NHL Draft 2014: Colorado Avalanche select Conner Bleackley with No. 23 overall pick

Derek Leung

The 17-year-old forward scored 29 goals with Red Deer of the Western Hockey League last season.

The Colorado Avalanche have selected forward prospect Conner Bleackley with the No. 23 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

Bleackley, 17, is a right-handed shooting centerman who has spent the last three seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. Selected with the No. 21 overall overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Bleackley made his debut with Red Deer during the 2011-12 season, dressing in 16 games and registering two goals. Since then, he has appeared in 137 games over the last two seasons and has added 86 points over that span. Bleackley had a breakout year last season, registering career-high totals in all three primary offensive categories with 29 goals and 39 assists for a total of 68 points.

He acted as Red Deer's captain last season.

Listed at 6'0, 192 pounds, Bleakley finished the 2013-14 season ranked as the No. 26 overall prospect in the 2014 Draft in the ISS yearend report. Praised as a reliable two-way forward, Bleackley is described as a deceptive scorer by the ISS:

Few players bring the passion to win to the game that Bleackley does, and even fewer do it game in and game out. The real appeal of Bleackley is that is the type of player that you win with. He is an incredibly committed team player who plays with great maturity, discipline, intelligence and skill. While not the flashiest of players, he can create a ton of opportunity for his team through his very good north-south work ethic. He is versatile and can fit into any situation and has even proven to be a deceptively talented goal scorer in special teams situations. Bleackley is the kind of player that coaches use to compare lesser players to and one that they love to have at their disposal. There's a reason the kid was a CHL team captain as a 17 year old.

He represented Canada internationally on two occasions and was part of the leadership group for the 2013-14 U18 World Junior Championship team.

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