The Colorado Avalanche didn???t have the No. 1 pick or even a first-rounder, unlike the past two years, but they managed to add some depth to their already bulging prospect pool at the 2023 EHEC Draft.
Colorado drafted eight players, including four forwards, three defencemen and a goalie. Six of those picks came in the last two rounds.
After surrendering their own first, second and third-round picks to Pittsburgh with the Moritz Seider offer sheet, the Avalanche had to wait until 48th overall to make their first selection.
They chose Carey Terrance, a defensive centre with elite positioning, good puck skills and a solid shot. There is no physicality in his game, so he would have to centre a third or fourth line that doesn???t use the hit and grind tactic.
The US-born prospect scored 30 goals and 47 points in 67 games with the OHL???s Erie Otters last season and also played at under-18 worlds.
???Carey is obviously a less flashy name than Juraj Slafkovsky or Owen Power. But at 48, with how the talent level dropped dramatically after the first round, we???re happy with the pick,??? said Avs GM Josh Lewis.
Colorado was set to pick next at 88th overall late in the third round, but they traded 2022 fourth rounder Connor Hvidston to Pittsburgh to move up five spots.
With the 83rd pick they selected shutdown defenceman Carter Sotheran. The 6-foot-3 Manitoba native will never bring much offence to the table at the NHL level, but is expected to be a dominant stay-at-home force. Hitting might be the strongest part of his game, but his positioning and defensive play are also superb.
He posted 23 points in 68 games with the WHL???s Portland Winterhawks in 2022-23.
???We???re very pleased to get Sotheran late in the third round,??? the GM said. ???There was almost no one left on the board that we felt was worthy of going that high, so parting with one of our many long-shot prospects was a fair price to move up.???
They took another defenceman, Daniil Karpovich, with their next pick at 98th overall. The 6-foot-3 Belarussian has some major consistency issues, but in terms of defensive skill set he projects very similarly to Sotheran as a big hitter who marks opposing forwards tightly.
Although his offence isn???t what caught scouts??? attention, he recorded strong numbers in Russia???s top junior league with 10 goals and 35 points in 47 games for Avto Yekaterinburg.
???Karpovich was ranked right after Sotheran on our list, so to get him 15 picks later was pretty good,??? Lewis said.
The Avs were up again six picks later, selecting right winger Yegor Rimashevsky, another Belarus native.
An offence-first winger whose puckhandling is his best asset, he also plays a serviceable enough defensive game to avoid being a liability. He had 26 points in 29 games for Dynamo Moskva in the top Russian junior league.
???Considering the Islanders took the top guy on our list one pick before, Jesse Nurmi, we were scrambling a bit. But we got a similar player,??? the GM said.
With their third pick of the fourth round, 119th overall, Colorado took goaltender Adam Gajan.
???We got this pick for the con booster goalie we drafted last year, Niklas Kokko, so it???s only fitting that we used it on another con booster goalie.???
Gajan, like Kokko, is extremely talented but also extremely inconsistent. He was the sixth goalie selected.
He starred for Slovakia at this year???s World Juniors, being named goalie of the tournament, and posted a .917 save percentage in 34 games with the North American Hockey League???s Chippewa Steel.
Colorado also had three picks in the fifth round. They traded the 137th selection to Pittsburgh for Simon Despres, but then acquired No. 147 from Dallas for AHL goalie Isaiah Saville.
With the 129th overall pick, they took Finnish defenceman Emil Pieniniemi. Like their other two rearguard picks, he is defence-first but not as good as Sotheran or Karpovich. Positioning is his best skill and he isn???t afraid to throw hits. But don???t expect any offence if he makes the NHL.
Pieniniemi had 13 points in 31 games at the Finnish U20 level and also played for his country at the under-18s.
One pick later, the Avs chose their second centre with a strong skill set away from the puck in Brad Gardiner.
The Ontario native plays an extremely physical brand of hockey, gives opponents little space to work with in his own end and can also shoot the puck decently enough, although offence will never be his calling card.
He had 19 goals and 39 points for the OHL???s Ottawa 67s last season.
With the pick acquired for Saville, Colorado took yet another non-offence-first forward. Beckett Hendrickson is a similar player to Gardiner, except he plays left wing.
The American brings even less offence to the table and hitting is his best asset by far, with his defensive game average at best.
He spent last season with the US National Team Development Program and is committed to the University of Minnesota in 2024-25.
???The odds of him being anything more than a 13th forward are pretty slim, but what do you expect with four picks left in a shallow draft???? the GM said. ???We weren???t going to re-sign Saville, due to Tyler Brennan and Patrik Hamrla both graduating from junior to the AHL this fall.???
Although none of the new prospects are high-end, they add talent at all positions to a pool of prospects that is already arguably the league???s deepest. Thirteen of their prospects are expected to move up to the AHL next season and that???s before most of their massive 15-player draft class of 2022 hits the pro level.