The Colorado Avalanche’s defensive and goaltending prospects occupy eight of its top 10 spots. From offensive-minded defensemen to stay at home defenders, the Avs’ future on the blue line is looking bright. The biggest problem Colorado is facing is a lack of premium offensive talent in its system. Michael Sgarbossa and Joey Hishon have the potential to be impact NHL players, but the list ends there. Colorado is stacked with undersized forwards who consistently get hurt playing too physically on the ice.
1. (1) Stefan Elliott, D, 7.5B
Drafted 2nd round, 49th overall, 2009
Stefan Elliott still heads the Colorado Avalanche’s stacked defensive youth. The second-round pick plays the game with a quiet confidence and above average puck-handling. His biggest asset comes in the offensive zone. He can quarterback the power play and walk the blue line to navigate his wrist shot through traffic. Last year, Elliot saw time with both Lake Erie and Colorado and posted a combined 27 points. In his 39 games with Colorado he showed his good speed and playmaking ability, scoring four goals, nine assists but also making mistakes at key times in the games.
A former winner of the Bull Hunter Memorial Trophy awarded to the WHL’s top defender, Elliott has a keen sense of awareness when it comes to reading plays and joining the rush. His strong play in the offense zone has earned him NHL games, but he still needs to prime his ability in his own zone. As a 21-year-old, Elliott has plenty of time to become more defensively responsible, which will be the final step in him becoming a complete defenseman.