Avalanche draft review

By Dario Ronzone





David Liffiton

David Liffiton
(Colorado’s first selection, 63rd overall)
Defenseman
Shoots Left
6’1″, 200 lbs.
Born: October 18, 1984 in Windsor, Ontario

For the second year in a row the Avalanche chose to draft a defenseman in the
second round of the draft, bringing an already impressive defensive prospect
core to the brim with top talent. Liffiton differs significantly from the offensive
minded blue liners the Avalanche have targeted with top picks in the past like
Boychuk and Skoula. Liffiton is a stay at home style defenseman. “I’m not afraid
to throw the body around”, said Liffiton. “Hopefully, I’d like to be an Adam
Foote-type one day.” He’s scouted as a solid positional player that will play
a physical game including blocking shots, clearing the front of the net and
finishing his checks. Liffiton will not be intimidated and has a team leading
13 fights last year to prove it. Liffiton is no goon however, he’s skilled with
good speed, strong skating and makes a good first pass. In the recent top prospect
skills challenge for the CHL, Liffiton scored 17.729 in puck control (6th
among defensemen) and won the Al Macinnis Hardest Shot Award with an average
93.8 mph shot.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Plymouth (OHL)

64

5

11

16

139

2001-02

Plymouth (OHL)

62

3

9

12

65

“It’s pretty seldom you’d go see Plymouth play and not notice Liffiton playing well,” said Frank Bonello, director of NHL Central Scouting. “He catches your eye.”

“He can best be described as a very solid, stay-at-home defenseman who has a lot of composure,” Avs head scout Jim Hammett said. “He’s a good skater with speed and agility. He’s very conscientious in his own zone. He’s very tough to beat in his zone and shows very good hockey sense.”

“David came into camp two years ago without anybody really knowing who he was
and he has done nothing but continue to impress his coaches, teammates and fans
with his hard-nosed style of play,” General Manager/Head Coach of the Plymouth
Whalers, Mike Vellucci said. “He is a kid who is still growing and is getting
better each day. He is a stay at home defenseman who never seems to make a mistake.”

Projection: Top 4 defenseman, leadership role

David Svagrovsky
(Colorado’s second selection, 131st overall)
Right Wing
Shoots Right
6’3″, 200 lbs.
Born: December 21, 1984 in Prague, Czech Republic

The Avalanche were able to pick up a big talented forward with their second
selection. Svagrovsky is a tall winger who uses his reach to his advantage.
He has nice touch on his wrist shot and has those coveted Czech hands. For his
first year on North American ice and the traditionally longer development of
big forwards, Svagrovsky showed excellent production for a WHL rookie. He was
the Seattle Thunderbirds Rookie of the Year in 2002-03. Svagrovsky was moved
onto the first team power-play unit early in the season for his shot and it
worked well. . Svagrovsky can hit when needed and can handle the puck. In the
playoffs he had 10 points on four goals and six assists. He scored the overtime
game-winner in Game 5 against the Kootenay Ice to send Seattle to the Western
Conference Finals.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Seattle (WHL)

68

17

25

42

47

2001-02

Slava Prague Jr.

48

15

15

30

N/A

Head coach Dean Chynoweth of the Seattle Thunderbirds told Hockey’s Future (HF), “David is a big strong power forward type that uses his size and strength to his advantage. He is very good down low and in the corners at holding onto the puck or taking it to the net. He has good hands, sees the ice well and shoots the puck very well. His skating has improved and should continue to considering his work ethic. Defensively, David is continuing to learn the North American game and has shown vast improvements from the start of last season.”

Seattle’s General Manager Russ Farwell also told HF, “David is a very good prospect because of the style of his game. He is good down low in the corners and his skills and shot allow him to generate offense from the corners both scoring and playmaking. His skating improved all year and he will be able to bring his skating to whatever level he needs to play. He has a pro style game and the attitude of a winner.”

“Svags has been really good. He has stepped up. He’s a big guy and he can really
shoot that puck,” said teammate Steven Goertzen.

Here are some videos of Svagrovsky:

Video 1. See the last goal. Some demonstration of his hands and touch.
Video 2. See the first goal, wrister from the point. Demonstration of accuracy, patience with the puck.
Video 3. See third goal for demonstration of the power of the wrist shot. (More videos of can be found at www.seattle-thunderbirds.com.)

Projection: 3rd to 2nd line power forward.

Mark McCutcheon
(Colorado’s third selection, 146th overall)
Center
Shoots Right
6’0″, 180 lbs.
Born: May 21, 1984 in Ithaca, New York

McCutcheon comes from the same junior club as Bill Guerin and current Avalanche
prospect Eric Lundberg where he has worked with top developmental coaches Lincoln
Flagg and Gary Dineen. McCutcheon had a final Central Scouting rank of 62. He’s
a rugged winger with very good to excellent hands and a knack for scoring huge
goals. Son of Buffalo Sabres assistant Brian McCutcheon, hockey runs in the
family. Mark will follow in his father’s footsteps by attending Cornell in the
fall.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Jr. Coyotes (EJHL)

45

36

27

63

100

2001-02

Jr. Coyotes (EJHL)

36

24

26

50

84

A source familiar with his play told Hockey’s Future, “Mark is a great competitor
who has a knack for scoring big goals and has special hands. His skating may
hold him back a bit at the higher levels, but somehow, so far, he always seems
to get where he needs to be. He is chippy and sometimes he takes it over the
top with that, but he will adjust in college.”

“His skill level is certainly there,” father Brian McCutcheon said. “He just
needs to fill out, get a little bigger, a little stronger. He’s a late bloomer
when it comes to physical maturity. Intellectually he’s very mature, but the
physical part could take three or four years.”

Projection: Physical 4th line two-way centerman.

Brad Richardson
(Colorado’s fourth selection, 163rd overall)
Center
Shoots Left
5’11″, 170 lbs.
Born: February 4, 1985 in Belleville, Ontario

Ranked 108th by the midterm rankings by Central Scouting, he vaulted
to 77th in the final rankings for domestic players with another strong
performance in his second year for the Owen Sound Attack. An OHL coaches poll
voted Richardson as the second most underrated player in the league. He was
the team’s scoring leader and is in the running for his second consecutive team
MVP. Richardson is another example of huge talent on a smaller frame. He was
projected to go in the third round but likely fell because of his
size. The biggest question for Richardson is how his stature can adapt to the
pro game. The OHL is no push over when it comes to physical defensemen and so
far Richardson has done well in that environment. Richardson is scouted as an
exceptional skater with a great work ethic.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Owen Sound (OHL)

67

27

40

67

54

2001-02

Owen Sound (OHL)

58

12

21

33

20

The Avalanche are very happy with this pick. “He was a guy they were definitely
targeting,” said Futa (Owen Sound GM). “They were really thrilled (to draft
Richardson). It’s not too often you see a kid picked in the fifth round and
the guys are high-fiving each other at the draft table.”

“It was pretty exciting, I was really happy it was Colorado,” said Richardson.
“They were one of the teams I really wanted to go to.”

“I would like to have gone higher than the fifth round but I got chosen and Colorado is a great organization,” says Richardson. “It’s not where you get picked but what you do after the draft that counts anyway.”

Projection: 2nd or 3rd line scoring threat, leadership
role.

Linus Videll
(Colorado’s fifth selection, 204th overall)
Left Wing
Shoots Left
6’3″, 215 lbs.
Born: May 5, 1985 in Skarpnack, Sweden

The pick up of Videll with the 204th pick is a possible steal for
the Avalanche in the 2003 draft. He ranked 34th among Europeans skaters
by Centeral Scouting. Videll has good puck handling skills, good shot and a
long reach. Videll has decent skating skills but it’s a noted weakness in comparison
to his other outstanding abilities. Videll has been characterized as an in your
face player that takes good advantage of his size. Vidells next challenge is
to perform at the Elite League level in Sweden which he has not done as of yet.
His well rounded game, size and demonstrated ability to produce make Videll
yet another late round pick the Avalanche may make other clubs regret not picking.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Team Sweden U-18

6

2

0

2

12

2002-03

Södertälje J-20

9

4

2

6

0

2002-03

Brynäs J-20

19

4

7

11

4

2001-02

AIK J-18

18

19

6

25

2

Projection: 3rd line power forward

Brett Hemingway
(Colorado’s sixth selection, 225th overall)
Winger
Shoots Right
6’1″, 185 lbs.
Born: September 28, 1983 in Yorkton, Saskatchewan

Yet another pre-college pick by the Avalanche. Hemingway holds just about every
important forward accolade in the BCHL over the last two years including first
team all star selections, rookie of the year and others. He lead the Express
in all scoring categories for the season. Scored 12 points in seven playoff
games for the 2003 post season run. Was captain of the Express this season and
will join his brother Colin at the University of New Hampshire this fall. He
will play with another outstanding Avalanche prospect Sean Collins. Brett is
a big winger who will surely fill out his frame over time. He’s a good skater
with great acceleration, overall speed and good balance. Has very good hockey
sense, sees the ice extremely well and is not afraid to go to the front of the
net. He can play a physical game but lacks some consistency in this area.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Coquitlam (BCHL)

60

42

50

92

50

2001-02

Coquitlam (BCHL)

60

45

39

84

31

2000-01

PoCo (PIJHL)

36

22

19

41

24

Projection: 4th line winger.

Darryl Yacboski
(Colorado’s seventh choice, 257th overall)
Defenseman
Shoots Left
6’3″, 225 lbs.
Born: January 13, 1985 in North Vancouver, British Columbia

Yacboski has top pick talent, size and work ethic but any player with three
concussions in the past two seasons is a risk. The Avalanche have taken risks
on players with injuries before like Kuleshov with his knee problems. However
unlike Kuleshov, Yacboski was chosen at the right spot and his upside is worth
the risk. Yacboski has shown flashes of dominance in his play and if his body
lets him play he should not disappoint. Regina Pats GM Brent Parker said, “I
think (the Avalanche) recognize the potential there — a big strong kid who’s
a good kid and wants to be a player and works very hard. If he stays healthy
and things go well he could end up being a real steal for them.” Prior to his
injuries and entering the WHL, a 16-year-old Yacboski wowed many at the BC Best
Ever Provincial Camp in late July of ’01. Even then the young Yacoboski was
a 6’2, 224 pounds. Yacboski set camp records in the long jump (nine feet, four
inches) and leg press (1,030 pounds) that year.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Regina (WHL)

37

2

3

5

63

2001-02

Regina (WHL)

33

0

4

4

26

Projection: 6 or 7 defenseman.

David Jones
(Colorado’s eighth choice, 288th overall)
Right Wing
Shoots Right
6’2″, 200 lbs.
Born: August 10, 1984 in Guelph, Ontario

The largest enigma among the Colorado picks was chosen last. Chosen from the
same BCHL team as Hemingway, Jones will spend one more year with the Coquitlam
Express before taking advantage of his scholarship to Dartmouth. He was class
Valedictorian and winner of the community involvement awards. David is a big
body and in only 35 games last year amassed 55 PIM. He was voted last year as
the Express’ unsung hero. Avalanche scouts must have seen something they liked
and will have plenty of time to see what David is really made of as he’s still
a year from his college entry.

Year

Team

GP

G

A

Pts

PIM

2002-03

Coquitlam (BCHL)

35

9

19

28

55

2001-02

Coquitlam (BCHL)

59

19

32

51

62

2000-01

PoCo (PIJHL)

40

18

11

29

31

Projection: 4th line two-way forward.

In total, the Avalanche selected four players from the Canadian Hockey League
(CHL), three college-bound players and one player from the Europe. The team
had a couple of needs to fill in this draft and they addressed both. The forwards
in the system needed a good injection of size and grit and the defensive prospect
pool needed some balancing with more conservative-styled stay at home blue liners.
In the 2001 draft the Avalanche really tried to get some size in their forwards,
out of those selections McCormick and Stephens have performed well and added
that much needed aspect. This year, the Avalanche drafted size at the forward
position again and now have a very good balance of speed, skill, size and grit
among the forward prospect pool. The Avalanche also strengthened a deep defensive
pool with two picks that embrace the stay at home style of play. This balances
the defensive prospects to include heavy offensive contributors and the indispensable
positional defensemen.

Despite giving up their first round selection (via the Rob Blake trade) to
the Kings, the Avalanche did well in a deep draft. Head Avalanche scout Jim
Hammett said he felt that after the first selection of Liffiton and the acquisition
of Slovak (Not to mention the later trade for Ballard) that defensively the
Avs were in a comfortable position and could pursue forwards for their system.
They did so by drafting some good sized, physical forwards as well the highly
skilled Richardson. The Avs are fairly deep with collegiate defensemen and balanced
that nicely this year with forwards as well. The Avs won’t see these players
for some time at rookie camp but college is quickly becoming a favorite development
cycle for their prospects. The CHL selections could see time at Hershey and
battle for a position with the Avalanche as soon as next year. We may see Videll
on North American ice in another year or two depending on his progress in Sweden.