The Week After: Jackets 2002 Entry Draft (Part One: Rounds 1-5)
Simply put, the Columbus Blue Jackets got their man. General Manager Doug MacLean made forward Rick Nash the first overall pick in the 2002 Entry Draft, after an interesting trade with Florida landed the Jackets organization their first ever first overall pick, in what some would call a desperation move to solidify Rick Nash becoming Jackets property. Mission accomplished from MacLean and camp.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a particular role they needed to fill in their lineup, both right now, and for the future. Rick Nash fills this role, possibly for now, and certainly for the future. After selecting Czech defenseman Rostislav Klesla with their first ever first round pick in 2000, and Canadian goaltender Pascal Leclaire with their first round pick in 2001, the only piece needed was a force upfront to cover all the bases with sure-fire prospects between the pipes, on the blueline, and between the pipes. However, everyone and their dog has heard the raves of Rick Nash. Who else did the Jackets select?
The Jackets, already rather deep on the blueline in terms of prospects, and obviously set for the future between the pipes with Marc Denis, Shane Bendera and Pascal Leclaire, made forwards three of their first four picks in this years entry draft. After a flurry of moves, the Jackets at one time owned the #20 Overall Pick, but opted to deal it. Ditto for the #30 Overall Pick. By the time MacLean & Co. were finished, they drafted next at #41, making Joakim Lindstrom their 2nd round pick.
Lindstrom, a winger, finished 12th overall in scoring at the 2001 World Under-18 Tournament. Joakim had the potential to be the top Swede in the 2002 Entry Draft, but had trouble seeing lots of ice-time with Elitserien with Modo. The book on Lindstrom is simple. He’s all offense. A talented skater with good vision and soft hands. This was clearly highlighted when he played in the Swedish Junior Elite League, when he averaged 2 points per game, despite being upwards of 3 years younger than the opponents he faced.
With the 65th Overall pick, the only defenseman of the draft for the Jackets was taken, Olle Tollefsen. The Norwegian will feel right at home in Columbus with fellow countryman Espen Knutsen by his side. Tollefsen is a stay at home defenseman, with very little offensive potential, but a desire to take care of his own end. With the depth at defense for the Jackets in terms of their future, Tollefsen will need to adapt to the North American game, which means a more physical aspect of his game will have to shine through.
Jeff Genovy was selected at the 96th Overall position. Genovy, a forward(as will be the rest of the players in the draft for Columbus), has been described as a strong physical presence who has the heart and soul that the Jackets were looking for when selecting him. He has limited offensive potential, but has the ability to get his teammates into position to finish. Playing in the North American Hockey League, Genovy had 12 goals and 14 assists in 2000-2001 for the Soo Indians. His current team is the Des Moins Buccanneers.
Three picks after Jeff Genovy was selected, Doug MacLean picked up Ivan Tkachenko. Born in 1979, Tkachenko was the 2nd oldest player selected by the Jackets in this entry draft. Playing in Russia this past season, Ivan registered 34 points in 43 games while playing with the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. His maturity level is above most of the other players selected in the draft, however, if and when he comes over to North America is another question, as well as his ability to adjust to a different style of game.
So who was the oldest player the Jackets selected, you ask? 28-Year-Old Lasse Pirjeta, who was selected 133rd Overall. Pirjeta, who hasn’t played in North America since 91-92 with the Tacoma Rockets of the WHL, has spent 8 of his last 9 years playing in the Finnish League, having played stints with TPS Turku, Tappara Tampere, HIFK Helsinki, and most recently in the 2001-2002 season, Karpat. He is one who could see some time with the Jackets immediately if Columbus could woo him over to North America.
Stay tuned later this week, where I will make an attempt to shed some light on the Jackets picks from rounds 6-9: Tim Konsorada, Jaroslav Balastik, Greg Maulden, Steven Goertzen, Jaroslav Kracik, and Sergei Mozyakin.