The day after the 2000 Expansion Draft the Columbus Blue Jackets organization experienced their first NHL entry draft. They would pick 4th.
Who did the Blue Jackets choose to draft and where are they now?
With the 4th pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft the Columbus Blue Jackets selected defenseman Rusty Klesla of the Brampton Battalion.
During the inaugural season Klesla made the 8 games he played with the Blue Jackets count and tallied 2 goals. Klesla’s outstanding performance in those 8 games helped solidify him a permanent spot on the Blue Jackets roster.
In the 10 seasons Klesla was with the Blue Jackets he was an unnatural force. His body was a cannonball destroying anything and anyone who got in his way. Fans quickly became attached to Klesla and his enthusiasm for the team and the city of Columbus. On April 31, 2011 Jackets fans became heart-broken when Klesla was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto.
Plagued by injuries during his time with the Coyotes Klesla was traded to the Capitals for Martin Erat in March of 2014. Not even 24 hours passed before the Capitals flipped Klesla to the Buffalo Sabres for Halak. Instead of reporting to the Sabres AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, Klesla opted to end his NHL career and head to Europe. He signed a two-year contract with HC Ocelean Trinec of the Czech Republic where he was named captain.
During the 2014-15 season Klesla fearlessly lead HC Trinec to the Czech Extraliga Finals. While HC Trinec won the Presidental Cup that season for best record they lost the Finals to HC Verva Litvinov.
The Jackets traded away their 2nd round selection for goaltender Marc Denis.
Ben Knopp of the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) was selected by the Blue Jackets 69th overall. After being drafted Knopp continued to play in the WHL for both the Moose Jaw Warriors and Kamloops Blazers. Knopp started the 2002-03 season playing in the ECHL for the Dayton Bombers. By the end of the season he was playing for the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).
For the next two seasons Knopp would bounce between the AHL and ECHL before playing is final season of hockey for the Berlin Junior Polar Bears in the GerObl.
Knopp is currently a contract sales representative for Horizon Oilfield Solutions, Inc.
The Blue Jackets traded their 4th round selection to the New York Islanders on May 11, 2000 for Chris Neilson.
Loaded with 3 round 5 picks, the Jackets selected Petteri Nummelin, Scott Hetternan, and Tyler Kolarik.
Nummelin played 61 games in the inaugural Blue Jackets season. He tallied 4 goals and 12 assists. At the end of the season Nummelin signed with Lugano in Switzerland.
He would stay with Lugano until signing with the Minnesota Wild on June 14, 2006. The Wild signed Nummelin based on his outstanding international play. In 2006, he helped the Finnish Nation team win an Olympic silver medal. Nummelin also led all defensemen in scoring (3 goals, 11 assists) at the 2006 World Championship during the Finnish national team’s bronze medal run.
Nummelin went back to Lugano at the start of the 2008-09 season. In the 2012-13 season he began playing for TPS Turku of SM-Liga. Nummelin still plays there today.
Defenseman Scott Heffernan never set foot on the NHL ice. He played for the Sarnia Sting, Tronoto St. Michael’s Majors, and the Dayton Bombers (ECHL).
Heffernan currently works as a strength trainer for the company he helped found, Capital Strength. Located in Ottawa, Capital Strength focuses on developing athletes to be successful in their craft.
Kolarik played all four years at Harvard winning the ECAC Championship twice. He graduated with a degree in psychology.
After college, Kolarik began playing with the Dayton Bombers (ECHL) starting the 2004-05 season. He was called up to the Syracuse Crunch for two games that season. Kolarik would end his career in 2005-06 playing for both the Crunch and Bombers.
In 2007, Kolarik joined Harbinger Group Inc. as an Associate and Director of Investments. He then went on to become the Vice President of Investments for the company in October of 2011.
Red Deer Rebels goalie, Shane Bendera, was selected 169th by the Blue Jackets in the 2000 Entry Draft. He never saw NHL or AHL ice time.
Bendera played with the Red Deer Rebels until the 2001-02 season when he was traded to the Kelowna Rockets. During the 2002-03 season he played 39 games in the ECHL for the Dayton Bombers. Bendera would finish his playing career with the Bakersfield Condors in 2004.
In 2010, Bendera began working with Armour-Clad contracting in Edmonton as an architectural Designer and Estimator. He worked there for a year.
Janne Jokila of TPS Turku (Finnish Jr. League) was drafted 200th by the Blue Jackets.
After being drafted, Jokila continued to play for TPS Turku through the 2001-02 season. He made the trek across the ocean in 2002 to play for the USHL’s River City Lancers. He spent the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons bouncing between the Syracuse Crunch and Dayton Bombers.
At the start of the 2005-06 season Jokila headed back overseas to play for FPS of Mestis. He ended his playing career at the end of the 2013-14 season with the Milton Keynes Lightning fo the EPIHL.
Jokila is currently the head coach of TUTO U18 of the Jr. B Mestis League.
Peter Zingoni was drafted 231st overall by the Blue Jackets.
Zigoni played hockey at Providence College and graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science, Business Management. He then went on to play for the Philadelphia Phantoms from 2006-2008. During the 2006-07 season Zigoni received the Unsung Hero Award.
The Norfolk Admirals had the pleasure of housing Zingoni for the 2008-09 season. While there he won the “Man of the Year” award for outstanding contributions to the community of Norfolk, Virginia.
From 2009-2011, Zingoni played for the Houston Aeroes. He retired at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Today Zingoni keeps himself quite busy. He owns the Competitive Edge Hockey School, is the Vice President of Jacobs Realty Group, and is the Director of Business Development and Client Relations at Global Spectrum.
The Blue Jackets entered into the 9th round of the 2000 Entry Draft with 3 picks. Martin Paroulek of HC Vsetin, Andrej Nedorost of ESC Moskitos Essen, and Louis Mandeville of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were selected.
After being drafted, Paroulek played one more season with HC Vsetin (Czech). For the 2001-02 and 2002-03 season he was brought back to America to play for the Syracuse Crunch. Paroulek would go back to the Czech league until the end of the 2006-07 season when he would cross over to the Slovakian league for Trencin. He would retire at the end of the 2010-11 season.
During the Blue Jackets inaugural season Nedorost playing in the Czech U20 league for HC Plzen. From 2001-2004 he bounced between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Syracuse Crunch before heading to Russia to play for Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Today Nedorost plays for VEU Feldkrich in Austria.
Mandeville was the last player drafted by the Blue Jackets in the 2000 Entry Draft. He played in the QMJHL until the end of the 2002-03 season. While there Mandeville saw ice time with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Halifax Mooseheads, and Sherbrooke Castors.
Mandeville then began playing in the OUAA for U. of Quebec Trois Rivieres until the end of the 2005-6 season. For the 2006-07 and 2007-8 season he played in the AUS for U. of Moncton.
He would end his hockey playing career in 2011 after playing 3 seasons for the Trois Rivieres Caron and Guay.
Elaine is in her first year writing for The Hockey Writers. She will mostly be covering the Columbus Blue Jackets, Lake Erie Monsters, NWHL, and the charitable works all hockey players partake in.
She just ended a two season internship with the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets.