Colorado Avalanche 2002 Draft Review

By Brandon LeBourveau
Heading into the 2002 Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche were in pretty good shape as far as their picks were concerned. Coming off of an embarrassing game 7 meltdown in the Western Conference finals at the hands of the eventual champion Detroit Red Wings, the Avalanche looked at the draft as an opportunity to make the rich even richer. Over the last decade the Avalanche have been very successful at the draft table, almost year after year selecting three or four players who would eventually make the NHL and have an impact. When people talk about what teams are consistently the best at drafting, the Avalanche are always one of the first mentioned.

Any team that is able to draft players such as Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk, Mark Parrish, Tomi Kallio, Brent Johnson, David Aebischer and Radim Vrbata, to name a few, from the third round and later are certainly doing something right. For a team with as good of a drafting record as the Avalanche, along with that comes the pressure from the fans and the media to duplicate their excelent drafting year after year. That drafting success has won them two Stanley Cups in the past seven years and the distinct possibility of winning a couple more over the next few seasons. Could the Avalanche possibly come out of the 2002 Draft with a few more steals to add to their record? Well, in the opinion of this writer, they did just that. Here is an analysis of each player selected by Colorado this past weekend at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto…

1st Round (28th Overall):
Name: Jonas Johansson
Position: Forward
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: 3/18/1984
Height/Weight: 6’1 180 lbs.
Previous Team: HV-71 (J-20 SuperElit)
CSS Rank: #19 Euro

Jonas Johansson is a highly skilled Swedish winger who is going to fit right into Colorado’s line-up in a few years. Johansson is a smart player who plays a two-way game. He plays well in both ends of the rink and shows good defensive responsibility and awareness. The best assets to his game are his speed and his offensive ability. He’s a very solid skater with good speed, agility and lateral movement. He has displayed the ability to be both a sniper and a playmaker. A natural scorer, Johansson dominated Sweden’s junior league, the J-20 SuperElit, with 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 points in 26 games for HV-71. He appeared in 6 games with HV-71’s Elite League club, but failed to register any points despite only seeing a limited amount of ice time. Jonas will likely play full time next season in the Swedish Elite League, which will only further help him develop. At 180 lbs, Johansson will need to bulk up and improve his strength to be more effective at the NHL level. His work-ethic and physical game are also going to need some improvement. Expect him to remain in Sweden for another two to three years before attempting to make the NHL. Johansson has a lot of raw potential and a few years of playing against men in the Swedish Elite League will only improve his chances of making the NHL. A very nice selection by the Avalanche.
NHL Potential: Two-way, 2nd line Forward with the ability to score

2nd Round (61st Overall):
Name: Johnny Boychuk
Position: Defense
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: 1/19/1984
Height/Weight: 6’2 205 lbs.
Previous Team: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
CSS Rank: #51 N.A.

It is surprising by some to see that Johnny Boychuk fell all the way to the second round, and this could be another example of the Avalanche picking up solid players beyond the first round of the draft. Boychuk was ranked 51st among North Americans by Central Scouting leading up to the draft but was projected to be a late 1st round/early 2nd round selection by most people. At 6’2 and 205 lbs, Johnny Boychuk is a talented, two-way defenseman with a booming shot. Although he hasn’t scored much in juniors, his shot is a nice weapon and has been clocked many times in the mid-to high 90’s. He has improved his offensive output over the last few seasons, this year totaling 40 points in 70 games for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL. Boychuk plays well at both ends of the ice but his defensive positioning and coverage is something that he will have to continue to work on while developing in the WHL. He’s a good skater and has a nice overall set of skills but is still raw and is a few years away from making the NHL. He plays a risky game, but is a good prospect and a solid selection by the Avs.
NHL Potential: Top 4 two-way Defenseman

3rd Round (94th overall):
Name: Eric Lundberg
Position: Defense
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: 4/13/1983
Height/Weight: 6’3 200 lbs.
Previous Team: Providence College (Hockey East)
CSS Rank: #68 N.A.

Eric Lundberg is a stay-at-home defenseman who recorded 9 assists in 36 games for the Providence College Friars this past season as a sophomore. Lundberg plays a simple game and is sound defensively. He has displayed good leadership qualities on and off the ice as well, serving as captain of the New England Coyotes of the EJHL in 2000-01 prior to joining Providence. Eric is one of those players who just goes out and plays the game. He gives his best effort each night and is a physical, competitive player. He’s well liked and respected by his teammates and has a solid work-ethic. He’ll likely finish out his two years of college eligibility that still remains before graduating to the pro ranks. He was a good, safe pick by the Avalance at 94th overall.
NHL Potential: Top 6 stay-at-home Defenseman

4th Round (107th Overall):
Name: Mikko Kalteva
Position: Defense
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 5/25/1984
Height/Weight: 6’3 187 lbs.
Previous Team: Jokerit Helsinki (Finland Jrs.)
CSS Rank: #33 Euro

With the compensatory pick received for losing defenseman Jon Klemm to free agency last summer, the Avalanche selected defenseman Mikko Kalteva from Finland. In 29 games this past season for Jokerit Helsinki in Finland’s junior league, Kalteva registered 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points and 10 penalty minutes. A participant for Finland in the 2002 World Junior Under-18 Championships as well, Kalteva went scoreless in 7 games during the tournament with 6 penalty minutes and a +4. Kalteva is a tall and lanky defenseman who plays a stay-at-home game. He will remain in Finland for a couple of more years where he will continue to bulk up and improve his strength en route to a possible spot in the NHL some day.
NHL Potential: Top 6 Defenseman

4th Round (129th Overall):
Name: Tom Gilbert
Position: Defense
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: 1/10/1983
Height/Weight: 6’2 190 lbs.
Previous Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)
CSS Rank: #45 N.A.

Tom Gilbert is a two-way defenseman with good offensive ability. He finished 11th in scoring among defenseman in the USHL last season with 28 points in 57 games, and first in goals with 13. Gilbert is a good skater with the ability to lead the offensive rush up the ice. He has a hard, accurate shot from the point and controls the puck well. In his own zone, Gilbert is physical and very good defensively. He uses his long reach to his advantage and is a very good poke checker. Is a very competitve player and plays in all game situations. He’s still a few years away, as he has committed to a solid program at the University of Wisconsin for next season. Although it’s a longshot, in four years Gilbert may turn into a Jordan Leopold type of player.
NHL Potential: Top 6 two-way Defenseman

5th Round (164th Overall):
Name: Tyler Weiman
Position: Goaltender
Catches: Left
Birthdate: 6/5/1984
Height/Weight: 5’11 160 lbs.
Previous Team: Tri-City Americans (WHL)
CSS Rank: #14 N.A. Goalies

The biggest problem Tyler Weiman has faced throughout his career has been his consistency. Some nights this kid will flat out win a game on his own, while on other nights he’ll look like an average goaltender at best. He has the talent and potential to have a bright future but he needs to learn how to do it on a consistent basis. He has good height at 5’11, although he could add some more weight and strength to his 160 pound frame. The Avs will be patient with him and allow him as much time as he needs to mature and develop.
NHL Potential: High-end minor leaguer/NHL backup

6th Round (195th Overall):
Name: Taylor Christie
Position: Defense
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 1/2/1983
Height/Weight: 6’3 210 lbs.
Previous Team: Bowling Green (CCHA)
CSS Rank: Not Ranked

Taylor Christie is another stay-at-home defenseman drafted by the Avalanche this year. There’s not much offense to his game, but he is very solid and sound defensively. He plays physical, uses his size well and makes sure that he doesn’t get caught out of position. Will remain in college for the next few years to further mature and improve his overall game.
NHL Potential: Top 6, Stay-at-home Defenseman

7th Round (227th Overall):
Name: Ryan Steeves
Position: Center/Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 12/31/1982
Height/Weight: 6’0 195 lbs.
Previous Team: Yale University (ECAC)
CSS Rank: #60 N.A.

After finishing his freshman season with only 3 goals and 4 points in 21 games two years ago, Ryan Steeves put up a stronger campaign this past season, his sophomore year, with 9 goals and 21 points in 29 games. A teammate of Montreal Canadiens’ 1st round pick Christopher Higgins at Yale, Steeves is a two-way center with the ability to score some goals and be solid defensively. He’s physical, gritty and extremely competitive. He’s got a good shot and is dangerous once he’s in close. He’s a project, but I see a lot of similarities in him and Steve Moore, another Avalanche prospect.
NHL Potential: 3rd/4th Line, Two-way forward

8th Round (258th Overall):
Name: Sergei Shemetov
Position: Left/Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 9/3/1984
Height/Weight: 6’1 174 lbs.
Previous Team: Yaroslavl (Russia)
CSS Rank: #41 Euro

In my opinion, the Avalanche got themselves a steal in the 8th round with the selection of Russian forward Sergei Shemetov. He was being touted by many as a 2nd or 3rd round pick leading up to the draft. According to HF’s Russian correspondent Eugene Belashchenko, Shemetov “crashes the crease and actively tries to put in the rebound” and “is a swift skater with great acceleration. He uses his speed well to create scoring chances for himself and his teammates.”

NHL Potential: 3rd Line forward with some offensive potential

9th Round (289th Overall):
Name: Sean Collins
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: 2/9/1983
Height/Weight: 5’9 177 lbs.
Previous Team: University of New Hampshire (Hockey East)
CSS Rank: #91 N.A.

I only have one word to describe this selection: Wow. Sean Collins has as much talent as players drafted in the 2nd and 3rd rounds of this draft. However, there are two reasons why he fell to the 9th round: 5’9 and 177 lbs. I’d be willing to bet that if Collins was 6’0 200 lbs he would have been a 2nd round pick. In 39 games this past season with the University of New Hampshire Wild Cats, Collins scored 19 goals and totaled 44 points. He’s got good speed and a very high overall skill level. If his size doesn’t hold him back, I think he could be a decent offensive player in the NHL some day. Collins reminds me of three other smaller collegians who fell in their draft year because of their size, or lack thereof, with those players being Michael York, Brendan Morrison and Mike Comrie. Collins could wind up being mentioned in the same breath as those guys but he’ll have to keep working hard and refuse to be intimidated. One thing that York, Morrison and Comrie all have in common are a big heart and a great work-ethic. Time will tell but this was a magnificent selection by the Avalanche, considering that they drafted themselves a potential solid NHL player with the third to last pick in this draft.

NHL Potential: 2nd line Playmaker

Overall, I feel the Avalanche continued their excellent drafting success and put forth a solid overall effort. All in all, they drafted four forwards, five defensemen and 1 goaltender. In my opinion the best players that will come out of this draft for the Avalanche will be their first two and last two selections, those guys being Jonas Johansson, Johnny Boychuk, Sergei Shemetov and Sean Collins.

Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments.

Brandon LeBourveau
Hockey’s Future