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Interesting read on jesgolbez blogspot on the avs past drafts..
It's struck me, over the years, that as much success as the Avalanche have had on the ice (two Cups since '96, Vancouver fans!), the Pierre Lacroix/Francois Giguere era has been pretty lacking as far as the draft goes. Years of high hopes for Peter Ratchuk, Mikhail Kuleshov, Martin Grenier, and the like have embittered me.
I don't know if the Avs are really any worse (or better) than any other team, but (with one glaring exception) it seems like they've had a lot of underwhelming draft classes since coming to Denver.
Having some spare time at work tonight, I thought I'd take a look. I only started looking in 1995 -- rather unfairly, perhaps, since the Nordiques' 1994 draft class produced Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk, and Tim Thomas. But this is hardly a scientific study, really -- more just humoring something that's been bugging me for a while.
So, the draft classes. Players that saw NHL time are in bold:
1995: Marc Denis, Nic Beaudoin, John Tripp, Tomi Kallio, Brent Johnson, John Cirjak, Dan Smith, Tomi Hirvonen, Chris George
Only Denis and Johnson remain in the league. Kallio was serviceable enough for the Thrashers for a couple years; the other guys were just on the fringe. Best player: Denis
1996: Peter Ratchuk, Yuri Babenko, Mark Parrish, Ben Storey, Randy Petruk, Luke Curtin, Brian Willsie, Kai Fischer, Dan Hinote, Samuel Pahlsson, Roman Pylner, Matt Scorsune, Justin Clark
Only Babenko and Hinote ever played for Colorado -- Parrish was traded away (for Tom Fitzgerald, I think) and Pahlsson in the Ray Bourque deal, which I certainly can't complain about. Hinote, Pahlsson, and Parrish are all very different players with similar usefulness levels -- I'd say Pahlsson is the best of the group, but I'm not religious about it or anything.
1997: Kevin Grimes, Graham Belak, Rick Berry, Ville Nieminen, Brad Larsen, Aaron Miskovich, David Aebischer, Doug Schmidt, Kyle Kidney, Steve Lafleur
Ok -- I'm a pretty big Avalanche fan, and in 1997 I was probably watching the draft. But for the life of me I cannot remember anything about Kevin Grimes. Uh, according to hockeydb.com, he hasn't played since 2004. And he appears to have been a tough defenseman. That's about it. As an added bonus, the Avs managed to find the less-talented Belak brother. Only Aebischer keeps this from being a comically bad year. Best player: Abby, by a mile.
1998: Alex Tanguay, Martin Skoula, Robyn Regehr, Scott Parker, Ramzi Abid, Philippe Sauve, Steve Moore, Evgeny Lazarev, K.C. Timmons, Alex Riazantzev
The odd year out. Giving us hope that the Avs were perpetually self-sustaining, Lacroix accumulated four first round picks, in exchange for Mike Ricci, Stephane Fiset, Chris Simon, Curtis Leschyshyn, Landon Wilson and Anders Myrvold. There were rumors that the four would be swapped for the number one pick, giving Colorado the Michael Jordan of the NHL; that didn't happen, obviously, but they still came away with four NHL regulars. Unfortunately, those four were eventually swapped out, most depressingly in the Regehr/Corbet for Theo Fleury trade. Added bonus for the year: I've seen Riazantzev spelled more different ways than any name I've ever seen. Best player: Regehr.
1999: Mikhail Kuleshov, Martin Grenier, Branko Radivojevic, Sanny Lindstrom, Kristian Kovac, Will Magnuson, Jordan Krestanovich, Anders Lovdahl, Riku Hahl, Radim Vrbata, Jeff Finger
Ah, Mikhail Kuleshov, perhaps the biggest disappointment. The early reports indicated this rarely-seen Russian winger was a diamond in the rough -- then it took a few years to get over, and he was a fringe AHLer when he got here. Grenier was part of the "I was traded for Ray Bourque" club. Of the full-time NHLers here, two of them were in the last three picks. Best player: Vrbata.
2000: Vaclav Nedorost, Jared Aulin, Sergei Soin, Agris Saviels, Kurt Sauer, Sergei Klyazmin, Brian Fahey, John-Michael Liles, Chris Bahen, Aaron Molnar, Darryl Bootland, Sean Kotary, Blake Ward
Or perhaps Nedorost is the biggest disappointment. He came to Colorado mucho hyped, made the cover of local magazines as the star of the new century, and so on, and ended up traded for Peter Worrell. He's back in Ceske Budejovice now, I think. Beyond that? I hadn't realized that the Avs originally drafted Kurt Sauer or Darryl Bootland. Learn something new every day. Best player: Liles
2001: Peter Budaj, Danny Bois, Colt King, Frantisek Skladany, Cody McCormick, Miiko Viitanen, Pierre-Luc Emond, Scott Horvath, Charlie Stephens, Marek Svatos
Two solid contributors bookending a bunch of minor-leaguers. It's about time for me to stop thinking that Mikko Viitanen's going to be a NHL star. Best player: Svatos.
I'll rather arbitratily stop here -- after 2001 it's probably still a bit early to tell, and it saves me having to contemplate that the Avs gave up Tom Gilbert for Tommy Salo.
But -- am I wrong here? Does this seem a bit below-par for a team over the same time period? Only the 1996 and 1998 classes can really be considered at all productive, beyond a player here or there. I'm not a stats guy -- or rather, I like stats but only when other people do them. So I really don't know if this is just about average. What say you?