Just as the first day of the draft, rounds 1 through 3, seemingly belonged to the Russians as far as the Columbus Blue Jackets scouting department was concerned, the second day of the draft, rounds 4 through 9, had a very distinct Canadian touch to it. General Manager Doug MacLean and Scouting Director Don Boyd selected 7 players, 5 of which were born and bred by Canadian hockey.
Heading into the second portion of the draft, however, Columbus only had four selections at their disposal. Doug MacLean, banking on the depth of the 2003 Entry Draft, made a pair of moves in order to gain 3 more selections in this years draft. MacLean sent his fourth selection in the 2004 Entry Draft to Carolina, who agreed to a swap of their 5th, 138th overall, and their 6th round selection, 168th overall. As well, the Blue Jackets managed to swap 9th round selections with the Los Angeles, sending their 2004 9th rounder to the Kings in exchange for their 9th rounder, 283rd overall.
Columbus had the distinction of back-to-back picks, the 2nd and 3rd selections in the 4th round. With the 103rd selection in the draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Kevin Jarmam, ranked 99th among North American Skaters. Jarman, who stands at an even 6’ and 184 lbs, spent his 2002-2003 season with Stouffville, registering 79 points on the strength of 43 goals. It is interesting to note that Jarman has already signed a letter of intent at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in the fall. Jarman will join fellow Blue Jacket Greg Maulden at U-Mass-Amherst. Maulden was selected in last years draft, 199th overall.
At the 104th spot, the Columbus found a steal in Philippe Dupuis, a product of Laval, Quebec ranked 56th overall among North American skaters by the Central Scouting Bureau. Dupuis, a centreman, is coming off a respectable second season with the Memorial Cup runners-up Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior League, posting 56 points (22-34-56) in 68 games. Dupuis, almost a body double to that of Jarman, stands in at 6’ as well, tipping the scales at 192 lbs.
The scouting staff of the Columbus Blue Jackets bucked the trend of selecting Canadian-born players on day two with the selection of Fin Arsi Piipsanen. Piipsanen, born in Helsinki, is an interesting selection. Ranked 25th among European skaters, Piipsanen was selected in the 5th round, 138th overall. Standing at an impressive 6’3”, it is a necessity that Arsi fills out that massive frame, as he only tips the scales at a meagre 163 lbs. Playing right wing for Jokerit Jr., Piipsanen tallied 17 points (8-9-17) in 32 games, while collecting 5 points (4-1-5) in 6 games for Finland in the Under-18 World Championships.
Selecting their first defenseman of the day, and second in the 2003 Entry Draft, Columbus chose London Knight blueliner Marc Methot with the 168th selection, acquired from Carolina. Methot, who’s got excellent size, had 15 points (2-13-15) in his rookie season in the Ontario Hockey League. Standing in at 6’2.5”, Methot will have the opportunity to add size and a physical presence to the Jackets back end following his junior career.
Columbus added another defenseman to the fold with their selection at the 200th overall spot, only this time, a more mature, offensive minded blueliner. Alexander Gusjkov. Gusjkov, often spelled Guskov, has spent the last two seasons with Yaroslavl of the Russian Elite League, and holds the distinction of the highest scoring defenseman in 2002-2003 with 27 points (10-17-27) in 48 games. At 26 years of age, he should make an immediate impact in North America, whether it is with the Jackets, or their American Hockey League Affiliate, Syracuse Crunch.
Back to selecting Canadian-born players, the Columbus Blue Jackets went back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to select left-winger Mathieu Gravel. Gravel, born in Montreal, holds the distinction of being the biggest player selected by the Jackets. Standing in at 6’3.5” and weighing in at 195 lbs, Gravel managed to tally 50 points (24-26-50) in 72 games with the Shawinigan Cataractes. Ranked by the Central Scouting Bureau at 110 among North American Skaters, Gravel fell to 233rd overall.
Wrapping up the draft for Columbus was Peterborough Pete defenseman Trevor Hendrikx. Hendrikx, a right handed shot from the point, stands in at 6’2” and a lean 190 lbs. In his second season with Peterborough, Trevor managed 9 points (1-8-9) in 56 games, while adding 128 minutes in penalties.
With the selection of Trevor Hendrikx, the 2003 Entry Draft came to a close for the Columbus Blue Jackets. In what surely is a memorable experience for the players selected by the organization, it may very well be just as memorable for the fans who will now get to see the likes of Nikolai Zherdev(RW), Dan Fritsche(C), Dimitri Kosmachev, Kevin Jarman(LW), Philippe Dupuis(C), Arsi Piipsanen(RW), Marc Methot(D), Alexander Gusjkov(D), Mathieu Gravel(LW), and Trevor Hendrikx(D) develop into the Blue Jackets of tomorrow.