Welcome to our annual 31-in-31 Summer Series here at DobberProspects! Every day in July we will be bringing you a complete breakdown of a team’s draft, notes from their development camp, and insights into their off-season moves so far. Following this up, the August 31-in-31 Series will dive into every team’s prospect depth charts with fantasy insights and implications for the upcoming seasons. Check in often, because we plan on filling your hockey withdrawal needs all summer long!
The Avalanche set themselves up extremely well for the 2019 NHL Draft thanks to the not-yet-forgotten Matt Duchene trade that landed them the 4th-overall pick. They held 5 picks in the first three rounds of the draft, meaning that Colorado has re-stocked their cupboard and there is a wealth of new blood for fantasy owners to dig into.
Round 1, 4th overall: Bowen Byram, LD
In Byram, The Avalanche picked the consensus best d-man in the draft, who on thinner squads would become an immediate 3rd-pairing option this fall. He played huge minutes in the WHL, has the size to play against men, and produced at a point-per-game rate in both the regular season and postseason (where he led the bracket in points). He is a strong enough skater to move the puck out or create chances on his own rather than defer to passing, but he reads and anticipates plays well enough that he puts up nice assists as well. His totals are a result of a diverse toolbox. His physical game isn’t his forte, but it’s also not necessarily a weakness. Colorado fans should be ecstatic about this pick, as he projects to be a top-pairing d-man, and a top-four in the very near future. Given the current blueline depth however, he is not a lock to see more than an audition this fall.
Round 1, 16th overall: Alex Newhook, C
With their own pick in the first round, the Avs wasted no time selecting Newhook, an offensive dynamo out of the BCHL. His 102 points in 53 games are impressive, but the lower-tier competition compared to other draftees gave some scouts a pause. Avalanche fans in particular may already be hearing alarm bells ringing “Tyson Jost Tyson Jost”, and rightfully so. However, his talent is undeniable and his upside is enormous, and he has proven in the U18 tournament that he remains a 200-foot force even against tougher opponents. He has committed to Boston College for 2019-20, and we will get to see for ourselves how the smooth-skating pivot fares with less ice time and against more challenging squads. He has the potential to be a one-and-done college player, but after Jost’s slower-than-hoped development, management may decide to play it safe, so don’t bank on him playing in Burgundy too soon.
Round 2, 47th overall: Drew Helleson, RD
Another Boston College commit, Helleson is a tower on the back end. On paper he is a defense-first blueliner but he was relatively buried on a strong USDP which means there could very well be more upside than we know. He can read plays well and use his size and stick to close off attackers, although he’s not necessarily a big hitter. Being extremely deep on young defenseman means that the organization has no need to rush Helleson at all, meaning he is a strong candidate to play at least a couple of years in the NCAA before turning pro. Wait and see what kind of fantasy upside he shows us in college before drafting.
Round 3, 63rd overall: Matthew Stienburg, C
Rated as a potential 4th-5th round target, Colorado selecting Stienburg in the 3rd round raised some eyebrows. He scored regularly at the high school level in 2018-19, and has committed to Cornell for 2019-20 where we can expect a learning curve to kick into effect. He has lots to prove but the Avs clearly see potential in the centerman despite his lack of tough competition.
Round 3, 78th overall: Alex Beaucage, RW
Beaucage is a pick that was applauded by fans everywhere. Putting up 39 goals in 68 as a QMJHL sophomore is no joke, and as a prospect at the very young end of the draft he has lots of time to round out his game. He’s got a strong shot and a pro body (6’2” and 192lbs as a 17-year-old), but he played on a stacked line which raises questions about whether he is a play driver or just a complimentary piece. Either way, he’s a proven scorer with a very high ceiling and could pop up on fantasy radars soon.
Round 5, 140th overall: Sasha Mutala, RW
A late-season fader, Mutala has shown good point production paces in bursts, meaning there is untapped upside. Known more for his forechecking and speedy game, he is a useful and reliable player in all zones to create and disrupt plays. His upside likely maxes out as a bottom-six forward, and he won’t be earning and fantasy waivers yet as he returns to the WHL in 2019-20. With a breakout campaign, he can earn some more love.
Round 5, 171st overall: Luka Burzan RW
In his third WHL season, Burzan exploded from 15 to 40 goals, and 40 to 78 points, which may explain him now being drafted in his second year of eligibility. His 6’1” and now 190 lb frame may have had a part of his newfound ability to control play, but as only 18 years old (January birthday) it’s still earlier in his career than a typical “over-ager” effect we see. Burzan appears to be a creative offensive driver, but as expected from a 5th-rounder he is very raw so don’t go betting on him to be a fantasy asset for several years. Thatbeing said, high-upside swings in the later rounds are usually fine picks so Colorado did ok here.
Round 6, 202nd overall: Trent Miner G
A backup goalie in junior, Miner will have the chance to be evaluated more as he ages and (hopefully) earns more starts in the WHL. His numbers are good, but so was the team in front of him. He’s not particularly tall for a goalie these days, which may give him a glass ceiling.
The Avalanche invited the following prospects to development camp:
The most noteworthy takeaway from dev camp was the participation of Conor Timmins. This time last year he was considered an NHL-ready prospect, fresh off a Team Canada championship. Concussion symptoms completed killed his 2018-19 season, and this was his first full-contact action in close to a calendar year. He may have fallen off some fantasy radars, but will be showing up again soon by the looks of it, despite not yet being officially “100% cleared” according to the team.
Brandon Saigeon getting an invite and standing out is promising for him, as he still needs a contract for the upcoming season after aging-out of the OHL. He may have to settle for an AHL deal.
As should be expected, the high-skill guys stood out most in drills. Good fan hype generated for names like Byram, Newhook, Saigeon, Shane Bowers, Igor Shvyrev, and Sampo Ranta.
Out: Soderberg, Kerfoot, Andrighetto, Barrie, Nemeth
In: Kadri, Rosen, Donskoi, Bellemare, Burakovsky, Connauton
The Avs worked hard to give themselves offensive depth behind the top line that has carried the team on its back for two years. This is both good and bad news for Tyson Jost – who is now unlikely to be a 2C, but will have much better linemates to work with as either 2LW, 3C, or 3LW. He may not see an increase in TOI relative to the playoffs, but he should see a more-than-fair chance to prove himself to be an NHL point producer.
Similar sentiments for bubble players like Vladislav Kamenev and AJ Greer, who now have worse chances to crack the 4th line, but should have more offensive success than in previous years should they land the gig.
On defence, moving out Barrie indicates that the team believes Makar and Girard will provide enough offense to go around. With Zadorov re-signed, the left side current boasts big Z, Sam Girard, Ian Cole, Mark Barberio, and Kevin Connauton. Cole will miss some time with injuries, but that still isn’t a great outlook for Calle Rosen or Bowen Byram, both of whom are worthy of a chance based on their talent levels. Hopefully we see a brief tryout period of each.
Luckily, the right side is much more barren, boasting only Erik Johnson and Cale Makar as natural righties. This means more potential room for Rosen on Byram if someone plays on the off-side, but it also opens the door for Conor Timmins should he see a full recovery quickly.
Next month’s 31-in-31 prospect depth chart series will give a deeper look into the options at all positions, or you can check out the Colorado team page here:
Thank you for reading. You can check out my work on the Colorado and Toronto team pages, weekly DobberProspect Ramblings, and on Twitter.
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