The Blue Jackets will draft players from any and all circuits, but those kids tend to wind up in either major junior or the AHL. Sonny Milano chose Plymouth over Boston College, Peter Quenneville left Quinnipiac for Brandon, Markus Soberg went from Sweden to Windsor and Marko Dano dumped the KHL for the AHL. Will the trend continue?
Round 1, pick 8
Round 2, picks 34, 38, 58
Round 3, picks 68, 69
Round 5, picks 129, 141
Round 6, pick 159
Round 7, pick 189
Healthy bodies. Seriously, 2014-15 was a nightmare of woes for Columbus, which led the NHL in man games lost to injury. At least it opened up spot duty for youngsters such as Dano, Josh Anderson and Anton Forsberg. While it’s nice to give the kids a taste, it’s also important to keep them on their original development track.
More blueliners are the order of the day, especially since the present crew was weakened by losses at the trade deadline. Ryan Murray’s health is a concern, since the injury bug has plagued his young career. The fact Mike Reilly chose to explore free agency rather than sign with the team that drafted him really hurts, too.
Purging the contract of Nathan Horton gave the Blue Jackets a healthy body for that $5.3 cap hit, and shipping out James Wisniewski means GM Jarmo Kekalainen has around $8 million to play with this summer. Columbus needs a backup goalie and will have to make a decision on free agents such as Mark Letestu and Jack Skille, but nothing on the scale of last year’s Ryan Johansen war.
In the System 2015-16
Dano and Alexander Wennberg killed their Calder eligibility, so the next hopefuls are the big, hard-working Anderson and gritty sniper Kerby Rychel, who had three points in five NHL games. Because there are so many youngsters in the mix now, the Jackets will have to either let a couple marinate in the minors or go by committee.
Did You Know
Slight but super-skilled Danish import Oliver Bjorkstrand has led a charmed life with WHL Portland, topping 50 goals the past two seasons including 60 this term. Plus he got his national side its first world junior win and quarterfinal appearance.