Photo: Benjamin Reed/Flickr.
The biggest news to come out of the Avalanche camp today was the re-signing of Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. Duchene is now locked down with the Avalanche for the next two years, with a salary of $7 million total during those two years.
Frankly, I’m pretty shocked about the length of this contract, as well as the monetary value. Duchene is a young player, and is one of the most important on the team- to only lock him up for two years seems like too much of a gamble. With every new contract Duchene signs, he gets closer to becoming an unrestricted free agent, with the opportunity to walk away from the Avalanche if they do not give him what he wants. It is also surprising to see that his salary barey increased from the contract he signed in his rookie year. All I can hope is that for whatever reason, Duchene and his agent wanted a short-term deal, and that the two parties will continue trying to work on an extension prior to the contract expiring. (I am also hoping this means that the Avalanche intend to make a big push for Zach Parise come July 1.)
Unfortunately, the news of Duchene overshadows the news of five players realizing their dreams of being drafted into the NHL.
Mitchell Heard was drafted 41st overall to become the first selection for the Avs in the 2012 draft. Heard is a 20 year old center who averaged a point a game with the Plymouth Whalers. Next up, the 72 pick became Troy Bourke, a left winger. Bourke joins the Avalanche family as yet another kid who idolized the Avs growing up. Michael Clarke was chosen 132 overall, and is another center being brought into the Colorado fold. 162 overall went to Joseph Blandisi, a seventeen year old player in the OHl. With the final pick the Avalanche had (192), they chose Colin Smith, the fourth center and fifth forward to be added today.
Overall, I’m not surprised that this year the Avalanche went with a lot of forwards. First off, they drafted mostly defensemen last year (excluding, of course, Gabriel Landeskog), so it makes sense to target some forwards this year, and assume that these players should all be NHL ready around the same time. Secondly, this draft was not considered to be particularly rich with prospects. As such, it is typically safer to bet on a forward in the later rounds, as defensemen are almost always drafted based on untapped potential. It is less risky to take a chance on a forward who is already further along in his development.
Joseph Blandisi is on twitter (@_themagicbullet), if you wish to follow him. He tweeted about 40 minutes ago, saying “What an honor to be drafted to @Avalanche, very excited to become part of the family #avsnation”