With the draft quickly approaching, and the internet being full of mock drafts, I’m offering my take. Be it just a first round to those few crazy sites that do full draft mock ups, me, I’m taking the easy way out – I’m just doing one team. That one team is of course the Columbus Blue Jackets(duh prospect boy).
As of this writing the Blue Jackets own eight picks, possibly nine. And, important to note, in my proposed draft, I can only pick from who has been ranked by the scouting services since I can’t find a list of unsigned prospects that reentered the draft or players that were passed over in previous drafts (quick note last three drafts we’ve selected a player that’s been passed over). So here we go.
The CBJ’s Picks (round-pick)
2-31,45(OTT via PHX)
4-95(NYI via VAN), 117(via VAN)
ROUND 1 PICK 2
Nail Yakupov(CSS Rank NA 1)
Ok, I’m not saying how, but somehow, someway, the Jackets will flip picks with Edmonton and take Nail Yakupov. Yakupov will give us a skilled, but undersized, goal scorer to hopefully help fill the void left by the Rick Nash trade. Plus, we can only hope for post game interviews like this. Of note, after breaking Steven Stamkos’ rookie scoring records, Yakupov had a rough season due to injuries also having to sit a few games after skipping the Top Prospect game(how dare he rehab an injury- he’s a monster).
ROUND 2 PICK 31
Malcolm Subban(CSS Rank NA G 1)
This pick is totally to help fill the massive crater that is the CBJ’s goalie depth. Now don’t read that as I think Subban will be in Columbus next year, I’m more than ready for him to take a few seasons to develop. Subban’s only been playing goal since he was 12, but he is very athletic and has quick reflexes. Only problem is his rebound control. Malcolm is compared to Montreal’s Carey Price. Subban was among the OHL’s top goalies including being 4th in GAA with a 2.50 with three shutouts. Subban has a slight connection with the Jackets as Columbus prospect Dalton Smith demolished Subban earning him a 10 game suspension.
ROUND 2 PICK 45
Tim Bozon(CSS Rank NA 42)
I’ve liked Tim Bozon since reading about him in The Hockey News Draft Guide when it commented on not only his skill but also his toughness. Now at 6’1, 180some lbs, Bozon is no bruiser, but he’s a speedy scorer and, at least in juniors (Swiss and WHL) a point per game player. The mention of his toughness is when he took a monster hit but Bozon waved the trainer off, another example of this led to a great quote from a scout is when he got into a fight(<-I think this was it) in the playoffs noting Bozon got the tar beaten out of him “I didn’t get to see his skill set” also adding “but I did leave there thinking he was either stupid or he had a lot of balls”. Bozon’s best attribute is his skating and speed leading to 36 goals which was second on the Blazers. Tim’s father Philippe was the first French trained player to play in the NHL suiting up for 144 games with St Louis in the early 90s.
ROUND 3 PICK 62
Anthony Stolarz(CSS Rank NA G 4)
You’re probably going to call me crazy for taking a goalie in back to back rounds, but Stolarz has been climbing teams’ lists. Stolarz is a monster(pauses and thinks of Wesslau and Gustavsson nevermind) at 6’5 200 lbs having the biggest wingspan at the recent NHL combine with a wingspan of 81″(his wingspan is wider than he is tall). Now Stolarz would be a project as he’s committed to Nebraska-Omaha, but Omaha returns two Sophomores who won nine of the team’s 14 games last season. Stolarz ended up in the lower NAHL after being cut from two EJHL team’s camps and, with some help from his coaches, where once he was expected to be a backup he ended up playing 50 games for the IceRays.
ROUND 4 PICK 95
Esa Lindell(CSS Rank Euro 12)
Not gonna lie this is totally a stat based one. The 6’3″ Fin scored 21 goals(#18 in the video)for the Jokerit Jr team and according to one draft guide it’s because of “a high scoring environment and big ice time”. Lindell is a smart player when making plays and patient with the puck but he’s only average with it but still coordinated enough to make plays. Conflicting scouting reports exist about his physical play, but most sites reports list him as 6’2-6’3 and in the 190 some pound range. Lindell sounds like he’d be a bit of a project pick.
ROUND 4 PICK 117
Brendan Leipsic(CSS Rank 114)
Leipsic sounds a little like Derek Dorsett mixed with Cam Atkinson and possibly a little TJ Tynan, one guide I have called him a energizer bunny. Leipsic despite being listed at 5’9 165 loves to finish checks and has no problem going to the dirty areas. Now he lacks an extra gear but makes up for it by being “sneaky fast”, but he’s hard to control around the boards and when driving to the net. Leipsic has great hands, an accurate shot and is very creative offensively. The only problem with him seems to be he’s 5’9 and his style of play could lead to injuries.
ROUND 6 PICK 152
Justin Hache(CSS Rank 152)
Now picking him at the number he’s ranked is just coincidence. Where Lindell was offensive, Hache has 33 career points in 97 games. Hache was seeing important minutes with the Cataractes until the team loaded up for the Memorial Cup acquiring three of the QMJHL’s top defensemen. Hache is a steady reliable defenseman, but not a great skater, and, someone who likes to be physical along the boards. As with most prospects, he will need to get stronger. Next year, Justin will be playing on a new team as he was traded to Cape Breton to complete one of the trades earlier in the season to acquire one of the top defenseman.
ROUND 7 PICK 182
Ludvig Nilsson(CSS Rank Euro 57)
Nilsson is a 6’1 center/left wing that played for Timra’s junior team scoring 32 points in 47 games. Nilsson has a shoot first mentality that shows he wants to be a difference maker. While he doesn’t punish you with his size, he uses it in his goal scoring. Nilsson is a net presence on the power play where he earns most of his points.
There you have it folks, my picks on who the CBJ should draft. If I get any of these right, I may retire from blogging(stop cheering!)! I’ll be at the draft for both days with a little help from ebay and a friend of my dad’s so ill be live tweeting and commenting all the way. Be sure to follow me here at the Union Blue and via Twitter at @cbjprospects.