’s rebuilding efforts after playing significant roles in the team’s renaissance last season. This year, the Avalanche start the draft with the 17th overall pick, but it’s not clear who will claim the spot.
The Denver Post thinks if the Avalanche take the best player on the board regardless of position, Emerson Etem may be the guy. Etem, a center, is considered possibly the fastest player in the draft by hockey scouts. The YouTube video below shows off his skills, and he looks like he’d be a solid addition to the youth movement the Avs seem to be pursuing.
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Avalanche director of scouting Rick Pracey tells The Associated Press the team’s desire to build through the draft and go with younger players is paying off: “That instant success [with Duchene and O’Reilly] tells us we’re on the right path.” No matter which seven draft picks the team selects on Friday, hockey fans in Denver aren’t likely to see any of them on the ice early on.
Most rookies end up developing in the minors before coming to the Avalanche—Duchene and O’Reilly notwithstanding—and the NHL’s recently released schedule shows the Avs on the road for nine of the first 16 games of the year (via The Denver Post). But the season should start off with a bang October 7 at the Pepsi Center, with the Avs hosting the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks.