It's been nearly five years since the 2007 NHL draft and the Blue Jackets top two selections are no longer with the organization. Not only that, they've only managed to get 24 games of NHL experience for their bottom five picks. Of their seven total selections, four went the NCAA route, three of whom are currently in their fourth and final season.
At this point, the jury is still somewhat out on how the organization did in the 2007 draft; it will likely depend on the progression of Weber, Hansen, and goaltender Allen York. The outlook however isn't too promising.
Their first pick – Jakub Voracek at seventh overall – could be viewed as a success, particularly as he was part of the package that helped the club land high-profile center Jeff Carter. More than that, the Czech winger has scored the third most points from the '07 draft class thus far, behind only Chicago's Patrick Kane and Edmonton's Sam Gagner.
Voracek was the first of two Columbus draft picks out of the CHL in 2007, and given the Czech import's numbers for Halifax that season, it is no wonder he was selected as high as he was. His playmaking skills were on full display as he averaged over an assist per game and finished with 86 points in just 59 games to lead the team in scoring.
He was unable to make the jump to the NHL the following season, and the organization felt he'd be better suited with another year of junior. So Voracek continued to dominate the QMJHL in 2007-08, registering 101 points in just 53 games.
He progressed as expected in his first two NHL seasons, registering 38 points in his rookie season and then 50 in his second season. However, in 2010-11, his offensive production seemed to come to a halt, and he was unable to build off of his 50 point campaign the year prior, recording just 46 points instead. His defensive play continued to improve, as evidenced by his -3 rating on a very poor team, but he simply wasn't becoming the first line player that the organization had expected when they drafted him. At worst, he resembled a second line winger, but the organization was looking for star power and thus, Voracek was packaged with a first round selection and sent to Philadelphia for Jeff Carter.
This year, Voracek is continuing the offensive pace he set back in 2009-10, having recorded just 28 points in 48 games. He's firmly established himself as a productive NHLer, but has yet to reach the expectations that come with his draft position, and likely never will.
At just 23-years-old, Stefan Legein has seemingly experienced everything but an NHL game.
The rugged winger had a phenomenal draft year in 2006-07 in which he averaged over a point-per-game and accumulated 115 penalty minutes. The following year, he noticed his stock rise thanks in large part to an impressive showing for team Canada at the World Juniors. However, in August of 2008, a month before he was set to begin his pro career, Legein retired from hockey. Of course, at just 19, not many actually expected Legein to stay away from the game for good and he didn't, playing 26 games for the Blue Jackets affiliate that season, scoring just one goal.
He seemed to be adjusting to the pro game the following season, but it wasn't long before he was shipped to the Philadelphia Flyers where he spent a season and a half playing for the Adirondack Phantoms. His crash-and-bang style and his offensive potential seemed to make him a perfect fit for the Flyers organization, but he was once again dealt at the beginning of this season, this time to the Los Angeles Kings.
In 28 games with the Kings AHL affiliate, Legein has eight points through 33 games.
Will Weber, D, Gaylord H.S (Michigan) – 2nd round, 53rd overall
NHL Games Played: 0
Almost five years since he has been drafted, Will Weber has yet to play in a professional game; though, of course, that is because he is currently finishing up his senior season at Miami University (Ohio).
The Michigan product began play in the USHL the year after his draft, playing for the Chicago Steel. With his size and statute, he physically dominated, and put up decent offensive numbers with 18 points in 46 games.
Since beginning his collegiate career, his offense has dwindled, but Weber has been one of the school's most reliable defensemen, even winning the award given to the top defensive defenseman in the CCHA conference two seasons ago. Defense, after all, is his bread and butter; the now 23-year-old is calm and poised in his own end and has a mean physical streak, evidenced by his near 60-plus penalty minutes the last three seasons.
This season, he is not only on pace for his fewest penalty minutes in a season, but also points. With just three assists in 24 games, the blueliner is having a tough time posting points in what should be his most productive season – his fourth and final. That said, he will still certainly earn a professional contract, where he'll be expected to be a shutdown force for the Springfield Falcons in 2012-13.
Much like Weber drafted before him, Jake Hansen has yet to finish school. But after an offensively-dry first three seasons, he appears to be coming into his own in his fourth and final year at the University of Minnesota with 24 points in 27 games.
After his draft year, the lanky winger returned to Sioux Falls of the USHL where he registered 58 points in 60 games. He was recruited to the University of Minnesota and had a fairly average freshman season, posting seven points in 33 games in limited ice time. His offense picked up a tad in his next two seasons, where he totaled 12 and 20 points respectively, but this year he's emerged as a legitimate NHL prospect.
He isn't overly physical but is strong along the boards, protecting the puck. He is also a threat on the power-play, scoring over half of his goals last season with the man advantage.
A year before the Blue Jackets selected Nikita Filatov, they drafted another highly touted Russian, Maksim Mayorov, in the fourth round. Unlike Filatov however, Mayorov is a physical, big-bodied winger with a knack for going to the net, and was thought of as a future power forward during his draft year.
He didn't come to North America until the 2008-09 season, and since then, besides a short stint with Columbus this year, he's been playing exclusively in the AHL. His first season was promising; in 71 games he scored 17 goals and added 14 assists, all while dealing with cultural and language barriers. For whatever reason, he was unable to improve upon the numbers in his next two seasons for Springfield, posting eerily similar point totals.
After finally cracking the Blue Jackets roster out of training camp this season, Mayorov was sent back to Springfield after just eight games. He's recorded eight points in 17 games since being demoted, and it is unlikely that he remains in North America for much longer if he can't get back to the NHL.
Allen York, G, Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) – 6th round, 158th overall
NHL Games Played: 4
York didn't begin his collegiate career until the 2008-09 season. In 16 games as a freshman for R.P.I, he posted a respectable .901 save percentage, but finished with a less than stellar 5-10 record.
Both the team and York himself improved over the next two seasons, however. His sophomore season was much better and his junior season in 2010-11, he led the team to an 18-11-4 record, posting a 2.17 goals against average and sparkling .924 save percentage. Rather than return for his senior season, York decided to sign a contract with the Blue Jackets, who were looking for goaltending depth. He went 3-1 with Springfield at the end of the season, and looked great in each game.
Yet, he was unable to carry that momentum into this season, as he stumbled out of the gate in Columbus after injuries to Curtis Sanford and Mark Dekanich. In four appearances with the Jackets, he went winless, posting a .878 save percentage. Since then, he's played in both the AHL and ECHL, and has been struggling at both levels.
As a seventh round selection, Vogelhuber didn't come with high expectations, and thus far, his career path has mostly been what had been expected.
In four seasons with Miami University (Ohio), the Ohio native has just 45 points over 132 games. This is his senior year, and it is highly unlikely he signs a pro contract with Columbus.