Juraj Slafkovsky is the latest top prospect to be selected 1st overall by the Colorado Avalanche.
The Slovak left winger was chosen over several other contenders for first overall, including Shane Wright, Simon Nemec and Logan Cooley.
Scouts see Slafkovsky as a future first line threat with a strong all-around game. A big-time offensive producer with great hands, he also plays an extremely physical game and doesn't neglect defence. He could even kill penalties at the NHL level.
"This was an incredibly difficult decision for the organization. There were multiple players legitimately good enough to go #1. Ultimately we decided a defensive presence was important, especially on the wing where we somewhat lack that in the top six," said Avs GM Josh Lewis.
Slafkovsky is expected to be assigned to the AHL Colorado Eagles next season, but could make the Avalanche in 2023-24.
With the 8th overall pick, acquired for Drew Doughty, Colorado went for another strong defensive forward - and another Slovak - in right winger Adam Sykora.
Although he doesn't have the offence of most forwards taken in the top 10, Sykora does a solid enough job there. What attracted the Avs is he's a shutdown beast, a physical player who can be matched with the best of them and close them down. Think #1 PKer, an excellent third liner who can play on the second, and a possible Selke candidate if the offence really comes around.
"Defence wins championships, and that includes forwards," the GM said. "Adam is just a dominant, smothering shutdown guy and there's enough offence there that he could crack a #2 power play unit."
After trading 30th pick for Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, the Avs decided to move up in the second round from 48 to 44. They also acquired the 46th pick and a prospect for Ivan Barbashev.
At 44 they took a pure offensive skill guy in David Goyette. The centre pays little attention to defence and is very inconsistent, but the Avs decided to take a swing with their third pick on a potential first line playmaker with puck wizardry skills.
Two picks later Colorado selected their first defenceman of the draft, Artyom Duda. He looks to be a #4 or #5 shutdown d-man with great positioning who excels at stopping the rush. He has some moderate offensive ability but not enough to get any PP time.
With the 56th overall pick, the Avs went for physical winger Reid Schaefer, following their theme from the first round. Schaefer produces offence at maybe a third line level, mainly from his big shot, but devastating hits are his bread and butter.
At #62 Colorado took their first goalie of the draft, and the first goalie on their list, Tyler Brennan. He was the third netminder to be drafted.
"Tyler has the best combination of ability and consistency in the draft, in our minds," the GM said. "He's got starter upside and joins Calle Clang as the best goalie prospects in our system."
With their most recent pick, at 68th overall, the Avalanche went for winger Fraser Minten, another physical two-way forward comparable to Schaefer.