Colorado Avalanche added depth to organization at 2008 NHL Draft

By Blake Benzel

Nate Condon - University of Minnesota Golden Gophers

Photo: Nate Condon (left), one of Minnesota's top scorers this season, tries to maintain possession against a leaping check from North Dakota's Danny Kristo (MTL). (courtesy of Vincent Muzik/Icon SMI)

The 2008 Entry Draft saw players such as Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson, and Jordan Eberle taken in the opening round. The Colorado Avalanche, however, missed out on the first round of the draft having sent their first round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the deal that sent Adam Foote back to Denver.

Despite the trade, the team still had seven picks in the draft, though not one prior to the 50th overall pick.

Cameron Gaunce, D, Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (OHL) – 2nd round, 50th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 11

Gaunce, who played his junior hockey for the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors in the OHL, is one of three Avalanche draft picks from this year to have played any time in the NHL having had a cup of coffee with the big squad in the 2010-11 season, tallying a goal in 11 games. For all intents and purposes, Gaunce fits perfectly into the “two-way defenseman” role, not only having some decent offensive up side, but also having the ability to stand up for his teammates.

Gaunce is in his third pro season, having played the bulk of those three season with Colorado’s AHL affiliate Lake Erie Monsters. In 186 games for the Monsters he has racked up nine goals and 50 assists, with an impressive 272 penalty minutes over that time.

Peter Delmas, G, Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL) – 2nd round 61st overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Delmas, an athletic and positionally-sound goaltender, would never play a game in the Avs system. Drafted by the Avalanche, Delmas would never stick in their organization and eventually he signed as a free agent in 2011 with the Montreal Canadiens after a terrific outing in the 2010-11 season with both the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. Delmas posted a 15-6-2 record for Wheeling, with a 2.03 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. He also went 1-0-1 in the AHL that season.

His success in the ECHL would continue, compiling a 29-21-6 record with Wheeling over the last two seasons. Despite a rough go of it in his brief time with Hamilton this season, Delmas has posted a solid 2.33 goals against average and a .918 save percentage for Wheeling this year and is listed only behind Dustin Tokarski on the Habs’ list of goaltending prospects.

Kelsey Tessier, C, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) – 4th round, 110th overall
Stats: Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Tessier, a hard-working, all-around center, went unsigned by the Avs and has found a role on the AHL’s Connecticut Whale. He signed an AHL contract with the team in 2010 after a successful, four-year career in the QMJHL.

Despite not having cracked the NHL yet, Tessier has had modest success with the Whale. He has played in 201 AHL games, tallying 33 goals and 77 points over that span.

Mark Olver, C, Northern Michigan University (CCHA) – 5th round, 140th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 58

Of all of the Avs’ draft picks from the 2008 draft, Olver is the one who has had the most luck cracking the lineup in the NHL. After a successful three-year career at Northern Michigan University, Olver found himself as one of Colorado’s first injury call-ups and may have finally cemented his spot on the squad this season.

While his success in the AHL – 115 games played, 33 goals, 73 points – has not yet translated over to the NHL, Olver has had some modest success and is tracking to be a solid third and fourth line option. In 58 career NHL games, Olver has seven goals and 18 points and looks like he could play an important part going forward for the Avs, especially if they continue having injury problems as they have this season.

Joel Chouinard, D, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) – 6th round, 167th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

To some, Chouinard may not have a ton of value for the Avs. He is a relatively one-dimensional, offensive defenseman that has struggled to capture the lightning in a bottle that saw him tally 68 points in 65 games during his final season for the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres. That being said, he has put up some decent offensive numbers in the AHL despite not having tallied a point in eight games for Lake Erie this season. In 96 AHL games, he has eight goals and 27 points and carries a minus-nine rating. He also played 30 games for the CHL’s Denver Cutthroats this season, netting three goals and 11 points, along with a plus-six rating.

Jonas Holos, D, Sarpsborg (Norway) – 6th round, 170th overall
Status: Bust
NHL Games Played: 39

Holos, drafted at 20 years old, made the Avalanche right out of camp in the 2010-11 season, playing 39 games for the Avs and registering six assists during that time. After failing to make the squad out of camp the next season, Holos asked for his release from the team and was picked up by Vaxjo HC in the Swedish Elite League where he has played 92 games over the last two seasons, potting six goals and 25 points over that time.

Nate Condon, C, Wausau West HS (HS-WI) – 7th round, 200th overall
Status: Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Condon may have been the last player that Colorado drafted in the 2008 draft, but he could very well turn out to be one of the best. After two solid seasons with the Fargo Force of the USHL, Condon began attending the University of Minnesota in 2010 and has since become a large part of their team. During his junior season this year, he ranks in the team’s top five in scoring with 29 points through 32 games. Over the course of his college career, Condon has played in 110 games for “The U,” tallying 30 goals and 76 points.