When the Colorado Avalanche won the draft lottery and the right to select defenceman Seth Jones -- the top-ranked prospect, according to central scouting -- most had the immediate sense that this was probably what they would do.
After all, the Avs got six goals from their blueline in 2013, and only one defenceman, Tyson Barrie, scored more than one (he scored two). A franchise defenceman -- say, a Seth Jones type, not unlike, I don't know, Seth Jones -- would do them a lot of good.
But they won't be drafting Seth Jones. According to Executive VP of Hockey Operations (and sort-of GM) Joe Sakic, the Avalanche will likely be drafting one of Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, or Alexander Barkov.
"If we do pick first, we're leaning more toward one of those three forwards," Sakic told the Denver Post, adding, "We feel those three forwards are just too good to pass up."
Well. I'm having a hard time with this.
Granted, MacKinnon, Drouin and Barkov all appear to have incredible futures in the NHL, but drafting Jones isn't just a matter of drafting for organizational need. Sure, the Avalanche have a glaring, Seth Jones-sized hole in their makeup like when a cartoon character escapes through a wall, but Jones is still the top-ranked guy.
According to most scouts, he's the one that's too good to pass up. In other words, whichever approach you take into the draft, making Jones an Avalanche is the logical course of action. If Sakic's being completely forthcoming here, this is a head-scratcher.
Furthermore, why would Sakic be completely forthcoming here, anyway? Weren't the Avalanche interested in potentially trading down if the price was right? If they had come to a consensus that they weren't going to be drafting Seth Jones, it seems to me that the intelligent course of action would have been to keep mum and see if you could get anything from one of the three teams below you in exchange for the right to draft a guy you weren't going to take anyway.
Or maybe there's some other game Sakic is playing. Perhaps he's attempting to mislead in order to tease a big trade offer from a GM lusting after one of the three forwards?
Adrian Dater doesn't think so. He thinks the Avalanche just really, really like Nathan MacKinnon.
I think, as of now, that MacKinnon is the favorite. But we’ll see what the next nine days bring.
A lot of of you have emailed or tweeted me tonight: maybe the Avs are just posturing? Maybe they’re trying to run some interference, that what they really want to do is take Jones, but want to let everyone think they’ll take a forward instead and therefore draw some bigger offer from another team that, say, really lusts after MacKinnon or one of the other two.
Anything’s possible in this business, but I don’t think so.
We'll have to see how this all shakes out at the draft. But here's one thing we know for sure: the revamped Avalanche front office remains fascinating.
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