Blue Jackets 2008 draft review

By Ryan Madden

For the ninth straight season, the Blue Jackets picked in the top ten of the annual NHL entry draft.  The Blue Jackets are hoping that the next time they pick in the top ten, they have to trade up to do so.  Going into the weekend, GM Scott Howson and his scouting staff had a total of nine picks, including two first-round selections.  Howson made it clear, however, that the Jackets would be looking to add a player capable of helping the team right away. 

During the weekend, Howson completed two trades, but still made nine draft picks, just at different spots.  The first move saw Howson move the 19th overall selection, along with the 67th, to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for RJ Umberger and the 118th overall selection. Later, during day two of the draft, Howson moved down from the 97th overall, trading that pick to Boston for their 107th and 137th overall picks. 

With their nine selections, the Blue Jackets chose five forwards and four defensemen.  Three of their first four selections were blue liners, helping them to build some prospect depth at this position. 

Nikita Filatov, LW – RUS-Jr CSKA

6th overall
May 25, 1990, 6’0, 172

With the top four defensemen already off the board, the Jackets selected this offensive gem of a left winger from CSKA in Moscow.  Filatov, perhaps more than any other player in this draft, has huge offensive upside, a good two-way awareness, and a fierce desire to win.  Scouts love his confidence to be the difference maker
in a hockey game. 

Somewhat slender, Filatov may need a year of junior or the AHL to develop his game and to adjust to the North American style.  He was selected first overall by the Sudbury Wolves in the CHL import draft, so it is quite possible Filatov will head to Sudbury should he fall short of making the NHL this year.  He is also eligible to play in Syracuse of the AHL since he was selected out of Europe.

Filatov’s selection gives the Jackets a top-flight offensive product, which is something they lack at present.  The Jackets have perhaps selected in Filatov and Jakub Voracek in the last two drafts something that they lacked in their previous seven first-round top ten selections: homeruns.

Filatov scored 66 points in 34 games in his Russian junior league this past season.  He led the Russian U-18 silver medal squad in scoring this year with nine points in six games.  He also led their U-18 gold winning squad last year as a 16-year-old with nine points in seven games.  He led Russia‘s U-20 WJC team this year as a 17-year-old in a tournament dominated by 19-year-olds, scoring nine points in seven games.  He has a very high offensive ceiling, and if he plays in Sudbury, should be among the top scorers in the league. 

Cody Goloubef, D – WCHA Wisconsin

37th overall
Nov. 30, 1989, 6’0, 195

Playing under coach Mike Eaves with the Univerity of Wisconsin Badgers, Goloubef was the youngest player in his conference and the second youngest in all of Division I hockey last season.  Praised for his intelligence and his hockey sense, Goloubef is a solid defenseman who does all the little things right.  

Goloubef had two goals and six assists in his 38 games for the Badgers.  More importantly, he earned Eaves’ trust and played a regular shift all season long as a freshman.  He’s got good offensive skills, and could develop into a very solid puck-moving defenseman who also plays a very steady defensive game.

Goloubef will most likely return to Wisconsin next season, where he will continue to work with Eaves and his staff.  The Badgers have had very good success in recent years recruiting defensemen.  Badgers’ assistant coach Mark Osiecki works with the blueliners and is very well regarded by the hockey community for his defensive expertise.  Goloubef will continue to benefit from this environment.

Steven Delisle, D – QMJHL Gatineau

107th overall
Jul. 30, 1990, 6’6, 209

This big Quebecois defenseman was a significant part of the Gatineau defense corps that won the QMJHL title this past season.  Delisle doesn’t play an overly physical game, but has some solid offensive skills.  Delisle played on the Olympiques second power-play unit all year long and throughout the playoffs.  He moves the puck well, and uses his big body to hold the line at the point. 

Two areas in his game that will have to improve are his defensive zone coverage and his skating — in particular his first few steps. 

Delisle had 29 points in 70 games for the Olympiques this season, and added another 10 points in 19 playoff games.  Delisle turns 18 at the end of July, so there is still plenty of time for this young defender to improve. 

Drew Olson, D – MN-HS Brainerd-High

118th overall
Apr. 4, 1990, 5’11, 215

With their third straight defensive selection, the Blue Jackets took Olson, who was a nominee for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award, given annually to the best high school hockey player in Minnesota.  Built like a bowling ball, this short and stocky offensive defenseman scored 17 goals and 16 assists in 25 games for Brainerd.  With his wide frame, Olson can use his leverage to win puck battles along the boards and to bounce off checks.  The Minnesotan moves the puck well, but will have to adapt to a higher level of play in order to succeed as a pro. 

Olson is committed to playing for University of Minnesota-Duluth, probably starting in 2009.  Unless this situation changes and he plays this upcoming season with the Bulldogs, Olson will play next season with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL

Matt Calvert, LW – WHL Brandon

127th overall
Dec. 24, 1989, 5’9, 164

If prospects were drafted on work ethic, heart, and commitment to team play, regardless of any other attributes, Calvert would be among the very top of almost all draft lists.  The native of Brandon, MB who’s playing for his hometown Wheat Kings in the WHL had a very productive rookie season last year, playing on a line with Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie. 

Calvert had 64 points in 72 games, and won Brandon’s Hardest Working Player award.  Calvert is fast, and plays well positionally on both sides of the puck.  He does not have the offensive upside that some of the other smaller WHL forwards from this year’s draft have, but he plays a very smart game and works hard every shift. 

Calvert will return to Brandon in what should be a very productive season for him, returning to play with Schenn and Glennie.  Some have questioned whether Calvert’s production was not due in part to his gifted linemates, and that may have hurt his draft stock. 

Tomas Kubalik, RW – CZE Plzen

135th overall
May 1, 1990, 6’2, 189

Kubalik is a big, chippy forward, always in the middle of scrums.  He plays with a bit of an edge, but also brings a high skill level.  Kubalik played 20 games with Plzen in the Czech men’s league, and tallied 3 points.  He and Tomas Vincour led the Czech U-18 team back to the top division for next April with 12 points in just five games in Poland.  In the Czech junior league, he also scored 20 points in 21 games last season.

Not afraid to go to the net and score dirty goals, Kubalik must continue to work on his skating. He already owns a good shot and if he can adjust to the North American game and continue to develop his physical element, he could end up a very savvy selection. 

Brent Regner, D – WHL Vancouver

137th overall
May 17, 1989, 5’11, 175

With the first of three over-age picks, Columbus went back to the blue line to pick up this puck moving WHL defenseman.  Overlooked last season, Regner took command of the Giants power play this season, along with Jonathan Blum.  Regner finished second to Blum in team scoring by a defenseman, with 47 points in 72 games.  Regner led Giants defensemen with ten points in the playoffs, and was tops on the team with a +5 rating during their 10 post-season games. 

Regner is a bit undersized at 5’11, but moves the puck well, and has blossomed this season with increased ice time.  The Giants had a stocked defense corps last season, due to their hosting the Memorial Cup, so Regner may well have been missed by some scouts because of his lack of quality ice time. 

Cameron Atkinson, RW – CT-HS Avon Old Farms

157th overall  
Jun. 5, 1989, 5’9, 165

Atkinson is Columbus’ second of three over-age draft picks, and second under-sized, scoring forward selected in the draft.  Similar to Calvert in that Atkinson is fast, plays well in all three zones, plays larger than his frame, and displays a lot of heart and grit when he is on the ice. Atkinson always gives a full effort. 

Committed to play at Boston College next season, Atkinson scored 63 points in 28 games with Avon Old Farms as a senior, en route to leading them to their seventh New England Ice Hockey Championship. 

Sean Collins, C – MJHL Waywayseecappo

187th overall
Dec. 29, 1988, 6’3, 184

Collins is Columbus’ third straight over-age selection, in a year when 42 out of the 211 prospects picked were over-agers.  Playing on a junior-A club in Manitoba, Collins did not receive the same amount of exposure as even players from more prominent junior-A leagues throughout Canada have received.  However, he was recruited by Cornell to play Division I hockey next season, and the Blue Jackets selected him 187th overall, making him the only MJHL player selected this year. 

Collins finished second in the MJHL with 115 points in 60 games last season.  The big centerman also won the MJHL award for sportsmanship and hockey ability.  A very intelligent player with great vision and size, Collins will be given several years to work on his game with the Big Red before turning pro.