A retrospective glance at the selections made by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft shows that former general manager Fracois Giguere and his team did a an above average job evaluating prospective talent for that season.
Despite striking out with a few risky picks in the late rounds, the Avalanche made their early selections count. Kevin Shattenkirk is a budding young star, T.J. Galiardi is an NHL regular, and Brad Malone, Kent Patterson, and Colby Cohen appear to be on their way to contributing at hockey's most elite level.
After being selected 14th overall, there are likely many teams who drafted ahead of Colorado in 2007 that regret not calling Kevin Shattenkirk's name when they had the opportunity.
For the 2007-08 season, Shattenirk moved to the NCAA where he played at Boston University for three years, winning a national championship in 2009. Following a 29-point campaign with the Terriers in 2009-10, Shattenkirk moved on to Colorado's AHL-affiliated Lake Erie Monsters. Playing just 10 games in the minors during the 2010-11 season proved to be enough, and the Greenwich, Connecticut-native was brought up to the NHL where he has flourished since.
Despite being packaged in a deal to the St. Louis Blues that saw the Avalanche receive former first overall pick Erik Johnson, Shattenkirk totaled nine goals and 34 assists in 72 games as a rookie, and his 43 points were good for tops among first-year defenseman. The plus-17 rating he has accumulated this season places him sixth among NHL rearguards. The swift-skating blueliner has been blessed with tremendous vision and he has a knack for finding and delivering crisp passes to teammates who are in scoring positions.
As Shattenkirk's defensive partner at Boston University, Colby Cohen became an NCAA standout, particularly during his final season in 2009-10 when he netted 14 goals, many of which came courtesy of his blistering slapshot. Cohen even topped Shattenkirk in points during their junior year, accumulating 30 points in 36 games. The highlight of his college career, however, came in 2008-09 when Cohen scored the overtime game winning goal at the Frozen Four National Championship.
His progression since that season has slowed considerably and, unlike his old defensive partner, he has yet to replicate the success he experienced during college at the professional level. After failing to impress during a three game stint with the Avalanche in 2010-11, he was traded to the Boston Bruins. Cohen has spent the majority of the past two seasons with their AHL affiliate, the Providence Bruins, totaling 21 points in 80 games with the club.
At the professional ranks, Trevor Cann has yet to consistently display the stifling performances that made him such a highly touted draft prospect in 2007 playing in the OHL. Undersized, yet athletic and fearless, Cann has all the skills to make the big saves, but he often finds himself amidst stretches of poor play.
Cann has spent the past five years between the OHL, ECHL, CHL and most recently, the AHL. He has been a model of mediocrity this year, and his play to this point is not likely to be rewarded with a promotion to the NHL level. With his contract expiring at the end of the season, Cann is likely to be a casualty of the Avalanche's well-stocked system of young netminders. It is conceivable that another team will offer the once-promising goaltender a minor-league contract.
T.J. Galiardi, LW, Dartmouth College (ECAC) – 2nd Round, 55th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 164
TJ Galiardi was the fourth overager selected in the 2007 draft, and third player to be taken from the NCAA. Blessed with excellent skating ability, Galiardi has an elite set of offensive skills that few other players can match. But after failing to keep up with the education side of college hockey, Galiardi turned to the WHL in 2007-08 to further his development. He notched 70 points in 72 games as a WHL rookie, and then 27 points in 66 games as a first-year AHLer the following year.
He received an NHL promotion full-time in 2009-10, where he tallied 39 points in 70 games as a rookie. However, with the emergence of young stars like Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene and most recently Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog, Galiardi has had to fight for every minute of ice time. He has been juggled throughout the lineup, playing anywhere from first-line wing to third or fourth line center.
Brad Malone is far and away the most physical and aggressive of Colorado's nine selections from the 2007 draft, but his development was far from immediate.
The New Brunswick-native did not start his college career out strong, posting just three points in 34 games during his freshman year at the University of North Dakota in 2007-08. He improved his point totals to 17, 25 and finally 40 over the next three years, and he can currently be found splitting time between the Colorado Avalanche and their AHL-affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. He also helped North Dakota win a pair of WCHA league championships during his college career.
Malone has a unique skill-set that allows him to function as both an agitator and offensive contributor. He has racked up 17 points and 47 minutes in penalties in 35 AHL games this season, and has a pair of assists in nine NHL contests.
The only goaltender selected out of the USHL in 2007, Kent Patterson appears to be worth the gamble. He has arguably been the most reliable goaltender in the Avalanche's system over the past five years, performing at a high level more consistently than the likes of Trevor Cann, Kieran Millan, Calvin Pickard, Sami Aittokallio, Peter Delmas (MTL), and Brandon Maxwell.
After spending another successful season in the USHL after his draft year, Patterson became a member of the University of Minnesota's Golden Gophers, though it took him two years to steal the starting job away from Alex Kangas. He has compiled a .918 save percentage en route to a 33-24-9 record at the collegiate level thus far. With ideal size, ability and a competitive nature, Patterson's NHL outlook is quite positive, and he will likely be signed to a professional contract when his current senior season comes to an end. He can be regarded as somewhat of a value pick given his 113th overall selection.
Paul Carey, C/W, Salisbury School (Connecticut High School) – 5th Round, 135th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Given his relatively late selection, the Avalanche were aware that Carey would be a risk, so for that reason it is difficult to call him a bust. He impressed initially, totaling 66 points in 60 games as a USHL rookie with the Indiana Ice in 2007-08.
But given Carey's extensive repertoire of offensive skills, his NCAA production is rather disappointing. In 128 games over four years, the senior has tallied just 34 goals and 35 assists for 69 points with the Boston College Eagles. This will likely be his fourth straight season below the 30-point mark.
Plagued by inconsistency and defensive shortcomings, Carey's NHL outlook is bleak.
Jens Hellgren was ranked 17th among European skaters by NHL Central Scouting during their final rankings leading up to the 2007 NHL draft, but he currently finds himself playing in the second tier of Swedish professional hockey. Following his draft year, he played one more season of junior hockey in Sweden before moving on to the Allsvenskan, where he has spent the past four years. Until this season, he has only been moderately productive.
Hellgren has already tallied career-highs in all offensive categories in 2011-12. He has 15 points in 36 games, albeit against significantly weaker competition than he would be facing in the Elitserien. The big blueliner's greatest asset is his size. He can move the puck fairly well and plays a physical game that makes him downright nasty at times, but his skills are rather basic in nature. What you see is what you get with Hellgren, and if he were ever to play professionally in North America, it would likely be in a bottom pairing or depth role.
Johan Alcen, D, Brynas (Elitserien) – 7th Round, 195th overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Heading into the 2007 NHL draft, overager Johan Alcen was a relative unknown having been ranked 114th by NHL Central Scouting. Like Hellgren, his progression has been slow.
Alcen is also a big Swede but he only occasionally uses his size to his advantage. After the domination he exhibited in Swedish junior leagues – he registered seven points in a single game back in 2008 – he has yet to put it all together at the professional ranks. The 23-year-old has bounced around various Swedish hockey teams and leagues for the past five years. Despite possessing a heavy, accurate shot, Alcen struggled to produce playing in Sweden's top league, the Elitserien, and now finds himself in the inferior Allsvenskan, where he's compiled 21 points in 38 games this season.