I've heard rumblings that Finnish C Aleksander Barkov is the target for the Colorado Avalanche as we approach the 2013 NHL Draft.
This may come as a shock to some people, but it shouldn't be. I remember watching him for the first time when he was a young 16 year old at the 2012 World Juniors for Finland. He was one of the youngest players at the event as he had just turned 16 that September. He stood out in amazing fashion. He was big, had great offensive and defensive instincts and ended up with 4 points in 7 games. He also posted 16 points in 32 games in the Finnish Elite League that season, as a 16 year old.
He transitioned into his draft year this past season, putting up 7 points in 6 games at the 2013 World Juniors in Russia. It was also his second year in the Finnish League with Tappara and he ended up posting 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games before an injury ended his season.
He enters the 2013 NHL Entry Draft as one of the youngest players available and was involved in one-on-one interviews with the Avalanche at the recent combine in Toronto.
As for his style of game, he's very similar to Anze Kopitar. He's big, he's fluid, he's got great hockey sense, good vision and a good shot. His skating has been considered his biggest weakness over the last few years, and it's still probably his biggest weakness, but it has definitely improved.
So how do the Avalanche get their hands on him, if he is their true target? With the buzz surrounding the "Big 3", it would be safe to assume the organization is doing their best to drive up the price of the first overall pick.
A published article from the Denver Post last night would aid that speculation. "If we do pick first, we're leaning more
toward one of those three forwards," Avalanche executive vice president
of hockey operations Joe Sakic told Adrian Dater and The Denver Post. Sakic is referring to Barkov, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. Seth Jones was widely considered the favorite to go first overall to Colorado. It just makes too much sense, that is unless you know what's truly gone on in the Avalanche pre-draft meetings. Not every team sees things as the mass "consensus" observe things.
It would be safe to assume that the Avalanche would want to trade down into the second or third overall spot, picking up an asset, and still getting their hands on their true number one target in Barkov. But, that can be a risky game. You never quite know 100% which teams have which prospects slotted where.
To me, the most logical assumption would be that the Avalanche will look to swap with Florida, picking up an asset in the mold of the Panthers 2nd round pick or a player/prospect. Names like Brian Campbell, Quinton Howden, Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad could all be appealing in some form of a deal. This would then allow the Cats to draft Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche to gain an asset and their guy.
More info on Barkov: http://futureconsiderations.ca/?s=ALEKSANDER%20BARKOV