Archive for the Draft Category

Yes, Virginia…Columbus IS a Hockey Town…

Nationwide ArenaWhen you think about it, hockey really is a funny game.  In what other sport (other than boxing and MMA), is fighting a largely accepted element —  penalized, but done so with a wink and a nod?   It is a sport where failing to tie down your sweater is penalized more harshly than pummeling your opponent and where elementary safeguards, such as helmets, goalie masks and visors have inched their way into the game over the grudging “Hrrumphs” of grizzled veterans.   Where else do players and coaches talk about playing the game “the right way”?  For that matter, in what other sporting endeavor do the participants wear “sweaters”?

No, hockey is steeped in tradition, and surrenders to progress with great reluctance.  It’s players are — for the most part — polite, soft-spoken and subservient to The Game.  In many ways, hockey is more akin to golf than any of the teams sports, with the ceremony attendant to winning The Cup not far removed from hoisting The Claret Jug at St. Andrews.  Of the team sports, baseball comes closest to that sense of tradition, but still falls somewhat short.

Tradition is a great thing, but sometimes it crosses the line into bias.  A large segment of the hockey population relies on tradition to cast aspersions on those “pretenders”  who would dare to join the fraternity of hockey cities.  After all, hockey is the birthright of Canada and The Original Six, and the rest are largely pretenders.  Sure, Minnesota and Buffalo are readily accepted, as they are almost in Canada anyway.  The Flyers get admitted to “the club” by virtue of sheer nastiness — or “Old Time Hockey” — as the Hansen Brothers would call it.   The Blues get a pass as well, due to the illustrious names passing through that franchise since 1967.   New Jersey and the Islanders are accepted, both because they fall in the geographical “sweet spot” of the NHL, and their ability to hoist The Cup.  Other than that, however, there is a significant segment of the hockey community that views hockey in “non-traditional” markets as a fool’s errand, and would much rather see a 16 team NHL than cater to the likes of Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Carolina, Nashville, Florida  . . . and Columbus.   Peruse the message boards, listen to talks shows from Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver and you will here how these cities do not “deserve” franchises.  Even cities with demonstrated success — such as Anaheim and Los Angeles — receive only modest recognition.  This segment points to revenue numbers, attendance figures and  the twice-failed experiment in Atlanta as evidence that expansion outside The North is futile.  The lack of a “Hockey Tradition” is deemed fatal in these cities.

Continue reading Yes, Virginia…Columbus IS a Hockey Town…

On Drafting CHL Players Late

A few weeks ago I had a good back and forth with a commenter here at The Union Blue regarding the Blue Jackets selection of Nick Moutrey in the 4th round of this year’s NHL draft. Now my contention was not that Nick Moutrey is not a good hockey player. I don’t contend to be intimately familiar with his game, as I have only seen him play via stream a couple of times over the last two years. Nor do I contend that Nick Moutrey will be a bust that won’t sniff the NHL. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite. I really think he has a legit shot to be a player who sees ice time with the Blue Jackets. My contention is that Moutrey will likely see time in Columbus on the fourth line, or maybe the third line if he develops well. That isn’t a bad return on a 4th round pick. I just think it isn’t the ideal use of a 4th round pick.
Continue reading On Drafting CHL Players Late

The CBJ at the 2013 NHL Draft

This year, the NHL draft was all in one day for the first time since 2006 and the Blue Jackets entered the day with seven picks and ended up leaving with eight (after making a trade for picks with Pittsburgh). The day was certainly a day of firsts for the franchise, not even counting Jarmo being the first ever European GM to make a pick. So let’s get going and meet the newest Blue Jackets.


1-14 Alexander Wennberg-Djurgardens IF (Allsvenkan)-Will play with Frolunda HC (Swedish Hockey League) this season
6’1″ 183
CS Rank 5 Euro Skater Stats 46GP 14-18-32 +10 14PIM

To start off the draft of firsts, the Jackets went to Sweden for the first time ever in the first round selecting Alexander Wennberg of Djurgardens IF of Allsvenkan (Sweden’s second league). Wennberg scored 32 points in 46 games which was third among junior players and his 14 goals put him in second place amongst junior players. Wennberg is a 2-way center who’s most effective along the walls and who wins a lot of board battles. He is at his best when playing a physical game and outworking opponents to win battles and can be tough to play against in front of the net. He also has a great ability to keep his head up while engaging in a puck battles, making moves around a defender and can shake off opponents with twists and turns near the board with agility. One thing that Wennberg can help with is the “goofy goal” department. Against Leksands, Wennberg blocks a shot and starts a odd man rush and while driving to the net with the puck ending up in Alexander’s pants and dropping into the goal. Alexander played for Sweden at the last world championships starting on the fourth line but earned a role in the top six with his play. Alexander will play next season with Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League. He’ll join Jackets prospects Oscar Dansk and Daniel Zaar at Sweden’s World Junior Camp and also take part in the tournament in Lake Placid.

Continue reading The CBJ at the 2013 NHL Draft

The Coach’s Blue Jackets Draft Recap, Now with Perspective!

I spent most of Sunday sitting on my couch, watching the NHL Draft, and complaining about the Blue Jackets picks in the Draft Live Blog. With a little time, a little perspective, and some thought on all the picks, I am quite a bit more pleased with who the the CBJ ended up with. I’m still very disappointed they passed on Hunter Shinkaruk (twice!). But I let that influence my thoughts on who they actually did pick. A little video and stats research later, and I am much more at peace with the newest members of the Jackets organization.

Also influencing my disappointment at the time was the fact that there were no moves made for current NHLers. The team is not any better on paper today than they were on Sunday morning, and that is a little disconcerting to me. They came into this offseason with a lot of future assets, a lot of cap room, and the ability to outbid many teams for a couple of good, but slightly overpaid, NHLers. They didn’t do this, and now those future assets have been devalued. Whether it entirely makes sense or not, the 14th pick was worth a lot more in trade on Sunday afternoon than Alexander Wennberg would be worth in a trade. At this point, I just don’t see it being likely that any of the Blue Jackets young assets move (outside of possibly Ryan Johansen). But these are topics for another day, as my free agency preview will be coming later this week. For now, here are my current thoughts on each of he Blue Jackets draft picks. Continue reading The Coach’s Blue Jackets Draft Recap, Now with Perspective!

The Post-Season Show: Drama in Act One . . .Action in Act Two?

The Vezina Trophy on display at Nationwide Arena (Photo by author)

A The Vezina Trophy on display at Nationwide Arena (Photo by author)

The curtain rose on Draft Day 2013 with more subplots than your average bodice-ripper from the Blue Jackets’s perspective.  Would Bobrovsky be signed?  If not, would it be likely enough to avoid a big deal for a net minder?  If not likely, how would the club fill the void?  What deals could be done for scoring help?  What caliber of prospects would be around for the Columbus picks?   Who shot J.R.?  Oops, sorry, got carried away there . . .  (If you don’t get it, Google it, kids.)

Scene I — The Bobrovsky Reversals

The saga surrounding the re-signing of Sergei Bobrovsky had all the elements of a Cold War spy epic — Russian intrigue, a mysterious, little-known agent, conflicting  messages and predictions of dire consequences if a negotiated peace could not be found.

As Sunday progressed, the pace of the drama escalated, waned,  changed directions entirely — twice — and was then followed by a long and uneasy quiet.  While the climax did not come until earlier today, by the time the draft wound down at 10:30 PM last night, the outcome seemed clear.  The Coach was on top of it all the way, as documented in his Draft Day Live Blog. Continue reading The Post-Season Show: Drama in Act One . . .Action in Act Two?

The Union Blue Draft Day Live Blog

Hello CBJ fans! CBJProspects and myself will taking some time during the draft today to post our thoughts on all the picks, trades, rumors, and general happenings of today’s NHL draft. The Jackets are currently sitting on three first round picks, a wealth of cap space, and are now shopping the rights to Sergei Bobrovsky. With all that in play, Columbus looks to be one of the more exciting teams to watch on this fine Sunday. I encourage everyone to follow along and leave your opinions and/or questions in the comments. Check out all our thoughts after the jump, starting around 2:30 (unless something crazy happens before then). Continue reading The Union Blue Draft Day Live Blog

Trading Spaces: Draft Table Deals Likely for Columbus

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen (Courtesy Columbus Blue Jackets)

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen (Courtesy Columbus Blue Jackets)

Welcome to my début here at The Union Blue.  To those who followed me from Ten Minute Misconduct and The Hockey Writers — a big thanks — both of you.  (I’ll still be chipping in with a guest article at THW from time to time, but The Union Blue is home.)  To those just discovering my writing, strap in.  I’m not shy about expressing opinions, digging deep into issues and counseling patience and perspective when the gut reaction is to panic.  Thanks to all of my colleagues here for swallowing hard and allowing me to use of space on the site.  Enough of that — on to the topic at hand.We’re just about 50 hours from the NHL Entry Draft, and just a week away from the beginning of free agency.  The compressed timeline — brought to you by your friends at the NHL and NHLPA — will make the next ten days a tense and action-filled time.  As Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson have been preaching for the past month — the options are wide open.  That makes this both a time of peril and opportunity for the Blue Jackets at a lot of levels.  While much of the focus is on the draft itself, and the three first round picks the Blue Jackets have stockpiled, I’ll leave the discussion of the draft prospects to my colleague @CBJProspects, who eats, sleeps and lives with that data.   Instead, I want to focus on the other side of the equation — the trade and free agency prospects — made all the more intriguing this season by the advent of the compliance buyout. Continue reading Trading Spaces: Draft Table Deals Likely for Columbus

The Coach’s 2013 Mock Draft

So the NHL draft is this weekend. True story. One benefit of the lockout I suppose is the abbreviated offseason. Usually we have a few weeks of boringness and trade rumors (everyone to Toronto and Philadelphia!), while this year it is limited to just a handful of days. The draft is always one of my favorite events of the hockey season. It’s all upside, excitement, looking forward, and projecting NHL greatness upon future ECHLers. Both CBJProspects and myself are on the record with our first round mock draft, and CBJProspects presented his 2013 mock draft for the Blue Jackets. I’m here today to present my thoughts on who the Jackets should pick with each of their seven selections (barring trades of course). I’ll be taking different players than CBJProspects and giving a little insight on why I think the Jackets should go that direction. First things first, here are the selection the Jackets currently possess (I use currently, as I would expect them to be active traders):

CBJ Picks
1st Round – 14th Overall
1st Round – 19th Overall (From NYR)
1st Round – 27th Overall (From LA)
2nd Round – 44th Overall
4th Round – 105th Overall
6th Round – 165th Overall
7th Round – 195th Overall

As for what I’d be looking for if I were GM Jarmo Kekelainen and President John Davidson, it would come down to a number of factors. First, I’d be looking for potential top six skill early in the draft, but focus on players who play “Blue Jacket hockey”. This means guys who are tough to play against, are good defensively, and are physical. As for defense, I would be looking towards finding at least one top flight offensive talent early, as there just isn’t enough of that in the pipeline. Later in the draft I’d be focusing more on European or NCAA bound talent to give me more time to see how they develop. I’d also throw a 6th or 7th round pick at a goalie with good size and decent athleticism and see how he develops. With that said, some names to look for with the CBJ’s picks:

Continue reading The Coach’s 2013 Mock Draft

My 2013 CBJ Mock Draft

The NHL draft is quickly approaching meaning it’s time for me give my take on who I think the CBJ should take with their seven draft picks. Last year when I did this, I – to the shock of no one – got no players right, but I did call the Jackets selecting two goaltenders. So let’s look at what we have to play with this year:

CBJ Picks
1-19(From NYR)
1-27(From LA)

Now before going pick by pick I’m going to post some of the attributes we need to be looking for in players.

The Jackets prospect pool is not very big with most of the team’s top offensive prospects being under 6’0″ tall. The only two exceptions are Josh Anderson and Seth Ambroz who, if they would make the NHL, would more than likely be bottom six grinders.

Ok I know anyone in hockey can score goals but I mean players that are a threat every time they have the puck like that Nash guy we had who was “good”. Other than Cam Atkinson, the only prospect I would call a potential sniper is Daniel Zaar who, looking at my previous point is 5’11″ and, we can’t be sure if and when he would come over to North America.

That being said – let’s look at my predictions. Continue reading My 2013 CBJ Mock Draft

The Union Blue 2013 Mock Draft

It’s June, so you know what that means: NHL Draft time! Who cares about the actual hockey being played when we can dream about whatever shiny new players Jarmo and JD will be acquiring. With that in mind, we look ahead to the 2013 NHL Draft (well some of us are ALWAYS looking ahead to the draft). CBJProspects and myself have put together our own mock drafts. However, we each took a little different approach to it. I did your standard mock draft. I broke down who each team should pick in each slot. CBJProspects took an entirely CBJ perspective. His picks are who he believes the Jackets should select if they somehow ended up in every slot in the draft. So let us know what you think, who you want the Jackets to draft (or not draft), or just any thoughts on any of these youngsters in general. Continue reading The Union Blue 2013 Mock Draft