As the Avalanche head into the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia this evening, a different mood surrounds the club from a year ago. The team is coming off a surprising season in which it captured the Central Division title and the spotlight of their draft position is dulled going from the 1st overall selection to pick number 23.
In fact, heading into the draft, bigger questions regarding two free agent forwards have occupied the focus of fans and media alike. Rightfully so; as the player selected by Colorado tonight will unlikely be suiting up in an Avs uniform in October. Not unlike most teams, the Avalanche will look to add a "highly skilled character" player to their prospect ranks (a phrase that will no doubt be heard dozens of times this weekend).
Still, the draft is always an exciting time, especially for the players selected, and this weekend's event will be no different. Plus the trades! Outside of the NHL Trade Deadline, the NHL Entry Draft typically features a plethora of deals (some of the mind numbing variety).
With that in mind, the Avs enter this weekend's draft with seven picks in hand. Besides their first round selection, Colorado has picks in the third, fourth (2), fifth, sixth and seventh rounds. The Avs second round pick belongs to the Calgary Flames, which they exchanged for goaltender Reto Berra at the trade deadline this past spring. The additional fourth round selection comes courtesy of a deal in April of 2013, when the Avs shipped defenseman Ryan O'Byrne to the Toronto Maple Leafs
TSN.ca's most recent mock draft has the Avs taking Swedish forward Adrian Kempe.
Excellent skater with speed and quickness and he uses it to get to openings and back off defenders. Excellent sense for the game and what is necessary and with his multitude of talents, he can deliver. A team player through and through. -- Craig Button, TSN Director of Scouting
First round coverage of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft will be available on Friday, starting at 5:00 PM MST, on TSN (Canada) and the NBC Sports Network (US). Coverage for rounds 2-7 kicks off at 8:00 AM MST on Saturday on the NHL Network (Canada/ US).
Draft Picks for Colorado:
Round 1 - 23rd overall
Round 3 - 84th overall
Round 4 - 93rd overall
Round 4 - 114th overall
Round 5 - 144th overall
Round 6 - 174th overall
Round 7 - 204th overall