Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Johansen pick

As I understand it, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson tried his darndest to trade back, grab some more assets and still pick Ryan Johansen.  That didn't happen, so Howson drafted Johansen anyway.

Even the casual CBJ hockey fan knows that the Jackets desperately needed a top line (premier) center.  (Or a top-pair defenseman, or perhaps a development goalie...)  So what did we draft?  A center.

And what do we know about said center, you ask?
Puck Rakers: Johansen is not going to be Rick Nash's center in 2010-11. He'll be given a chance to impress at development camp and training camp, but he's almost certain to go back to junior next season. He has two years of junior eligibility remaining, and it's quite possible he uses both years.

Central Scouting (courtesy of The Cannon): He has good on-ice vision and also angles well on the forecheck. He has the intelligence to play power-play as well as penalty kill. He can be shifty and has the ability to beat a defenseman one-on-one. Once he fills out and gains more strength he could turn raw talent into a valuable center at both ends of rink. He has displayed nice playmaking capabilities and this should continue at the next level.
 (I added the emphasis in both cases.)

So we have immediate needs, and we draft a longer-term prospect.  Which makes sense, as the kid is only 17 years old.

I'm pleased that the 2013-2014 pipeline is filling up, but we still need help now.  Johansen could be incredible, but - barring a miracle - he's not going to impact what I see at Nationwide Arena this fall.

And that's why I'm much more interested in the forthcoming trades and/or free agent signings than the draft.

2 comments:

  1. I tended to think we needed one of the "closer to ready" defensemen, but it's hard to argue with Johansen's potential (and a lack of anyone that fits his "potential" development expectations).

    Best-case scenario: he fills out, plays like Joe Thornton, and in 2012 we're talking about a Voracek-Johansen-Nash "Legion of Doom" kind of line for 3-5 years.

    Worst-case scenario: he's another Alex Picard and Fowler/Gorlmey are perennial all-stars and we're again left in the wilderness gnashing our teeth.

    In other words, there's A LOT of gray area in there. :-)

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  2. No argument. My beef is the incredible disconnect between talking about what we need now, drafting a mid- to long-term prospect and then suggesting that we're filling a pressing need.

    Here's a headline for you...we're not filling that need with Johansen. Not anytime soon. We're still going to need a top line center this season. Hence my interest in free agency and trades over the draft.

    The draft is fun as a summertime festival of hockey. And that's about it in my book.

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