Connect with us

Chicago Blackhawks

Draft and Develop To Win A Cup? A look at the ’21-22 Colorado Avalanche



The Chicago Blackhawks are at the start of a full-on rebuild. The question as they progress through what is likely rock bottom: Is there a common formula for building a champion? Does draft and develop really work? Chicago Hockey Now will look at every champion from the Cap Era to see how things have evolved over time. CHN starts with the 2021-2022 Colorado Avalanche

The 2021-22 Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche were a long time coming. It’s just a matter of how long is too long when building a Stanley Cup champion.

But for all the attention paid to drafting and developing talent in order to build a champion, how does this Stanley Cup champion get built?

We’ll look at when their rebuild began, the number of years it took to win, and just how much of their roster was built using the players they drafted.

Colorado Avalanche Build A Bit Unconventional

The Avalanche went about things differently. In 2009, they took Matt Duchene third overall just a season after being bounced in the second round of the playoffs. After a playoff trip again, they’d miss again for the next three seasons. In that time, two of their critical pieces were drafted in Gabriel Landeskog (2011, second overall) and then Nathan MacKinnon (2013, first overall). Both would hoist a Stanley Cup nine years after MacKinnon was selected.

They would be the two highest picks until Cale Makar in 2017–which obviously is a third crucial piece and likely one of the most important. The other important one? Mikko Rantanen, taken tenth overall in 2015. So of the core pieces, three were taken in the top five while a fourth was in the top ten. Those four led the team in points during the Cup run. A fifth taken was Bowen Byram, taken fourth overall in 2019 and getting his first real look during that playoff run. The sixth was Alex Newhook, selected 16th in the same draft as Byram.

This rounds out to 26% of the roster being drafted by the Avalanche and being on the title winning roster.

From there? Well, this is where it gets interesting.

Former First Round Picks Dot The Playoff Roster

The bulk of the playoff roster, then, was acquired by free agency and trade. A few of those trades, namely the Duchene deal, was an absolute haul for Colorado. It netted Samuel Girard amongst other players as well as several draft picks. But it’s the other former first-round picks that should generate attention, too.

Valeri Nichushkin was one of the biggest heists–signed as a free agent after Dallas put the former 13th overall pick on waivers and bought him out. That price Colorado signed him for? $850k.

The list of first round picks on the roster not drafted by Colorado:

  • Nichushkin (2013 13th overall – UFA)
  • Nazem Kadri (2009 7th overall – Trade)
  • Andre Burakovsky (2013 23rd overall – Trade)
  • Andrew Cogliano (2009 25th overall – Trade)
  • Erik Johnson (2006 1st overall – Trade)
  • Jack Johnson (2005 3rd overall – UFA)

Keeping tally – that’s 12 of the 23 names on the roster taken in the first round. Nearly half, then, of those players were first round picks.

From there, the rest of the Stanley Cup winning Colorado Avalanche was constructed through free agency and trades with a smattering of players selected in the second round, later rounds, and even undrafted free agents.

What Can The Blackhawks Learn From Their Success?

It takes time and smart trades. Johnson was acquired over a decade before the Avs finally hoisted the Cup. Nichushkin was signed for next to nothing before finding his way after struggling in Dallas.

But many of those deals included players taken in the first round, which shows that the vast majority of their championship roster rested on the bulk of first-round choices–whether in Colorado or elsewhere.

Granted, some were already past their prime year. But first-round talent is still first-round talent. To be fair, there were other names on the roster in the regular season. But the purposes of this article is showing that the playoff roster–the one that won a Cup–is comprised of a clip of nearly 50% of first-round picks.

In the first of our case study, the Blackhawks prospects that are the likeliest to make it will be their first round selections–and perhaps at some point, a few will be used to gain players who will help fortify a championship roster.

So the verdict in our first look? Draft and develop holds its place but so far, is just a small portion of building a true champion.

Follow Chicago Hockey Now on Facebook and Twitter

Follow Nate on Twitter

Discover more from Chicago Hockey Now

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue Reading