CALGARY, AB -- Colorado Avalanche Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Joe Sakic made waves on Tuesday when the Denver Post released a report stating the team would likely pass on NHL Central Scouting Services' No. 1 ranked North American skater Seth Jones.
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Sakic told the Denver Post, referring to Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov.
"We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."
Jones played for the Portland Winterhawks in the 2012-13 campaign, recording 14 goals and 56 points in 61 games. He played alongside Flames prospect Tyler Wotherspoon for much the season, anchoring the Winterhawks back-end and helping lead them to a WHL Championship victory.
MacKinnon, second on the CSS' final North American Skaters rankings, posted 75 points (32 goals, 43 assists) through 44 games with the Halifax Mooseheads this past season. He rattled off 11 goals and 33 points in 17 postseason outings and was key in the Mooseheads capturing the 2013 Memorial Cup.
Drouin led the Mooseheads in scoring in 2012-13, amassing 105 points (41 goals, 64 assists) in 49 games. He was named the CHL Player of the Year, becoming the first player to win the award in his first NHL draft-eligible season since Sidney Crosby did so in 2005. Drouin sits third on the CSS' final North American skater rankings.
Barkov is the CSS' top ranked European skater thanks to an incredible season with Tappara in the Finnish Elite League. The pivot scored 21 goals and 48 points through games and averaged 1.00 points-per-game in the SM-liiga playoffs.
The Avs, who hold the first overall pick, also made headlines when new head coach Patrick Roy let it be known the team would consider trading that pick after being questioned about the depth of this year's draft.
"All are premier players," Roy said at his introductory press conference. "At the end of the day, it's going to be an organization decision. We have scouts that have been watching game after game and they have their input. Joe and [team president] Josh [Kroenke] are the final say.
"Regardless of what we're going to do, we have to make the best decision. Maybe the best is to trade it. Maybe the best is to keep it. At the end, we'll see what's on the table."