Keep an eye out for these under the radar Colorado prospects
At seasons end and 11 years removed from their second Stanley cup championship, the Colorado Avalanche found themselves dead last in the Western Conference for the second time in the franchise's 18 year history in Denver. The departure of Avs mainstay and fourth all-time leading scorer, Milan Hejduk, marks the dawn of a new era with Avalanche legend Patrick Roy and his "two Stanley Cup rings plugging his ear," behind the bench leading an impressive crop of young guns, including 2013 NHL Entry Draft No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon, eager to get this once proud franchise back on track and back into the playoffs after a three years absence in the re-aligned Central Division.
Chris Bigras – Round 2, 32 Overall, 2013 NHL Entry Draft
Working out of the shadows of first overall selection Nathan MacKinnon, 18-year-old second rounder Chris Bigras is as green as they come. With just 117 Ontario League games under his belt over two seasons, he faces a long road of development but stands out as one of the more impressive defensive picks of the 2013 Entry Draft. Touted by scouts as an outstanding skater with great vision, the 6-foot-1, 186 pound Bigras is a solid positional defenseman with the ability to contribute offensively. Over his two seasons in the OHL, Bigras posted 57 points in 117 games and an impressive plus-35 with the Owen Sound Attack last season.
Michael Sgarbossa – Undrafted (Rights Acquired from San Jose)
A under the radar acquisition, 21-year-old centre Michael Sgarbossa was claimed by the Avs in a five-player deal Feb. 2012 involving Jamie McGinn, T.J. Galiardi and Daniel Winnik after a career defining 102 points in 66 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Sudbury Wolves. Sgarbossa is touted as a natural playmaker and two-way forward. Sgarbossa made his NHL debut last season, pointless and minus-3 in six games. The biggest concerns surrounding Sgarbossa are in his size, standing at just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, he will most certainly spend next season with Avs AHL affiliate Lake Erie Monsters, as he bulks up. Still, Sgarbossa has tremendous upside as a play-making centre and remains a viable option for most keep leagues as he begins his pro career in the American League.
Brad Malone – Round 4, 105 Overall, 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Brad Malone, 24, made his NHL debut two seasons ago and on Jan. 28 in Edmonton he made his 2012-13 debut and would go on to score a goal and an assist in 13 NHL contests. Touted by scouts as a physical two-way forward, he has shown some decent scoring ability in the American League, posting 24 points in 63 games with Lake Erie last season; however, his NHL career will likely be defined as a defensive forward or grinder, using his 6-foot-1, 207 pound frame to play a physical game. Malone is no stranger to hockey's extracurricular activities, dropping the gloves twice in his 13 game NHL stint last season, once against Nashville enforcer Rich Clune and danced again a few weeks later with Columbus' James Wisniewski. Malone has little fantasy upside, however could contribute in the PIM column in applicable leagues.
Tyson Barrie – Round 3, 64 Overall, 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Tyson Barrie remains Colorado's most coveted defensive prospect. He contributed 29 points in 38 games on a struggling Lake Erie team last season, exemplifying his outstanding offensive ability. Barrie has pretty much solidified a full-time spot in the The Show, though some may argue he still lacks the ideal size for an NHL defenseman. He possesses tremendous fantasy upside and he remains the franchise's biggest piece on defense for the future.