Photo: First overall pick Nathan MacKinnon debuts as the Colorado Avalanche’s top prospect (courtesy of Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
First overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon may be getting all of the attention in Denver these days but Winnipeg native Calvin Pickard is silently working hard in the background and is looked to as the future of Avalanche goaltending.
Photo: Colorado’s first overall pick, Nathan MacKinnon, was the first selection of a new era for the Avalanche, now led by Patrick Roy (left) and Joe Sakic (right) (courtesy of Rich Graessle/Icon SMI)
In the truncated 2012-13 NHL season, the Colorado Avalanche did not have the inauspicious honor of having the worst record in the NHL – that went to the Florida Panthers – but they did win the draft lottery and picked first in this year’s draft, giving them their pick of the litter, so to speak.
Photo: Colorado’s second overall pick in 2011, Gabriel Landeskog made an immediate impact in the lineup and was named the team’s captain in 2012 (courtesy of Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Colorado Avalanche have had quite a bit of turnover already in their off-season, first firing former Head Coach Joe Sacco, then hiring Patrick Roy to be their new bench boss and Vice President of Hockey Ops and promoting Joe Sakic to be their Executive Vice President of Hockey Ops. Roy and Sakic have joined the fray and will look to help the team improve upon their prospect base that has them sitting 29th in the NHL in that regard.
Photo: After a long stint in Colorado in 2011-12, defenseman Stefan Elliott underachieved at the AHL level for most of his season with Lake Erie in 2012-13 (courtesy of Jimmy Simmons/Icon SMI)
Despite making the playoffs a few seasons ago, the Colorado Avalanche have been languishing the last few seasons, not fully able to cash in on the promise of their young players. Not only have they struggled on the ice, but they have struggled in the draft as well, lacking the organizational depth that makes the great teams truly great. All that aside, there are players in their system that have stood out a bit above the rest.
Photo: Junior defenseman Gus Young stepped into a shutdown role in a breakout season for the National Champion Yale Bulldogs (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
It would be easy to overlook the prospects that the Colorado Avalanche have developing in the NCAA and Europe, simply because none are flashy prospects. All were drafted after the third round and none are even the superstars on their own teams. To overlook these four prospects, however, would be a huge mistake as all of them look to be making strides that will, ultimately, find them playing in the pro ranks soon.