The NHL Entry Draft always comes with a lot of question marks, but this weekend’s statistics are the most challenging of all.
Many amateur leagues around the world played shorter seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and some, such as the Ontario Hockey League, did not play at all. In-person scouting was curtailed due to international travel – particularly to Canada – so video and word-of-mouth often replaced live viewing.
But the Avalanche’s new director of amateur scouting, Wade Klippenstein, says he is up to the challenge.
“With secrets comes opportunity,” he said in a video conference call on Tuesday. “…we’ve come up with some creative ways to emulate what we didn’t see, whether it’s through our analytics department, whether it’s through video or other means. I think what we need is Have to work with, every team has done their best with him. It’s not ideal. It would be nice to see more players live, but I think there’s incredible opportunity with this draft.
The avalanche winning the Presidents Trophy may benefit some players by watching them slide.
The AVS have four picks in their seven-round draft, but their first pick doesn’t come until number 28 in Friday’s first round. He took his 61st pick late in Saturday’s second round from New Jersey as part of trading defenseman Ryan Graves to the Devils last week, and he also has third- (92nd) and seventh-round (220th) picks. Huh.
Klippenstein, previously an amateur scout for the Avs since 2016, replaces Alan Hepple, who is now director of pro scouting for the Arizona Coyotes. Hepel’s contract was not renewed by AVS.
Klippenstein, 51, said Colorado’s approach to the draft has not changed.
“We really stick to that best-player-available (philosophy),” he said. “When we make our list, we make our list without considering where we’re going to pick because it can change at any time. So it’s the best player available every time.”
He continued: “In this draft, like a lot of drafts, there are some places that have good depth. This year it will be a little different than others. There is some mystery in this draft, some lesser-visited places. Look at the Ontario Hockey League, the depth there is still to be determined. I’d say it’s an average draft. Average is probably the best way to describe it.”
Klippenstein has enormous wits over the University of Denver, the perennial NCAA powerhouse that annually develops NHL talent. He was a Pioneers assistant coach Tavis McMillan and Dallas Ferguson’s Alaska-Fairbanks teammate in the early 1990s, and the trio coached the Nanooks for three seasons from 2004 to ’07. Macmillan was the head coach.
“It’s strange how life turns and sometimes goes full circle,” Klippenstein said. “Both players were my teammates not only as players but also as part of a coaching staff in Alaska. Some of my best memories in hockey, some of my best friends in hockey. So it’s a great dynamic.
“It’s clear how it’s coming back here with me working with the people who live at AVS and DU. Two great hockey minds, on whom I sometimes depend too much, and vice versa, So it’s been a great relationship in the early 1990s. Those two guys have come a long way in this hockey world.”