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2014 draft review: Bleackley headlines a solid draft class for the Avalanche

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The 2014 NHL Entry draft wrapped up on Saturday. The Colorado Avalanche added a total of seven players, including four forwards, two defensemen and a goaltender.

The crop was headlined by first round selection (23rd overall) Connor Bleackley. Bleackley is a two-way forward, who grew up rooting for the Avalanche and idolizing Joe Sakic (his new boss).

“If there is one place I had to go, that was the place I would want to go,” said Bleackley Now that it has happened, it's really a dream come true."

In total, the Avalanche took two players from each of the Canadian junior leagues leagues (the WHL, OHL and QMJHL), one from Sweden and one from Slovakia. Something that jumps out about the class is their size, as the picks are all at least six feet tall and weigh at least 191 pounds.

“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."

Many experts believed the Avalanche would select a power forward in the first round (with Brendan Lemieux being the likely choice), but Pracey was hoping that Bleackley would fall to the Avalanche. The signings of prospects Borna Rendulic, Samuel Henley and Dennis Everberg might have also alleviated that organizational need, as all three are considered power forwards , and are at least 6-3 and 200 pounds.

Here is a look at the 2014 draft class for the Colorado Avalanche

Connor Bleackley
Connor Bleackley Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Connor Bleackley

Drafted: First round (23rd overall) Team: Red Deer (WHL) Pos: Center Ht: 6-0 Wt: 197 Shoots: Right

2013-2014 stats: GP: 71 G: 29 A: 39 P: 68 PIM: 48

While Bleackley may not have any elite traits, he is a tenacious worker in all three zones and has a high hockey IQ.   He is a versatile player, who can play center or wing on any line.  Possesses leadership potential, serving as captain for the Red Deer Rebels.  Likes to play in the corners and has a good shot with a quick release. His biggest weakness is said to be his skating.

Kyle Wood
Kyle Wood Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Kyle Wood

Drafted: Third round (84th overall) Team: North Bay (OHL) Pos: Defenseman Ht: 6-4 Wt: 195 Shoots: Right

2013-2014 stats: GP: 33 G: 2 A: 10 P: 12 PIM: 21

A hulking stay-at-home defenseman, Wood may actually be closer to 228 pounds already according to some reports. That being said, he could stand to be more physical.  He missed half of the season with an injury. Unranked in the CSS midterm rankings, Wood drastically improved his draft stock with a big playoffs, where he has 10 points in 22 games.

Nicholas Magyar
Nicholas Magyar Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Nicholas Magyar

Drafted: Fourth round (93rd overall) Team: Kitchner (OHL) Pos: Right wing Ht: 6-2 Wt: 194 Shoots: Right

2013-2014 stats: GP:66 G: 20 A: 26 P: 46 PIM: 20

Although he is still raw, Magyar led the Kitchner Rangers in scoring last season. He is a smart player, who likes to hit and is great in the corners. Ranked as the 32nd best North American skater, it is surprising that he fell into the fourth round.  He is a solid power forward prospect, but will need more seasoning in juniors before making the jump to the pros.

Alexis Pepin
Alexis Pepin Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Alexis Pepin

Drafted: Fourth round (114th overall) Team: Gatineau (QMJHL) Pos: Left wing Ht: 6-2 Wt: 229 Shoots: Left

2013-2014 stats: GP: 60 G: 17 A: 17 P: 34 PIM: 69

Big and truculent, there is a surprising amount of upside in Pepin’s game. He does the things expected for his size (some say he is closer to 238 pounds), like hitting and fighting.  But he also uses his size to protect the puck very effectively.  He has a good shot, but has a tendency to get tripped up.  He could develop into a solid power forward.

Anton Lindholm
Anton Lindholm Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Anton Lindholm

Drafted: Fifth round (144th overall) Team: Skelleftea Jr. (Sweden-Jr.) Pos: Defenseman Ht: 6-0 Wt: 191 Shoots: Left

2013-2014 stats:  GP: 39 G: 1 A: 5 P: 6 PIM: 34

Lindholm has a high compete level and battles more than would be expected for his size.  He played seven regular season games for Skelleftea’s senior team without registering a point.  Where he really impressed was in the playoffs.  Again, he joined the senior team; playing in 14 contests and registering three points (and an impressive plus-seven rating) en route to an SHL Championship.

Maximilian Pajpach
Maximilian Pajpach Tomáš Lysý/Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup

Maximilian Pajpach

Drafted: Sixth round (174th overall) Team: Slovakia U18 (Slovakia-2) Position: Goaltender Ht: 6-1 Wt: 209 Catches: Right

2013-2014 stats: GP: 14 GAA: 4.32 SV%: .867

Pajpach was the ninth ranked European goaltender in the draft. Next season, he will move to the Finnish SM-Liiga. While his stats may not be too impressive, he was on a lot of bad defensive teams and faced a lot of high quality shots. He is a big goalie who moves well.  His biggest issue is rebound control.

Julien Nantel
Julien Nantel Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Julien Nantel

Drafted: Seventh round (204th overall) Team: Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL) Position: Center/Left Wing Ht: 6-0 Wt: 193 Shoots: Left

2013-2014 stats: GP: 68 G: 14 A: 20 P: 34 PIM: 18

Graded as the 51st best North American prospect, Nantel fell in the draft in a big way.  Expected to be a min-round pick, the suspected culprits for the slip are a lack of consistency and tendency to take games off.  Nantel’s game is predicated on speed and he has plenty of it.  He is also responsible defensively and versatile.

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