photo courtesy Jay LePrete/AP
With a noticeable lack of depth in defensive prospects, the Avalanche surprised no one by picking a defenseman in the first round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The lucky young man? None other than captain of the silver medal US under-18 team, Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk hails from Greenwich, Connecticut and has been compared to current Avalanche d-man (and fellow American) John-Michael Liles.
Shattenkirk is 5-11, 193 pounds, so he's not exactly tall but he has a solid build. His style of play is offensively-geared, which is not quite what the Avalanche are most in need of at the moment. The team still lacks a physical, stay-at-home blueliner with hitting ability and a mean streak. Shattenkirk is not that guy. The Avs passed on Nicholas Petrecki, a high-ranking defenseman who is that guy, in favor of more offense, something the team hasn't lacked in years. Petrecki was eventually chosen 28th by the San Jose Sharks.
But, draft picks rarely make an immediate transition into the NHL. Petrecki won't be ready to play at hockey's top level for some time, so the Avs didn't exactly blow a huge opportunity. Shattenkirk is young and should develop well, and by the time he's ready to enter the lineup, offensive d-men like Liles and/or Jordan Leopold could be long gone. He will play for hockey superpower Boston University next year, a great place to hone his skills. The Avalanche could have done much worse with their first pick.
With three picks in the second round and three more over the next five after that, the Avalanche still have the opportunity to increase their defensive depth. They should probably pick up a goalie while they're at it, too.