The Columbus Blue Jackets certainly made a splash on draft day by selecting Ryan Johansen with the fourth overall pick. Many expected Johansen to go anywhere between 8-12th overall, but the Port Moody native apparently became a hot commodity in the days leading up to the draft, and had also had great talks with The Blue Jackets, who felt extremely comfortable in selecting him.
Out of their eight picks, Columbus drafted three forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies. General Manager Scott Howson continued his trend of drafting big, by selecting players over six feet, including 6’6 project goaltender Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault in the fourth round. Howson, however, did not persist with his strategy of drafting players keen on going the NCAA route, as all but one of his selections were taken from the CHL – three from the OHL, and two from both the QMJHL and WHL.
Ranked 16th in Central Scouting’s midterm rankings for North American skaters, Ryan Johansen had a great second half for the Portland Winterhawks, leading him to be selected fourth overall by the Blue Jackets. A big center at 6’3, Johansen possesses top-notch puck-handling skills as well as the necessary vision needed to become a first line NHL centre.
As somewhat of an unknown during the 2008-09 season, Johansen played for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, registering just 17 points in 47 games played. He had planned to go the college route, but was convinced to play junior hockey for the 2009-10 season by the Portland Winterhawks, who had drafted him the previous year. Johansen seems to have made the right choice, scoring at almost a point per game clip for the Winterhawks in his rookie season with 25 goals and 44 assists for 69 points in 71 games.
Johansen, apart from being a great playmaker, has the ability to score, especially around the net, and also has the size to potentially become the complete package in a center. He will likely spend at least another year in junior, however, as the Blue Jackets groom him as their future number one centre.
Dalton Smith has hockey in his genes. The Oshawa native is the son of former NHLer Derrick Smith and the nephew of Keith and Wayne Primeau. Smith has offensive punch, but the strongest asset of his game is perhaps his physical and aggressive nature, much akin to his two uncles.
Smith scored 21 goals in 62 games this past season, but again, was known mostly for his aggressive nature. The 19-year-old recorded 129 penalty minutes in 62 games in the regular season to go along with 27 penalty minutes in 12 post-season games. Moreover, Smith is not known for taking bad penalties; he sticks up for his teammates on a regular basis, recording 18 fights last season, and is great at using his body to open up space on the ice for teammates. Ultimately, Smith is a hard-nosed player who has the potential to be a top six winger with size, or a bottom line agitator.
Petr Straka was named the QMJHL’s rookie of the year last season, scoring 28 goals and adding 36 assists. He is a speedy winger with a nose for the net, and will likely be to go-to guy for Rimouski next season.
As a 17-year-old, Straka spent the 2008-09 season for Plzen Jr. of the Czech Republic junior league, putting up 23 points in 26 points, and by all accounts, has since steadily improving all aspects of the game. With a projectable NHL frame, at 6’1 and 187lbs, an improving well-rounded game, and high-end offensive potential, Straka has the potential to be a second round steal.
Brandon Archibald will likely never be a top-pairing offensive defenseman, but the physical blueliner does have the potential to be an NHL caliber shutdown defenseman. The 18-year-old likes to throw his weight around, is very sound positional-wise, and is not bereft of offensive ability. He improved upon his rookie season with the Greyhounds last season by adding 33 points in 68 games, and will get the opportunity next season to again improve upon those numbers.
Archibald was selected to play for the United States at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial last season, and also suited up in the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game.
Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, G – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
4th Round, 102nd Overall
Corbeil-Theriault played on a horrible Halifax Mooseheads team last season, shown by his record of 8-39. Despite the gaudy record not to mention the .883 save percentage and 3.83 goals against average, scouts all see the same thing in Corbeil-Theriault: his size. At 6’6, he takes up plenty of the net as it is, but with improvements on his already adequate reflexes and positioning, Corbeil-Theriault could become an NHL starter.
At this point, he is largely a project pick, and it will likely take years before his future is even known. There is no doubt however he could end up becoming another steal for the Blue Jackets.
Defenseman Austin Madaisky spent the 2009-10 season split between the Calgary Hitmen and the Kamloops Blazers. He managed to record 27 points in 65 games, improving greatly upon his rookie numbers.
Much like the Jackets earlier pick of Brandon Archibald, Madaisky does not appear to be a huge offensive threat. That said he is not completely inept on the offensive side of the puck. His strength is in his defensive positioning and his skating ability. By all accounts, Madaisky is also extremely committed to staying in shape and improving physically – a great sign in a late round pick. He should play a bigger role on the Blazers blue line for the next two seasons before turning pro.
Dalton Prout , D – Barrie Colts (OHL)
6th Round, 154th Overall
Dalton Prout embodies the typical late round pick. He has size, throws his weight around, and most importantly, likes to scrap. His ceiling is likely a bottom pairing defenseman at best.
Prout was passed over in the draft in his first two years of eligibility, but after showing no signs of being anything more than a one dimensional for the past few seasons, he was given additional ice-time and posted 21 assists. By contrast, he had a total of 14 points in his previous three seasons combined. The 20-year-old is eligible to play pro next season, but could also play as an overager in junior.
Martin Ouellette, G – Kimball Union Academy (NE H.S.)
7th Round, 184th Overall
Martin Ouellette is a Canadian goalie who recently backstopped Kimball Union Academy to a New England high school championship. The 18-year-old posted a 21-6-2 record with a 1.61 GAA and a .925 SV%. Ouellette is a lanky goalie, but with plenty of room to grow. He also has a knack for making timely saves and playing his angles well, though he has to work on his consistency and athleticism before being considered a legitimate NHL prospect. Ouellette will be attending the University of Maine next season.
Like Corbeil-Theriault, he is likely more a project pick, but with the addition of two goalies into a fading goaltending crop, The Blue Jackets seemed to have strengthened their depth between the pipes.