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Avalanche look to future, select five prospects in 2020 NHL Draft, capped by Barron in first round


While the NHL Draft is typically held in an arena setting each year in late June, the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans this season.

The 2020 NHL Draft was held virtually Oct. 6-7, with picks being made online and many using video programs, such as Zoom.

For the Colorado Avalanche, the team made five picks during the draft, and came away with five players that all have impressive resumes.

The Avalanche chose defenseman Justin Barron (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL) in the first round (25th overall), forward Jean-Luc Foudy (Windsor Spitfires, OHL) in the third round (75th overall), forward Colby Ambrosio (Tri-City Storm, USHL) in the fourth round (118th overall), forward Ryder Rolston (Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL) in the fifth round (139th overall) and forward Nils Aman (Leksands IF, Sweden) in the sixth round (167th overall).

Barron put up 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 34 games in the shortened 2019-20 campaign and will captain the Mooseheads during the 2020-21 season.

“It was a long night sitting there, but it’s all worth it,” Barron said. “I couldn’t be happier to be a part of the Avalanche organization.”

When asked to describe his game, Barron checked off many boxes.

“I think I skate really well and think the game really well – I think those are my two biggest strengths,” he said. “I kind of pride myself on being a guy that can play on the PK, play on the power play, play last minute of the game and a guy that can play against other team’s top lines. I think I kind of bring a mix in that sense of a two-way style defenseman game.”

Avalanche GM Joe Sakic said he was excited when Colorado was next to select and Barron was still available.

“He was a guy that we had ranked higher than where we got him,” Sakic said. “He’s really going to add to the way we like to play the game. We like to play from the back end with a lot of speed, a lot of puck-moving ability, and he’s a real good two-way player. He can defend well and penalty kill as well.”

And even though Barron missed time last season with an injury that led to a blood clot, he will be good to start playing for the Mooseheads in a couple more weeks once his recovery from offseason surgery is complete.

“He got a clean bill of health from the doctors, so no issue there,” Sakic said. “It’s the same sort of stuff that a couple players in the National Hockey League have had, and they have no problem after the procedure. We were very confident in that.”

“I think just moving forward this year with Halifax, I think we have a really good team,” Barron said. “I know for me I want to be a big player on that team and play a big role. Honestly, just work on all aspects of my game and hopefully dominate a little bit more. I know for me to get so close to the President’s Cup and Memorial Cup two years ago, it’s definitely been a goal of mine to get back there. I’m definitely hungry and eager to hopefully get there and achieve that.

“I just think it is important to keep working, know that you’re going to recover, there are brighter days ahead. I think being here in Halifax and with the Mooseheads and with my family and just having good people around me, that made it even easier for me. I’m really thankful for them.”

Foudy completed his second season with Windsor in 2019-20, recording 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 59 games.

A Boston College freshman in 2020-21, Ambrosio spent the last two seasons with Tri-City and posted 50 points (26 goals, 24 assists) in 48 games during the 2019-20 season.

In the fifth round, Colorado acquired the 139th overall pick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for the 149th overall pick and the Avs’ seventh-round selection (211th overall). With the 139th pick, the Avalanche selected Rolston, who notched 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 42 games for the Black Hawks in 2019-20. He’ll be playing for the University of Notre Dame this season.

Rolston is also the son of former NHL forward Brian Rolston, who played 50 games for the Avalanche in 1999-2000.

Aman played last season in the Swedish Hockey League, Sweden’s top professional hockey league. He has skated in four games for Leksands IF so far this season. He spent most of the 2019-20 campaign with Leksands IF’s junior team in the SuperElit, Sweden’s top junior league, where he tallied 47 points (14 goals, 33 assists) in 30 games.

(Oct. 8, 2020)

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