The Avalanche drafted Matt Duchene in the first round in 2009 at No.3. Two years later in 2011,  Gabriel Landeskog went to Colorado in the first round at No. 2. Another two years later, in 2013, Nathan MacKinnon was the team’s first round pick at No. 1 overall. Two years have passed again. Do the Avs have another big name in store for 2015?

There is something different this year, though. In each of those prior selections the Avs have had a top three pick. This year, they sit at No. 10. If that cycle had continued, they might have acquired a big name like Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel, but those two will be long gone before No. 10 rolls around.

Having a No. 10 pick isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means the Avs didn’t have a good enough season to advance to the postseason and they didn’t have a bad enough season to earn a top three draft pick. For fans in Colorado, that might have been for the best; they’ve seen ugly seasons of late and are ready to get back to seasons that run well into May and June.

Fortunately for Colorado, they don’t have to depend on a top three pick to land an impact player this year. The 2015 draft pool is deep. It doesn’t matter if they have the No. 2 pick or the No. 10 pick. They are going to net a good player. So who are the Avs going to get? And could he be the next Duchene, Landy or MacKinnon?

In multiple mock drafts left wing Lawson Crouse has come up quite often. Sites like Today’s Slapshot believe that he will be the Avalanche’s first round pick. Crouse has been catching the eye of many teams and for good reason. He has the size and the talent that can build in the NHL.

Crouse can move very well with the puck and he has effective passing skills. For his size, 6-foot-4, 212 pounds, he has good skating skills but his strongest attribute would be his power and his size. He is a force to be reckoned with on defense. He would be a great addition to the Avs because of his forcefulness. Colorado would benefit from a big defensive guy who can skate well, can get in and push for takeaways.

However, another name has recently surfaced that might push Crouse out of the way, even if he is still on the board when the Avs No. 10 selection comes around: Mikko Rantanen. But who is this kid? According to, the 6-foot-4, 210 pound, right wing is a tough defender and aggressive forechecker. The Finnish hockey star plays the two-way game necessary to make an impact in the NHL at a young age. Rantanen is a beast on the boards and uses his strength and arm length to create space and to make passes.

As the draft gets closer, the more teams are realizing what an asset Rantanen can be. The Philidelphia Flyers have an eye on him at the No. 7 spot.

“The Flyers do have a bit of a weakness on the wings in their system, which is why so many folks out there have pegged Rantanen as a possible pick for the Flyers at No. 7,” says

Maybe the Flyers will go with their predicted pick, Ivan Provorov and the Avs will end up with Rantanen.

With such a deep draft, it’s possible Crouse and Rantanen might not even be available come time for No. 10. In other mock drafts, both have gone as high as No. 5.

The Avs choices in 2015 may not be as clear-cut as in previous years, but with so much depth in this year’s class they can be confident that they’ll land an impact player to skate alongside the foundation they began building with Duchene now nearly six years ago.

Sabrina Naccarato, an intern at Mile High Sports and student at MSU-Denver, contributed to this report