The Columbus Blue Jackets went into the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh with several question marks surrounding their future. One of the biggest unknowns in the Buckeye State’s capital was goaltending, and Friday before the draft, the Blue Jackets made a move that could solidify their future between the pipes by trading three draft picks to the Philadelphia Flyers for Sergei Bobrovsky. The 23 year old native of Novokuznetsk, Russia spent the last two seasons with the Flyers, adapting his skill set to North American hockey after starting his career in his homeland with Metallurg. Columbus gave up the 45th (previously acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes) and 117th (previously acquired from the Vancouver Canucks) picks in this year’s draft as well as a 4thround selection in the 2013 Draft that was also acquired from Phoenix. With the traded selections, Philadelphia drafted goaltender Anthony Stolarz and winger Taylor Leier. Bobrovsky is considered by many to be a budding star and Columbus might just be his place to shine. Another plus from bringing in “Bob” is the possibility that he could push Steve Mason to improve on his game. With two young goaltenders that have a lot to prove, the Blue Jackets might have finally solidified their future in net. Overall the Blue Jackets made six selections in the 2012 draft, starting with the second overall selection, and with that
selection Columbus took defensemen Ryan Murray of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. The 18 year old racked up 104 points in 168 games with Everett over the past three seasons. Murray, a strong two way defender, could be part of the Blue Jackets defense as soon as this season. He became the youngest player to suit up for team Canada at the IIHF World Championships since Paul Kariya this spring, and should be a solid addition to the Jackets blue line for a long time to come. When the second and third rounds rolled around on day two, the Blue Jackets turned their attention back to goaltending, and selected a pair of European prospects. In round two, they selected Swedish native Oscar Dansk, before taking Joonas Korpisalo of Finland in round three. Both prospects played in Junior leagues in their respective countries as Dansk made 29 appearances for Brynas’ of the Swedish Junior league, while Korpisalo recorded four shutouts in 38 appearances for Jokerit of the Finnish Junior league. Dansk, 18, was taken by the Erie Otters in the CHL import draft and looks to be a very promising prospect for Columbus. Korpisalo, 17, was taken by the Prince George Cougars in the CHL import draft and also looks like a solid selection by Columbus.
With their fourth round pick, the Jackets finally took a forward as they selected right wing Josh Anderson from the OHL champion London Knights. The 18 year old native of Burlington, Ontario racked up 22 points in 64 games with London last season. Again in round five the Blue Jackets took a right wing, this time going the European route by selecting Helsingborg, Sweden native Daniel Zaar. Zaar notched 38 points in 44 games with Rogle Jr. of the Swedish Junior League this past season. Finally, Columbus finished up by selecting defensemen Gianluca Curcuruto from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Curcuruto participated in the CHL top-prospects game and looks to be yet another solid selection by the Blue Jackets. Overall, Columbus had a fairly strong draft weekend. They not only brought in a solid netminder, but added depth at the position. The selection of Murray will help solidify the blue line for a long time to come and who knows, any or all three of the later selections could blossom into a late round steal. With a solid draft in the books, Scott Howson and company can set their focus on free agency, which opens on July 1st.
Andrew is Blue Jackets correspondent and an up and coming writer planning on a long career in the hockey world. His eventual goal is to be a play by play broadcaster.