Colorado Avalanche Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Pracey recapped the organization's 2013 NHL Draft, held on June 30 in Newark, N.J., at a press conference on July 1 at Pepsi Center in Denver. Pracey introduced Nathan MacKinnon, the draft's No. 1 overall pick, and gave his scouting report on all seven players the Avalanche selected. Here is Pracey's take on the newest Avs:
Nathan MacKinnon, First Round, No. 1 Overall
Center, 6' 0", 182 lbs., Halifax (QMJHL)
Pracey: "[He's] a special player in our eyes. Anybody who has followed our draft the last few years, you know how important compete is for us, you know how important character is for us, you know how important the skill and the instincts to play the game; these are the criteria as a whole organization that are our driving traits of our decisions. This player has the ability to elevate his game at special times. Something to live up to expectations, not only to comparisons of players throughout his career starting at [Shattuck-St. Mary's School], through a draft year, the grind mentally, the pressures of being a top pick, the pressures of performing – not only on the international stage for his country, not only in the stretch drive and a big push in the Canadian Hockey League, Quebec league playoffs, and then the Memorial Cup, finding another level of play. This player is special in terms of character. We believe in him as a person, we believe in his priorities, we believe in his off-ice situation in terms of family, his approach to being a professional are all things that pushed him to the top of our board."
Chris Bigras, Second Round, No. 32 Overall
Defenseman, 6'0", 186 lbs., Owen Sound (OHL)
Pracey: "When we had pre-discussions in the media about our plan and our attack, taking advantage of picking high in the second round, this was a player that we had targeted in the mid-first round range, so we are very excited to have Chris Bigras of the Owen Sound Attack fall to our selection. He is a player that plays a two-way game. Best compliment that I can give him and the best compliment to the defenseman as a whole is that we believe that he makes the right play. Under pressure in his own zone, he is not a player that panics. He has offense in terms of picking his spots and providing a second layer coming up the ice. He is a player that is instinctively in all three zones, he knows how to play the game. Hockey sense to us is his greatest asset. Size and strength are coming; he will be a 6-foot-1 player. His instincts and his ability to read the play will allow him to survive with his D-zone responsibility. We are very excited to have – what we believe – his first-round depth at the second-round position."
Spencer Martin, Third Round, No. 63 Overall
Goaltender, 6'2", 198 lbs., Mississauga (OHL)
Pracey: "Spencer is a goaltender that played in 46 of 68 games at the Canadian Hockey League level. Saw some times as the No. 1 goaltender at 17 [years old], so he is responsible for ice time, key minutes, key games. Projection here, in terms of that he is a big goaltender, 6-foot-2, he moves well. We really like his footwork. He's a player where his second half may not have been as strong as his first half, but we are looking long term and we like his skill set. Nice combination of technique, compete and athleticism. We believe that he has a chance to be an NHL goaltender."
Mason Geertsen, Fourth Round, No. 93 Overall
Defenseman, 6'3", 199 lbs., Vancouver (WHL)
Pracey: “More of a need component here; this is a big blue-liner. Over 6-foot-3, well over a hundred PIM's in the Western Hockey League, is a tough customer, plays hard in his D-zone, moves the puck, but has more of a defensive component to his game. We like the fact that he is sort of a nasty competitor; he stands up for his teammates, takes the defense zone responsibilities to heart. That’s his first major process to the game, and we appreciate that in him. There will be a development component, but his attributes in terms of size, strength, and compete; they were what we were looking for at this selection.”
Will Butcher, Fifth Round, No. 123 Overall
Defenseman, 5'9", 191 lbs., USA-NTDP (USHL)
Pracey: “To me Will Butcher, he’s a hockey player. Very good instincts, very good skill; he just simply impacts the game with his ability to play. A player that’s not tall, he’s 5’10.5”; however he’s stocky and he’s strong. He can defend, he can make plays, but he’s a very good instinctive and intuitive hockey player; and we think with some development time and his mindset, that’s he’s got a chance to be a National Hockey League player. And his ability to move the puck, think the game, and advance the play. We have an exciting group of forwards [in the system currently], I think we are going to see a high-tempo offensive game coming out of our group and I think having somebody that can move the puck in the back end is going to serve us well.”
Ben Storm, Sixth Round, No. 153 Overall
Defenseman, 6'6", 216 lbs., Muskegon (USHL)
Pracey: “Players come in all different shapes and sizes, and there is no pun intended here. This individual is 6-foot-6, he’s over 200 pounds, there’s a projection-based component to this decision. In conversations with Joe and Patrick, to get some of these players at the National Hockey League, you have to take some chances at the draft day; and this was one of those situations. Played for Muskegon in the Unites States Hockey League. There’s a development curve here as well. We have a four-year time period at the NCAA level; he's going to St. Cloud State. There will be a time component with this player, but we’re curious to see where he goes; and size was the major draw.”
Wilhelm Westlund, Seventh Round, No. 183 Overall
Defenseman, 5'11", 184 lbs., Farjestad (Sweden)
Pracey: “We selected a two-way defenseman. Average size in terms of the National Hockey League, but his skating and puck-moving ability were attributes we were very fond of. This is a player that will have a four-year development plan. He played over 20 games at the Swedish Elite League level and succeeded within his peer group on the international stage as well.”