Top 10 prospects
1. Nikita Filatov, LW
2. John Moore, D
3. Cody Goloubef, D
4. Maksim Mayorov, LW
5. Matt Calvert, LW
6. Kevin Lynch, C
7. Brent Regner, D
8. David Savard, D
9. Kevin Lalande, G
10. Dan LaCosta, G
The Blue Jackets have the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft.
Derick Brassard was expected to be the team’s No. 1 center this past season, and while he stayed healthy, he was unable to perform at the same level he did in his rookie season. While Brassard may be able to recapture the form that had him as a leading rookie of the year candidate in the 2008-09 season, it may be possible that the Blue Jackets look for a No. 1 center elsewhere. The team has been without a true playmaking first-line pivot since their inception into he league, and while Brassard or Vermette could possibly fill the role, the Blue Jackets need to acquire a top center to compliment franchise forward Rick Nash, who only scored 33 goals last season. With a top playmaking center, Rick Nash is a sure 40-goal scorer.
There is also no denying the need for an offensive-minded defenseman. The Blue Jackets have also never really boasted a defense that featured a true top-flight offensive defenseman; in their 10-year history, Rostislav Klesla leads all defensemen in scoring with 123 points – moreover, he has never had a season of over 25 points. Kris Russell or Anton Stralman, like Brassard up front, both have the potential to step up and lead offensively from the blueline, but if the Jackets are to be a legitimate threat next season, they’ll likely need an upgrade on the back end.
Also, with the deadline deals of Raffi Torres and Jason Chimera, the Blue Jackets have a strong need for secondary scoring on the wing, especially if Nikita Filatov doesn’t pan out.
While the Jackets don’t have a true No. 1 defenseman, they certainly have an abundance of defensemen who already are, or have the potential to be contributors on the second or third pairing. With Mike Commodore, Jan Hejda, Fedor Tyutin, Kris Russell, Anton Stralman, and a healthy Rostislav Klesla, the Blue Jackets have an abundance of options on the blueline. Moreover, they also have an abundance of good defense prospects in their pipeline, including the recently-signed David Savard, Teddy Ruth, Cody Goloubef, and of course, last year’s first round pick John Moore. Eight of their top 15 prospects are defensemen.
Another strengh is depth forwards. Apart from Nikita Filatov, the Blue Jackets lack much offensive strength in their prospect pool, but they certainly have an abundance of players who can potentially have an impact of the bottom two lines at the NHL level. Maksim Mayorov, Cam Atkinson, Michael Blunden, Tom Sestito, and Jake Hansen in particular all have the potential to be solid third and fourth-line forwards.
With Nikita Filatov set to graduate and no longer fit Hockey’s Future’s prospect criteria, the Blue Jackets are extremely thin with offensive-minded forwards. After Filatov, the Jackets next best forward prospect is Maxim Mayorov, a Russian who has shown little progression in his two AHL seasons. Matt Calvert is perhaps their next best forward prospect, but he remains a few years away. Last year’s second-round pick, Kevin Lynch, is an unknown at this point, but is regarded as more of a defensive forward.
Goaltending seemed to be a strength for the Jackets after the 2008-09 season in which Steve Mason emerged as a star NHL goaltender, and Dan LaCosta proved to be a solid AHL netminder; however, both goalies struggled to say the least in the 2009-10 season, causing some concern for a position that was once regarded as a strength in the organization. Though Mason is still just 22 years old and likely to rebound from a horrible year last season, the organization no longer boasts an impressive crop of goaltending prospects: Kevin Lalande had a decent season in the AHL, but appears to be no more than an NHL backup, while the same can be said for collegiate goaltender Allen York.
This will be GM Scott Howson’s fourth draft with the Blue Jackets and there is no denying the fact that he loves to select players along the college route. In the past three drafts, exactly half of Howson’s selections have either gone on to play NCAA hockey, or at least initially decided to – last year’s first-round pick John Moore later chose to play junior hockey in Canada.
Defensemen seem to be a prime target for Howson and his staff, specifically big physical defensemen. In the past three drafts, he’s selected 6’4 Will Weber, 6’6 Steve Delisle, and 6’5 Thomas Larkin. Although, last year’s selections of John Moore and David Savard seem to indicate a shift in the philosophy of drafting perhaps smaller, but more offensive-minded blueliners.
Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result: Brandon Gormley, D
Perhaps one of the safest picks in the draft, Brandon Gormley would be a great acquisition to an already impressive crop of defense prospects boasted by the Blue Jackets. Gormley is an extremely sound defenseman who does everything well. He holds the poise and maturity level of that of a seasoned veteran, and has top pairing potential at the NHL level. The Jackets may have a greater need for forwards with offensive potential, but with Gormley still on the board, they’d be hard pressed to pass him up. He’d be a perfect compliment to last year’s first-round pick: offensive defenseman John Moore.