Drafting Skills: Columbus Blue Jackets

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Columbus Blue Jackets

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded with Jakub Voracek to Philadelphia for Jeff Carter. This pick turned into Sean Couturier, who has blossomed into a good two-way centre, while Voracek has developed into an elite winger. Carter didn’t last long in Columbus, and was eventually dealt to LA.

Round 2 – Boone Jenner (C) 37th overall – Jenner is a big steal in the 2nd round here for Columbus, as he’s already played 267 games putting up 128 points, while playing a mean checking game. He’s a great player to have on your team, and play the game as hard as anyone, while also being able to contribute offensively.

Round 3 – TJ Tynan (F) 66th overall – Tynan made his NHL debut this year, albeit only played 3 games. In 72 AHL games he had 41 points, and looks as though he’s next in line for a call-up. He plays a good defensive game, and could fit in well on the bottom 2 lines for the Jackets as early as next year.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Ryan Murray (D) 2nd overall – Murray has not developed into the elite defenceman everyone thought he would be. He’s played well over 200 games, but has been passed in terms of value by many other d-men including Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm and Jacob Trouba. The Jackets would love to have this pick back.

Round 2 – Oscar Dansk (G) 31st overall – Dansk returned to Sweden after a brief stint in NA, playing the last two years there. His numbers aren’t great, and likely won’t develop into a valuable goalie in the future. Missed opportunity here for Columbus, especially with Frederik Andersen not going until 87th overall.

Round 3 – Joonas Korpisalo (G) 62nd overall – Korpisalo is a much better prospect than Dansk turned out to be, as he’s been the backup played 45 NHL games to date. He likely won’t develop into a true number 1 goalie, which again sucks for Columbus when comparing him to Andersen who was still taken after him. Two chances at a great goalie and missed on both.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Alexander Wennberg (C) 14th overall – Wennberg had a great year for Columbus, as the playmaker put up 46 assists and 59 points in 80 games. That’s back to back 30+ assist campaigns for Wennberg, who looks more and more like the centre they hoped they were getting when taking him in the top 15.

Round 1 – Kerby Rychel (LW) 19th overall – Received this from the Rangers in the Rick Nash package, which included Dubinsky as well. Rychel has yet to establish himself as an NHL player, spending the full year at the AHL level. He’s a big guy who plays a mean game, and can score a little on the side (52 points in 73 games). He was traded to Toronto for Scott Harrington in 2016, who looks like the lesser player of the two. Not a great pick here by Columbus, with Anthony Mantha going right after him.

Round 1 – Marko Dano (C) 27th overall – Received this pick from LA with Jack Johnson for Jeff Carter. Dano was then part of the package sent to Chicago to bring in Brandon Saad, who has been one of the Jackets best players since. Looking solely at the pick, Dano has turned out OK, but many expected more out of him, but at 27th overall he’s suitable for that pick.

Round 2 – Dillon Heatherington (D) 50th overall – Heatherington has yet to suit up for an NHL game, and was traded to Dallas this year for Lauri Korpikoski. Heatherington doesn’t look like he’ll amount to much, and Korpikoski wasn’t great when he came over, scoring no points in only 9 games played.

Round 3 – Oliver Bjorkstrand (RW) 89th overall – Bjorkstrand has developed into a promising player, scoring 13 points in 26 NHL games this year, and 26 in 37 AHL games. He should be an NHL mainstay next season, which is great for a 3rd round pick only 4 years removed from the draft.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Sonny Milano (LW) 16th overall – I expected Milano to make the team this year, and have an impact. Instead, he was sent back to the AHL, where he scored 47 points in 63 games. It doesn’t look like the Jackets believe in him, which is a tough pill to swallow for a 16th overall pick, 3 years removed from his draft.

Round 2 – Ryan Collins (D) 47th overall – Collins hasn’t developed much since being drafted, as his production has stayed the same throughout his college career. He’s massive at 6’5”, and will take some time to adjust to the speed of the pro game, but right now it’s tough to say that he will develop into an NHL player.

Round 3 – Elvis Merzlikins (G) 76th overall – Received this from Detroit in a swap of picks, none of which have turned out. Elvis played in the Swiss-A league again this year, posting a solid 2.89 GAA and SV% of 0.916. In the playoffs he improved those to 2.02 and 0.937 in 6 starts. He looks like the real deal for goalie prospects, but was drafted at a later age, and is already 23. The Jackets will likely want him playing AHL hockey next year to test him on the smaller ice.

Round 3 – Blake Siebenaler (D) 77th overall – Made his AHL debut this year, but wasn’t very impressive. Looks like a bad pick when you see that hot goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin was drafted after him, followed by Brayden Point. Not a good look for Columbus.

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Zach Werenski (D) 8th overall – One word to describe Werenski: Stud. He was a beast in his rookie campaign, easily one of the Jackets best players. Nominated for rookie of the year, he put up 47 points in 78 games as a rookie d-man. He plays top minutes against tough competition to boot. He is absolutely the real-deal, and an amazing pick at 8th overall.

Round 1 – Gabriel Carlsson (D) 29th overall – Received this pick from Toronto in a swap of picks. Carlsson came over from Sweden after thi season finished and saw time at both the AHL and NHL level. He is likely a year or two away from challenging for a full-time spot, but looks like he will eventually be an NHL d-man. Good pick at the end of round 1 by Columbus.

Round 2 – Paul Bittner (LW) 38th overall – Bittner was unimpressive in 31 AHL games this year, adding only 3 assists. Right now, looks as though this is turning out to be a bad pick for Columbus, as he will likely not make the jump to the NHL anytime soon, if ever at all.

Round 2 – Kevin Stenlund (C) 58th overall – Received this pick from Anaheim for James Wisniewski in a package. Stenlund had good stats in Sweden this year, and will likely make his way to the AHL next year to adapt to the smaller ice surface. Wisniewski has since played his way out of the NHL, making this a win for Columbus in my opinion.

Round 3 – Keegan Kolesar (RW) 69th overall – Kolesar is a tough customer, putting up 100+ PIMS in the WHL the last two years, while 61 and 60 points as well. He’s a big guy, and plays a strong power-forward game. It’ll be interesting to see how his game evolves moving into the AHL and playing against men, who will be able to handle his strength a lot better than the kids in junior.

Overall, Columbus has made some great picks, but missed on a lot of early rounders. They could be a lot better off today with a couple small re-picks in some of these drafts.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm

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