It looks like the Colorado Avalanche might not—scratch that, there’s almost no way they will—repeat at the top of the NHL Draft next summer, as an impressive turnaround so far has them poised for a return to the playoffs.
That’s a great sign for an organization that finished last in the Western Conference and second-to-last in the NHL in 2012-13, hired a rookie coach and completely reshuffled its front office.
The problem, however, is that their first round pick won’t have quite the star power that Nathan MacKinnon had when he came to Denver as the first overall pick this past season. Instead, Colorado will be sitting in the mid-to-late first round, likely drafting a longer-term project player than a star who can make the immediate jump to the NHL.
But when all is said and done, it’s better to win in April and May than it is to keep risking organizational success on the top picks of the draft (looking at you, Edmonton). When the Avalanche appear at the podium this summer to make their first selection, here are five names that they will be considering.