Avs’ first-rounder Bleackley says lack of contract is ‘in the back of my mind a lot’

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Safe to say Colorado isn’t thrilled with the progression of Conner Bleackley.

Things haven’t gone great since Bleackley went 23rd overall in ’14, two spots ahead of impressive B’s rookie David Pastrnak. Shortly after getting picked, Bleackley’s junior coach, Brent Sutter, said he wasn’t ready for NHL hockey.

Bleackley then barely spent any time at Avs camp last fall, getting sent back to junior after arriving in inadequate shape, putting forth what Patrick Roy called a “disappointing” effort.

Oh, and Bleackley is still without an entry-level deal.

Compare that to Colorado’s first-rounder from this year, Mikko Rantanen, who signed his two weeks after getting picked.

“Obviously, it’s in the back of my mind a lot,” Bleackley said of his contract situation, per the Denver Post. “I try not to focus on that. I think it’s out of my control. What I can control is the work I put in this summer and what I do here at camp.

“If I do all the things right, like my goal is, that’ll happen.”

Bleackley is coming off a good campaign in WHL Red Deer, where he posted 49 points in 51 games (missing time with a groin injury). At 19, he’s almost assuredly headed back to junior this year, so the focus now will be on when he signs.

Should he not get his ELC done by next summer, he’ll re-enter the draft — though that’s not something Bleackley wants to happen.

He wants to earn his ELC at this year’s training camp.

“They told me to come ready to work,” he explained. “Hopefully I can earn it here in camp. I’m looking forward to it.”