Prospect of the Year: Stefan Elliott, D, Colorado Avalanche (NHL)
Not only did blueliner Stefan Elliott play in the most NHL games in 2011-12 of all of the Avalanche prospects, he also set himself up to take on a role as a regular in 2012-13 and could even start the season in Colorado's top four. At 21, Elliott's future is bright and it's no surprise that he is also currently ranked first among Avalanche prospects by Hockey's Future. The former WHL Defenseman of the Year is a stellar puck-mover and though not especially physical, he puts himself in the right position to intercept passes and shutdown opposing rushes which allow him to be a factor in both ends. His transition from junior to the pros has been seamless. Playing as a rookie with Colorado's AHL-affiliated Lake Erie Monsters, Elliott totaled 14 points and a plus-five rating in 30 games. In 39 games as a first-year NHLer, Elliott fared quite similarly, recording 13 points and a plus-two rating despite playing at an elevated level of competition with the Avalanche.
It's easy to see why Stefan Elliott would be projected as Colorado's best defenseman in the long run, but his poor defensive play had him riding the bench for the bulk of March and April. If he cracks the Avalanche's roster next season, it'll be because of his performance in training camp.
Elliot has a lot of work to do but that's the same of any young D-Man that comes up. rarely are they instantly ready to go.
he definitely could have played better on defense but growing pains are expected with young goalies and defensemen.