Colorado Rubber

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Avalanche welcome new talented quartet to organization after 2021 NHL Draft


Due to past trades, the Colorado Avalanche held just four picks at last weekend’s NHL Draft, but GM Joe Sakic made all four count, especially on the offensive side.

Colorado started off taking Swedish forward Oskar Olausson in the first round (28th overall) on Friday night out of the HV71 program overseas.

On the second day, the Avalanche snagged incoming University of Denver defenseman Sean Behrens in the second round (61st overall), forward Andrei Buyalsky in the third round (92nd overall) and then finishing with forward Taylor Makar (younger brother of Avs blueliner Cale Makar) in the seventh round (220th overall).

Olausson made his debut in the Swedish Hockey League last season and recorded four points (three goals, assist) in 16 games for HV71. He began the year with HV71’s team in J20 Nationell, Sweden’s junior league, and collected 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 16 games before joining the senior team. Olausson was then loaned to Södertälje, a team Sweden’s second-tier league to finish the season, collecting six points (three games, three assists) in 11 games.

“He’s a big, mobile, good skating winger whose got a great shot,” Sakic said. “A knack for scoring goals. He’s hard on the puck and he takes pucks to the net, and we’re excited for that skill set.”

Olausson is planning on staying in Sweden in 2021-22 for his first full professional campaign with HV71 in the Allsvenskan league.

Behrens skated for USA Hockey’s NTDP Under-18 Team for the 2020-21 season, producing 35 points (seven goals, 28 assists) in 46 games.

“Our guys are really excited to have him,” Sakic said. “He’s not the tallest D-man in the world, but he plays hard. He plays at a bigger size than he really is. A really competitive guy that is in your face, moves the puck, really shifty, plays a complete game. For somebody that doesn’t have any weaknesses, he does all of the little things right. He’s going to a great spot at DU, so it’s going to be nice right up the road watching him develop the next few years at DU.”

Buyalsky played with the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL, recording 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games for Dubuque in 2020-21.

As a 20-year-old, Buyalsky was in his final year of draft eligibility and was the only selection from Kazakhstan and Colorado’s first from the nation.

He’ll play for the University of Vermont in the fall.

Makar spent the 2020-21 campaign with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, recording 19 points (five goals, 14 assists) in 16 games while serving as captain.

The Makar brothers are the only two players the franchise has selected from the AJHL.

Like Cale, Taylor will play college hockey at the University of Massachusetts.

“He’s come a long way, (and) every year he’s gotten better and better,” Sakic said. “He really took a big step, and we’re excited. Obviously, he’s going to UMass as well and he has a lot of time to develop, so we’re excited to have him. He’s a competitive guy that is a bigger guy, 6-foot-3, that we have high hopes for down the line as he develops.”

Cale gave his own scouting report of Taylor earlier in the day after signing his new six-year, $54-million contract with the Avalanche.

“He is just a very hard-working kid,” Cale Makar said. “I compare him to kind of like, similar to like a Josh Anderson but the peskiness of one of the Tkachuk brothers, like a Matthew Tkachuk and stuff. He’s definitely got a bright future, and he is already taller than me. I think he’s 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3 now.”

— Matt Mackinder

(July 28, 2021)

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