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Draft Preview: Colorado Avalanche – Waiting on Joe's gold

Colorado Avalanche GM Joe Sakic is sitting on motherlode of prize prospects and franchise jewels.

Joe Sakic is a picture of patience. For a second straight year, his Avalanche clawed their way into the playoffs, but he resisted the temptation to mortgage the future for band-aid upgrades at the trade deadline. Now, patience gets rewarded. Holding Ottawa’s first-rounder at the 2019 podium, the Avs will pick fourth and have their own first-round selection. Sakic can accelerate the team’s timeline with major prospect additions.

IMMEDIATE NEEDS: We all know what Colorado needs: depth at forward. Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen scored an even higher percentage of the team’s goals than they did the year before. It’s a bountiful UFA market, so the Avs could target a big name if they don’t think the 2019 draft improves them enough – or if they want more experience and leadership to support the youngsters.

LONG-TERM NEEDS: The Avs have promising blueline prospects in Cale Makar and Conor Timmins, so, after adding winger Martin Kaut in the first round last year, Sakic can load up at forward again. With Kaut and Shane Bowers coming, the Avalanche will soon shed their reputation as a one-line team.

CAP SITUATION: Colorado’s cap space could approach $40 million, but a big portion of that will go to RFA Rantanen, who will command a salary above the Leon Draisaitl range and closer to Jack Eichel territory, perhaps $10 million per season. Support players such as J.T. Compher, Alexander Kerfoot and Nikita Zadorov need new contracts, too. After all that work, Sakic will still have a good chunk of change to throw at a UFA, as goalie Semyon Varlamov comes off the books.

IN THE SYSTEM 2019-20: Makar, an intelligent, dynamic offensive D-man likened to Erik Karlsson, is the NHL’s No. 1 prospect in Future Watch. Makar scored in his first game after turning pro and immediately upgrades the blueline.

DID YOU KNOW: Prospect Nikolai Kovalenko is the son of Andrei Kovalenko, who spent four seasons in the organization before being sent to Montreal as part of the Patrick Roy trade in 1995-96.

LATE-ROUND GEMS:
(2000-2018 drafts)
Tyson Barrie, 64th, ’09
John-Michael Liles, 159th, ’00
Brad Richardson, 163rd, ’03
Tom Gilbert, 129th, ’02
Marek Svatos, 227th, ’01
David Jones, 288th, ’03
Cody McCormick, 144th, ’01
Kurt Sauer, 88th, ’00
Will Butcher, 123rd, ’13
Brad Malone, 105th, ’07

PICKS AFTER SECOND ROUND: 107
100+ NHL GAMES: 14
PERCENT SUCCESS: 13.1%
NHL RANK: 17th

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