It's no secret that the Avalanche will be looking for a solid defenseman in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft in a couple of months. The team drew the 14th pick in the lottery and are poised to claim a talented player in a relatively talented field. While this year's draft isn't quite as stacked with phenoms as the past few have been (think Crosby, Ovechkin, Malkin, Stastny, Kopitar, Phaneuf, etc.), it's not terrible, either.
As far as defensemen go, however, the field is limited. Only three blueliners can be found in the final top 15 of the ISS prospect rankings.
One of them, coincidentally ranked 14th and therefore likely still available when the Avalanche get their pick in the first round, is Nick Petrecki. A 6-3, 213-pounder from New York, Petrecki plays with the USHL junior team Omaha Lancers. He plays a big, physical game and throws his weight around. His scoring is in the 20-30 point range, but his real strengths are his super-hard slap shot and his super-hard body checks. Considering the Avalanche have one of the least-physical defensive pools in the NHL, a prospect like Petrecki could really prove useful in a few years.
According to a glowing profile at SI.com:
"He intimidates. He creates a lot of time and space for other players," (his coach Mike) Hastings says. "[Opposing] players have a tendency to look to see where he's at and not because they want to stand next to him. He sometimes looks like that kid in peewees who had that growth spurt that nobody else had yet -- a man among boys."
Petrecki will attend Boston College next year, where their elite program will no doubt benefit his development into an NHL-caliber defenseman.
All that aside, the Avalanche will pick the most talented player still available when their draft number comes up---as they always have---whether it's a defenseman or forward. Though the team suffers from a glut of forwards at the moment, a talented center or winger taken now could easily be used to pad a trade for some other talented defenseman later on. Any skilled player can be used as a bargaining chip, so they don't have to grab the best d-man still available in the draft when it's their turn to pick.
Petrecki could be an asset to the team if he is indeed chosen by the Avs. It will be interesting, regardless, to see who the Avs pick.