Center probably is the deepest position on the Avalanche roster, but that did not stop the team from taking another one with its first pick in Friday night's first round of the NHL draft in Philadelphia.

The Avs chose the captain of the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League: 6-foot-1, 196-pound Conner Bleackley.

Bleackley, 18, scored 29 goals and had 68 points for the Rebels this past season, with 48 penalty minutes.

"I think I have the ability to bring guys together as a group," Bleackley said. "I think on the ice, I have a versatility where I can play on lines one to four, at wing and center. I'm more of a two-way center. I pride myself on playing against a team's best players. I like to go to the dirty areas and to the net to score goals. That's definitely a part of my game."

The knock on Bleackley is his skating and defense. Both are a work in progress, scouts say. Everything else about his game, though, draws good notices — especially his work ethic.

Bleackley, who played under former New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames coach Brent Sutter at Red Deer, has size and a right-hand shot — two attributes the Avs want to add more of to their club. He plays an involved, physical kind of game; not overly flashy, but grindingly effective with pretty good hands.