Columbus 2000 Draft Preview

By Bill Drake
What does Columbus need? Answer: Everything; scoring, defense, goaltending, a captain, a coach, prospects and a new mascot. Of these items only prospects will be partially filled on June 24th and June 25th. Don’t expect any draft day trades by MacLean, opting instead for the 4th overall pick in the first round.

So who will be chosen? Answer: Nobody knows for sure. Heatley and Gaborik will probably already be chosen by the time Columbus takes the podium. After the 2nd spot who knows what will happen; the draft has few consensus picks after the top four. Players may rise and fall like Ty Jones’ chances of making the Blackhawks. There are some very good players in the 2000 Entry Draft, as for who they are it depends on which scout you talk to.
Here is the list of the likely suspects to be taken 4th overall by the Columbus BlueJackets, including a couple of darkhorse options:

Rick DiPietro – a superb college goaltender that really shined in the WJC for the U.S.A. What makes him so enticing, besides his competitiveness, is his flashy stick handling which forces the opposition to play him like he was a Rover in the 1800’s.

Rostislav Klesla – considered the best all around defenseman in the draft, Klesla combines toughness (174 PIM) with good outlet passes. He projects to be a # 2 Dman.

Raffi Torres – a fan favorite who has yet to play an NHL game. This Brampton LW earns his pay, or will earn his pay, along the boards and in the corners. The best feature of his game however, is his rifle-like shot. His upside is, dare I say, Theo Fleury before moving East? Only time will tell.

Scott Hartnell – Players can have all the skill in the world but without heart they will get nowhere. Don’t worry about Hartnell who is considered a future NHL captain. Scott bears a strong resemblance to Patrick Flatley and Stan Smyl of Canuck lore.

Pavel Vorobiev – Kazakhstan sniper with good speed and a competitive nature which borders on being dirty. The kind of player every team should have. Probably won’t get picked at the 4th spot but stranger things have happened: Mike Rupp anyone?

Nikita Alexeev – A dark horse, but anyone 6-5 & 215 lbs. with blazing speed deserves a long, hard look. Has the possibility to turn into a very effective 2nd line winger. Remember: big men take longer to develop.

Those are my possible selections for Columbus. This is Bill Drake saying stay tuned for June 24th, and if you see Stinger smack him upside his lime-green head.