Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Professor Oak Conundrum

A face only a mother could love

For those of a certain age, it is likely that a childhood memory includes a very important, often life-changing question:

Which Pokemon do you choose?

Professor Oak would ask you the damn question at the beginning of every game, and with the exception of a few versions, it was always the hardest question to answer.

Should you take the grass Pokemon, Bulbasaur?

No one took Bulbasaur. After all, what was grass powerful against? What was it weak against?

It was much easier to weigh the strengths of water Pokemon, Squirtle, and fire pokemon, Charmander.

With Squirtle, you got a cute little bugger who could use the very important "surf" ability. With Charmander, the pokemaster knew he would eventually be able to own the feisty, but also difficult to control, Charizard.

Decisions, decisions.

Regardless of which one was taken (I was usually a Squirtle guy - I think), the owner would venture out into the world with hopes of becoming the best there ever was.

This June, the Avs are going to be facing a similar decision when they make their (probably top-3) pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Which Pokemon, er, player, do we choose?

Dater took a look at the Squirtle/Charmander choices of the bunch, namely Adam Larsson and Gabriel Landeskog.

Larsson is the big defenseman, who would have been the sure-fired Avalanche preference if not for the acquisition of Erik Johnson. Similarly, Landeskog, the big forward, is intriguing because of Chris Stewart's abrupt departure last month.

And depending on who you ask, the Bulbasaurs appear to come in the form of small center (like we need another one) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and center (again) Sean Courturier .

So which one is best for the Avs?

With a preliminary glance, it's Landeskog. The Avs are small at forward, and they got smaller when they got rid of Stewart. Furthermore, they're extremely injury-proned at forward. They're going to need guys to fill the shoes of Milan Hejduk when he retires in the next 1-2 years, and to take the spots of a Peter Mueller or Tomas Fleischmann.

Larsson would fit in nicely on the blueline. Assuming Foote is gone, we're looking at:

Johnson, O'Byrne, Liles, Quincey, Wilson, Holos, Cumiskey, Hunwick

Hunwick will be gone, but we also have to factor in Stefan Elliott, Tyson Barrie, and Cameron Gaunce possibly making the jump to the big leagues next season.

Colorado management already showed how confident they are in the aforementioned prospects by trading away Colby Cohen and Kevin Shattenkirk. Johnson will be the anchor, playing 23-26 minutes a night. It will be up to Liles to build on this season, Quincey to rebound, and O'Byrne to use his size effectively.

Landeskog addresses an immediate need for size up front.

He (Larsson, too) is also Swedish.

Well, we can only hope.

Eleven games to go.
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