Latest News: 5 draft prospects who would be great fits for the Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche, who are severely short on quality prospects, will be watching the NHL Draft closely, and their decision at number 24 overall will be crucial. With the exception of their top two players, Calum Ritchie and Mikhail Gulyayev, most of Colorado’s prospects are now vying for NHL time with the Colorado Eagles in the AHL.

The Avs will immediately elevate whoever they select in the draft to one of their top five prospects, if not now ranked two or three, at the very least, behind Gulyayev. The Avs should make the most of their lone first-round pick until 2026 (their 2025 first was previously surrendered in the Sean Walker trade), as their next selection after the 24th comes in the fifth round at 132nd overall.
Five prospects that meet the Avalanche criteria

1. Wing, Dynamo Moskva, Igor Chernyshov (KHL)
Chernyshov is the player on this list that I least expect to be available when the Avalanche are playing. He is among the top power forward prospects in this draft class, and he is showing a lot of promising things. Despite playing few minutes on the power play, he scored at a rate of more than a point per game in the MHL. He subsequently performed admirably when filling in as a checking position in the KHL.
He is already physically mature at 6’2″ and 198 pounds. Chernyshov is a skilled player who excels in all scenarios. He regularly engages and uses his stature to his advantage. Although he doesn’t have any one obvious skill, the Avalanche would find him very intriguing because of his stature, skating ability, and physicality.

His journey to the NHL is uncertain. In the KHL, teams have no control over a prospect’s development; however, Chernyshov performed well enough to warrant regular ice time in the upcoming season, which is the final one on his current contract. His physical maturity and solid two-way game imply he could contend for a position on the Avalanche squad very quickly if he completed that transaction and relocated to North America. Although the Avalanche have had very little success with that approach in recent years, and I personally am leery of trusting that method, even a year in the AHL wouldn’t be the worst.
2. Chicago Steel’s Michael Hage, center (USHL)

Hage is another that I doubt will be ready at 24, but I believe there is a possibility. He’s a fascinating man who started the season slowly before really picking up the pace towards the end. Although his skating isn’t his strongest suit, Hage is a fantastic transition player who most definitely embodies Colorado’s style.
Similar to Chernyshov, Hage stands 6 feet 1 inch and weighs 190 pounds, but he lacks the physicality that is a strength in Chernyshov’s style, at least not all the time. Hage became more involved over the season, and the trend is undoubtedly positive. Injury was a major factor in Hage’s draft year, much like it was for Ritchie the year before. However, although Ritchie persevered through injury, Hage’s ailment kept him out of the game for the majority of the previous season and contributed to his slow start.

Hage has the makings of a top-six center if you think that his last 30 games are representative of the player he can be when he joins the University of Michigan as a freshman the following season. If not, you’re undoubtedly curious about Hage’s NHL persona, which is definitely cause for concern. Aside from his transitional contributions, he’s not the most inventive player and is usually a more methodical player.

His combination with Ritchie gives the Avalanche another promising center prospect with good size, which makes him a nice fit in Colorado. One can never have too many excellent alternatives in the center, and the Avalanche will undoubtedly be drawn to a player who is a natural transition specialist. Additionally, he plans to attend college, something the Avalanche have been leaning toward more recently.
3. Guelph Storm’s Jett Luchanko, center (OHL)

We’re now talking about the men who will probably be on the board when the Avs take the podium. Due to his extreme speed, Luchanko is aptly titled “Jett.” One of his greatest assets is his skating, which also serves as a clear link between the player and the Avalanche.

Luchanko presents as more of a defensive stopper than an offensive dynamo; he is not the huge, powerful center of the past. He gets on puck carriers quickly thanks to his speed—I’m telling you, he’s incredibly fast—and his work rate is among the finest in this draft class. Despite his average size (5’11”, 183 lbs), he is an excellent defensive player and a fierce forechecker.

Depending on how the selection order is decided, Luchanko, at 24, might be a touch rich. There are serious doubts about how much more his offensive game can improve. Even though he doesn’t score many points easily, it’s reasonable to question whether his defensive prowess holds him back somewhat and puts him in more difficult matchup scenarios.
Since Ryan O’Reilly was selected at the top of the second round in 2009, the Avalanche have not produced a solid defensive center with a draft pick, thus it appears that they are overdue. Although it would be challenging to argue that Luchanko is the greatest player available, the Avalanche can benefit greatly from having him.

4. Alfons Freij, Vaxjo Lakers’ defenseman (J20 Nationell)
An Avalanche-style defenseman usually conjures images of powerful skaters with transitional offensive capabilities. In light of this, let me introduce you to Alfons Freij, a Swedish defenseman whose main strengths are his mobility and transitional play.

At 6’1′′ and 196 pounds, Freij is a solid stature and moves around the rink like a player 30 pounds lighter. He is a good player in the transition game because of his mobility, both offensively and defensively. Over the past several years, I’ve spoken a lot about how defensemen deliberately block zone enters and don’t allow controlled entries in the first place to define “modern defense.” This is the defensive position in which Freij excels.

His in-zone defense still needs a lot of work, and as he gets stronger and more physically fit, you can only hope that his confidence will increase in the more physically demanding elements of the game.

He excels offensively in transition, but his fluid skating also helps him hold the blueline and launch an assault from it. His goal totals may be misleading because he seems to be more of a facilitator than a scorer, but his skill set as a whole stands out as a perfect fit for Colorado.

Though Freij will probably need some time, the Avs could do worse than a defenseman who perfectly fits their basic approach at the 24th pick.
5. Medicine Hat Tigers’ Andrew Basha, Wing (WHL)

I find Basha to be a very intriguing player because, although he is already very talented, I have no idea what his draft stock is. I also think that he has some potential projection left in his game.

While Basha lacks Chernyshov’s all-around ability, he also doesn’t have a significant weakness in his repertoire. He’s already big at 6’0″, 185 pounds, and he just gets stronger with age. This will assist an already good game along the boards get even better.

His physical attributes are impeccable; he is a powerful skater who makes excellent use of his speed while also blending excellent edgework, deft hand placement, and a pass-first mindset. Despite working hard and maintaining a high level of competition, Basha’s offensive game improved significantly this season. It is evident that his first two years in the WHL, where he was largely used as a checking winger, helped him develop that side of his game.

He is a superb transition player because of his strong skating and attack mindset, but at this stage of his career, he isn’t much of a goal scorer. It’s crucial that he drives the net and into unclean areas in order to score goals because he won’t be scoring many from long range.

Although I believe Basha will probably end up on the wings, I’m wondering whether Medicine Hat would be open to giving him some playing time at center next season. That would be fantastic if he could pull that off, but even if he sticks to being a wing, Colorado’s system would immediately benefit from having him.

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