Avs prioritize defensemen in late rounds


Chris MacFarland and Joe Sakic could have slept in Thursday before setting up shop at Bridgestone Arena if they wanted.

The Avalanche waited almost four rounds to make their first selection on the second day of the 2023 NHL draft. Then they proceeded to prioritize defensemen in the rebuild of their farm system.

At No. 155 late in the fifth round, the Avalanche picked another Russian blueliner, Nikita Ishimnikov. Then at No. 187 in the sixth, they selected Seattle Thunderbirds assistant captain Jeremy Hanzel, another D-man. Their final pick at No. 219 was Slovakian center Maros Jedlicka.

Colorado made five total picks in the draft, using three of its first four on defensemen starting with Mikhail Gulyayev at No. 31 in the first round.

Ishimnikov is the opposite of Gulyayev in many ways. Gulyayev thrives offensively in spite of his size; Ishimnikov’s skill set is based around his strength. At 6-foot-3, he has 5 inches on Gulyayev but doesn’t profile as the most proficient skater. He still produces points with a blistering shot, which helped him tally 11 goals in 41 games last season in the Russian junior league. He added six points in seven playoff games.

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