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Avalanche add scoring, toughness and defense
Posted: Saturday June 27, 1998 07:42 PM
DENVER (AP) -- Exercising their bounty of first-round draft picks, the Colorado Avalanche went for high-scoring center Alex Tanguay with their first choice in Saturday's NHL Entry Draft, then opted for defense and toughness.
Colorado's subsequent choices in the initial round were defensemen Martin Skoula and Robyn Regehr and right wing Scott Parker.
"Toughness was a priority with these selections, and we were fortunate to be able to fill that void," said Dave Draper, Colorado's chief scout who is retiring after the draft but will remain with the team as a consultant.
"We know we have a lot of skilled players at the NHL level in Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg and some others," Avs general manager Pierre Lacroix said. "When you have a chance to get some toughness, you have to go for it."
The Avalanche entered the draft with four first-round picks, beginning with No. 12, and six picks among the first 38.
Lacroix was unsuccessful in packaging some of his current players and first-round picks in exchange for the first overall selection owned by Tampa Bay. The deal ran aground when the Lightning demanded Forsberg.
Tampa Bay kept its pick and took center Vincent Lecavalier, who has been touted as the next Mario Lemieux. The 6-foot-4 Lecavalier, 18, had 44 goals and 71 assists in 58 games for Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.
The expansion Nashville Predators swapped selections with the San Jose Sharks, and took center David Legwand with the second pick. San Jose then took defenseman Brad Stuart with the third pick.
Lacroix made a last-minute negotiating pitch for the seventh choice owned by the New York Rangers, but the Rangers kept the pick, taking two-way player Manny Malhotra.
With the 12th pick, which Colorado acquired from San Jose in the Mike Ricci trade last year, the Avalanche took Tanguay, 18, of Halifax in QMJHL. A prolific scorer, Tanguay scored three more goals (47) in seven fewer games than Lecavalier last season an d also had 38 assists for 85 points.
Scouts say the 6-foot, 180-pound Tanguay has only average speed but is a clever playmaker with a natural scoring touch.
"We're very pleased," Lacroix said. "Our people talked so highly all year long of this young man."
Draper said the Avalanche had Tanguay rated sixth on its drafting board.
The team took Skoula, who was projected as a top-10 pick by most draft analysts, with the 17th selection. The 6-2, 195-pound Skoula, a rangy, mobile defenseman from the Czech Republic, had eight goals and 36 assists in 66 games for the OHL's Barrie Colt s last season.
At No. 19, Colorado selected Regehr, a big, strong stay-at-home defenseman. The 6-2, 211-pound Regehr, born in Brazil of Mennonite missionaries from Saskatchewan, is a punishing hitter who had four goals, 10 assists and 120 penalty minutes in 65 games for Kamloops of the Western Hockey League last season.
Colorado's pick at No. 20 was more intriguing. Parker, 20, was a third-round pick of the New Jersey Devils two years ago but failed to agree to terms and was a re-entry selection this year.
Parker, 6-4, 220, had only three goals and seven points with 159 penalty minutes in 64 games for Kelowna of the WHL two years ago. Last season, he dramatically increased his numbers, recording 30 goals and 22 assists, with 243 penalty minutes, in 71 games.
"I think it has worked out for the best," Parker said. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't reach agreement with New Jersey."
Draper said Parker "has improved tremendously over the last season. It's not often you have maybe the toughest guy in the league score 30 goals. He's a great acquisition."
Asked if Parker might be able to play in the NHL next season, Lacroix said, "It's tough to make a decision like that. Let's give him a chance in training camp to prove what he can do."
Lacroix said he wasn't concerned about signing Parker. "What's in the past is in the past," he said.
Colorado got another highly rated prospect with the first pick in the second round, the 28th player overall. Left wing Ramzi Abid was the leading scorer the QMJHL with 50 goals and 85 assists for Chicoutimi, and also had 266 penalty minutes.
With another second-round pick, the 38th overall, the Avs took goalie Philippe Sauve of Rimouski of the QMJHL. With the 53rd pick, they selected center Steve Moore of Harvard.
Colorado then traded for Washington's 79th choice and took right wing Evgeny Lazarev of Russia.
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