PHILADELPHIA – The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club made seven selections at the 2014 NHL Draft held Friday and Saturday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
Colorado picked four forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender at this year's draft. The Avs selected two players from the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and one each from the Western Hockey League, Slovakia and Sweden.
"I think it was a successful weekend as we accomplished our goals and followed our draft plan," said Avalanche Director of Amateur Scouting Rick Pracey. "Addressing our overall depth and bringing in increased size at all positions were two important factors for us, and I think we did that."
During the first round on Friday, the Avalanche selected forward Conner Bleackley with the No. 23 overall pick. Bleackley, 18, led the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League with 68 points last season and finished tied for the team lead in goals with 29. Named captain of Red Deer at the age of 17, the High River, Alberta native began the 2013-14 campaign with eight goals and 19 points in his first 15 games, surpassing the total of his entire 2012-13 campaign—his first in the WHL—where he scored 18 points (9g/9a) in 66 games.
The 6-foot, 197-pound center was an alternate captain on Canada's bronze-medal winning team at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship where he recorded two points (1g/1a). Bleackley also wore an 'A' on his chest for Team Pacific at the 2013 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, picking up four points (3g/1a) in five games.
Colorado's first selection on the second day of the draft (No. 84 overall in the third round) was defenseman Kyle Wood. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Wood had 12 points (2g/10a) in 33 games with the North Bay Battalion of the OHL last season. The 18-year-old registered 10 points (2g/8a) in 22 postseason games in 2014 to help North Bay reach the league finals. A native of Waterloo, Ontario, Wood has played in 49 regular-season games and 28 playoff contests over the past two seasons.
The Avalanche held two fourth-round picks, and the team used its first at No. 93 overall on right wing Nicholas Magyar from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. Magyar, 18, led the Rangers this past season with 46 points (20g/26a) in 66 games. He was the first rookie to lead Kitchener in scoring since 1999-2000 (Derek Roy). The 6-foot-2, 194-pound forward shared the team's rookie of the year award with Ryan MacInnis and was named to the OHL's Scholastic Team. The Cleveland, Ohio native was a member of Team USA at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria where he had a goal and two assists in six games.
For its second selection in the fourth round and 114th overall, Colorado chose left wing Alexis Pepin from Gatineau of the QMJHL. Pepin, 18, split his 2013-14 season with Charlottetown and Gatineau and finished with a total of 34 points (17g/17a) in 60 games. The 6-foot-2, 229-pound forward had 30 points (18g/12a) in his first major junior season in 2012-13 with Prince Edward Island.
On the international stage, the Montreal native Pepin was a member of Canada's Under-18 team at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and was on Team Quebec at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, where scored three goals and had four assists in six games.
Colorado selected defenseman Anton Lindholm of Sweden in the fifth round and at 144th overall. Lindholm, 19, had six points (1g/5a) in 39 games last season with his hometown junior team, Skelleftea. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound defenseman also played seven professional games in 2013-14 with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League. The D-man has played in 122 total games with the Skelleftea junior club in the SuperElit league where he has recorded 20 points (3g/17a) and 82 penalty minutes from 2010 to 2014.
Goaltender Maximilian Pajpach of Slovakia was the Avs' sixth-round selection (174th overall). The Poprad, Slovakia native spent most of his 2013-14 campaign with Team Slovakia's Under-18 team where he had a 4.32 goals-against average and .867 save percentage in 14 games. Pajpach, 18, also played two games last year for the Slovakia Under-20 team. The 6-foot-1, 209-pound netminder had previously played in 82 career games with the HK SKP Poprad's U18 and U20 squads from 2010 to 2014. NHL Central Scouting rated him as the ninth best European goalie in this year's draft.
The Avalanche's final selection (seventh round, 204th overall) was forward Julien Nantel of Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL. Nantel, 17, was the second-highest scoring rookie for the Huskies last season with 34 points (14g/20a) in 68 games. He also had four assists in nine playoff games. The 6-foot, 193-pound forward was rated No. 51 among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings for the 2014 draft. Born in Laval, Quebec, Nantel was one of three midget players on Team Quebec's fourth-place squad at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.