Avalanche 2004 draft evaluation

By John-Eric Iannicello

Though the 2004 draft hasn’t shown as much production as the Avalanche might have hoped, there are positive signs that some additional picks may come to fruition in the next season or two.  

The Avalanche selected five forwards, three defenders and one goaltender with their nine draft choices in an effort to restock their system in all positions.  Forward Wojtek Wolski has already made a strong NHL impact, while other depth picks have started to show signs of potential NHL capability. The Avalanche’s draft class has averaged 27.89 NHL games per pick so far. 

Wojtek Wolski, LW – 1st round, 21st overall – Brampton Battalion [OHL]
NHL Games Played: 240
Status: NHL Player

The Avalanche couldn’t pass up the chance to draft Wolski at 21st overall.  He was ranked fifth in North American skaters by Central Scouting and considered a great offensive talent but needed to use his imposing frame in a more power-forward fashion.  His draft stock was in play on draft day due to off-ice problems with local police. 

Wolski would go on to have two very strong seasons in the OHL after he was drafted, scoring 73 and 128 points.  But even with his great offensive skills he was shunned by the Canadian World Junior team.

Wolski has proven to be great value at 21st overall.  He’s completed three full seasons in the NHL and the 23-year-old has provided solid secondary scoring for the Avalanche.  Though his point totals have been declining over the last few seasons (50, 48, and 42 points) Wolski is still a legit top-six talent for the Avalanche with the potential to be a top line player.

With the lack of young experienced scoring forwards, Wolski is vital to the rebuilding Avalanche this coming season. 

Victor Oreskovich, RW – 2nd round, 55th overall – Green Bay Gamblers [USHL]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: Bust

Oreskovich was a bit of a stretch at 55th overall, ranked by Central Scouting at 72nd among North American Skaters. 

Oreskovich was seen as a raw talent at the time of the draft but had all the tools to be a successful NHL forward.  As many others in the past, Oreskovich’s offensive game didn’t translate as well as he hoped after he made the transition to the NCAA

With the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL, he managed to finish third in team scoring with 37 points in 58 games but in his first season with Notre Dame he only scored 3 points in 37 games.  He was just 18 years old and points were few and far between as they are for most 18-year-olds in the NCAA.

In the 2005-06 season, Oreskovich left Notre Dame for the chance to play in the OHL to fast track his progression to the NHL.  He found his offensive touch again playing for the Kitchener Rangers.  While joining the team late, he still managed to score 16 points in 19 games.  The following season, the 20-year-old Oreskovich finished second in team scoring with 60 points in 62 games.  His offensive game started coming around and combined with a 6’3 frame he was looking like a player.

Oreskovich was set on making the Avalanche in the fall, but when he was re-assigned to Lake Erie at the start of the season, he went AWOL.  Character issues started to arise as it wasn’t the first time a situation like this had happened.  He was sent home at one point while playing for Kitchener in what was reported as an internal dressing room problem. 

Oreskovich was suspended by the team after failing to report to Lake Erie and seems to have retired from hockey since then.

Denis Parshin, RW – 3rd round, 72nd overall – CSKA Jr. [Russia]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: NHL Prospect

In the third round of the draft, the Avalanche again jumped into the deep end with another gamble when they selected flashy forward Denis Parshin 72nd overall.  He was described by some one of the purest offensive talents in the draft.

The dangerous Russian forward was a dark horse in the draft due to his diminutive stature.  He was approximately 5’9 and at 150 lbs he needed to bulk up in a serious way in order to be effective in a pre-lockout NHL.  With the new rule changes in the NHL after the 2004-05 lockout, it looked like Parshin would have a future in the NHL.

Unfortunately, Parshin has yet to make the trip to North America and it doesn’t seem as though he ever will.  In the summer of 2007, Avalanche brass attempted to lure Parshin over but there was a high demand for him in the KHL.

Richard Demen-Willaume, D – 5th round, 154th overall – Frölunda Jrs. [Sweden]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: NHL Prospect

Another good value pick, Demen-Williaume was projected as a top 60 pick by some scouting affiliates.  A sturdy, highly-touted Swedish defensive prospect the Avalanche selected Demen-Williaume in the fifth round.

He played two more seasons in Sweden after his draft year playing for Frölunda in both the junior and elite league. 

In the 2006-07 season, Demen-Williaume moved to North America to play in the Central Hockey League for the Arizona Sundogs.  He only participated in nine games, posting two points. 

He returned back home to Sweden the following season where he would spend the next three years playing for Rögle.  He’s currently under contract with Rögle for another season.

Demen-Williaume has added significant bulk since his draft year which has made him an even more imposing physical player.  He was less than 195lbs in his draft year and is now approximately 220 lbs.  Originally a defender, Demen-Williaume has seen time this season on forward and may have found a permanent role there. 

His future with the Avalanche is up in the air.  It may become clearer at the end of next season when his contract expires.

Derek Peltier, D – 6th round, 184th overall – Cedar Rapids Roughriders [USHL]
NHL Games Played: 11
Status: NHL Prospect

Ranked 113th among North American skaters by Central Scouting going into the draft, Peltier was selected in 184th overall by the Avalanche. 

A highly skilled offensive defender in the USHL, Peltier finished with an impressive 33 points in 55 games in his draft year which was third in defensive scoring for the Roughriders. 

He would spend the following four seasons playing at the University of Minnesota where he put up strong, consistent point totals in each of his four years.  In his rookie year, as an 18-year-old he scored 19 points in 42 games.  He would follow that performance with seasons of 18, 15 and 21 points. 

Peltier signed an entry-level deal with the Avalanche last summer and has recently completed his first full pro season with Lake Erie.  He recorded 19 points in 68 games with the Monsters.

At year’s end, due to an injury-plagued Avalanche line-up, Peltier had an opportunity to showcase some of his NHL ability in 11 games with the Avalanche.  He was held pointless in all contests and averaged a modest 13 minutes of ice time.

He’s likely to spend at least another season in the AHL before attempting to secure a full-time spot with the Avalanche.  Peltier has been a consistent offensive defender in his career and will need to continue that trend in order to find a place in the NHL.

Ian Keserich, G – 7th round, 215th overall – Cleveland Barons [NAHL] 
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: Bust

The only goaltender selected by the Avalanche in the 2004 draft, Keserich was ranked 16th overall in North American goalie rankings by Central Scouting. 

Keserich saw early success as a teenager winning a gold medal with the American U-18 team and also being named top goaltender at the tournament in 2003.  In the 2004-05 season he moved made the jump to the NCAA playing for The Ohio State University.

In his two seasons in the NCAA, Keserich was unable to take a starting role with Ohio State being stuck behind Dave Caruso.  He only played a total of 10 games before leaving the NCAA to play in a more prominent role for the Tri-City Storm of the USHL as a 20-year-old.

He had a rebound year after two seasons of virtual non-play in the NCAA.  In 47 games with USHL, Keserich recorded 2.62 goals against, and a .901 save percentage.  He had the opportunity to turn pro at year’s end. 

In the 2007-08 season, Keserich saw his first taste of pro hockey playing with both the Colorado Eagles, and Mississippi River Kings in the CHL.  In 21 games with the River Kings, while splitting playing duty with veteran Sebastian Centomo, Keserich posted 2.64 goals against and a .916 save percentage.

A year later he moved up the professional ranks to the ECHL, but again was hard-pressed to steal a starting job and split the season with Kris Mayotte.  He started in 33 games, had a 3.14 goals against, and .902 save percentage.

Even though Keserich has good size and goaltending ability, his position on the Avalanche depth chart makes him a long-shot at best to move up within the organization. 

Brandon Yip, RW – 8th round, 239th overall – Coquitlam Express [BCHL]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: NHL Prospect

A strong scorer in the BCHL, Yip has spent the last four years at Boston University transforming his overall game into more than just an offensive threat.

A great value pick in the eighth round, Yip was originally ranked 138th overall among North American Skaters by Central Scouting.  He was top three in scoring on Coquitlam with 69 points in 56 games. 

Yip would spend one more season in the BCHL before moving to the NCAA to play for Boston University.  Yip had early offensive success in the NCAA scoring an impressive 31 points in 39 games as a 20-year-old.  He was named Hockey East’s rookie of the year.  He also started to bring more of a physical presence and tenacity to his game which would make him a fan favorite at BU over the next three years.

The next couple seasons would truly test the character of Yip as his career in the NCAA started to hit rough waters.  In his sophomore year, where expectations began to grow due to the loss of key graduating seniors, Yip met his first major challenge as he suffered through an injured shoulder in early October 2006, limiting him to 18 games that season.  He scored 11 points in those 18 games.

Work ethic started to escape Yip in practices and in his junior year he was suspended one week by coach Jack Parker for violating strict team protocol involving alcohol in December 2007.  Yip’s attitude towards the game would change from then on as he had a rebound year in 2008-09 for BU. 
In his final year at BU, Yip shattered his previous goal high of 11, scoring 20 goals in 45 games.  He improved his point totals significantly as well from 23 points to a new career high of 43.  His belligerence reflected in a plethora of penalty minutes.  He went from 28 to 118.  Yip was also a part of the Terriers national championship this past season. 

With the explosive season he had, it’s likely that Yip will receive an entry-level deal from the Avalanche.  He looks to be a gem in the eighth round and will be looking to make an immediate impact in the pros.

J.D. Corbin, LW – 8th round, 249th overall – U. of Denver [NCAA]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: NHL Bust

Drafted out of college, Corbin had already played a full season at the University of Denver before being selected 249th overall by the Avalanche.  That season, he was a part of the Denver Pioneers 2004 national championship team.

While not necessarily a great offensive presence, Corbin brings a solid energy game.  He spent all four years at Denver, with a career high of 20 points in 38 games.  In his final year at Denver in 2006 he only played 10 games due to injured leg.  He was off to a promising offensive start with six points in those 10 games.

In 2007-08 he started his pro career with Colorado’s minor league affiliate in the ECHL, the Johnstown Chiefs.  He played 16 games there collecting one goal and eight assists.  He also spent the majority of his first year in the AHL with the Lake Erie Monsters.  In 42 games, he only scored nine points. 

He is no longer an Avalanche prospect.

Steven McClellan, D – 9th round, 281st overall – Catholic Memorial H.S. [Mass.]
NHL Games Played: 0
Status: Bust

With the last selection in the 2004 NHL draft the Avalanche selected McClellan from Catholic Memorial High School.

McClellan was a point-per-game defender for Catholic Memorial in his draft year, with 26 points in 25 games.  He was a noted puck-moving defender with solid skating and speed.

He spent one more season at Catholic Memorial before joining Northeastern University in the fall of 2005. 

McClellan only played in eight games for Northeastern recording no points and eight penalty minutes.  He would leave the team the season after.

He is no longer an Avalanche prospect.