The Blue Jackets are building something special. Not only are the cupboards stocked full with elite prospects in Bjorkstrand, Rychel, Milano; they also have some of their most valuable youngsters in Wennberg and Dano playing a big role on the Jackets. GM Jarmo Kekalainen has only been on the job for about two and a half seasons, but during that time has built a nice core around top line pivot Ryan Johansen. With veterans like Hartnell, Foligno, Tyutin, and now David Clarkson, CBJ prospects have a great leadership core to feed off of. The only issue facing the Jackets is their lack of defensive depth. After the departure of James Wisniewski and the fact that Mike Reilly has chosen to walk, it’s clear the Jackets need to do something to address their blue line. With a deep pool of prospects, a trade is always possible, but if the Jackets are looking at continuing the trend of building through the draft you’d have to think that – much like the Avs and Sharks – they are looking at acquiring a potential top pairing defenceman in one of Werenski, Provorov, or Hanifin. In a case where four forwards are selected with the first four picks, there’s a scenario where the Jackets look at moving up to 5 or 6 in order to grab one of Hanifin or Provorov. They have enough depth at forward where moving a player like Bjorkstrand, Rychel, Anderson, or even Milano are trade options. The name Mikko Rantanen has been tossed around a lot as well, mainly due to the fact he of Finnish descent. Rantanen is a good player, he just doesn’t seem to be a great fit given the amount of forwards already in the organization. In my opinion, it’s defence or trade for the Jackets and it’ll be a very interesting day for Jarmo and all CBJ fans.
Draft Day Gameplan
– Bring in a defenceman via trade. Whether you move out Rychel, Milano, or Bjorkstrand, a defenceman has to be on his way to Ohio.
– If there’s a deal for Dansk consider it. Bob’s not giving up the crease any time soon, so if there’s a deal for a 2nd rounder or defenceman, take it.
– There’s enough high end talent, look for guys like Knott or Dergachyov in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.
– Go heavy on defence. There’s a good amount of defence scattered throughout the draft, don’t be afraid to grab around 5 of them.
Jackets Big Board (Without McEichel)
1. Noah Hanifin
2. Ivan Provorov
3. Dylan Strome
4. Mitchell Marner
5. Zach Werenski
6. Mikko Rantanen
7. Pavel Zacha
8. Mathew Barzal
9. Lawson Crouse
10. Jakub Zboril
Who do they take?
There’s a good chance that Zach Werenski is still on the board at 8 so he’d be the obvious pick. Don’t be surprised if the Jackets are picking somewhere other than 8 though, as they are in dire need of defence who can step into the NHL next season.
Two names come to mind when I look at darkhorses and the Jackets. Denis Guryanov and Oliver Kylington. Both have huge upside but also come with a bit of risk. Kylington the more likely pick in my opinion.