Sunday, June 26, 2011

DBJ's 2011 CBJ draft recap

The sun has set on another National Hockey League draft, and I again find myself having a hard time getting jazzed about 18-year-olds that we won't see in Columbus for three to four years.  That being said, the Blue Jackets were busy...meaning that it's time to review and comment.  After brief review and fleeting consideration, we have two larger themes to discuss.

Taking Out the Trash...AGAIN

Yup, the Howson Sanitation Co. rides again.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that this graphic would get
so much use in just two years.
Our intrepid General Manager appears to have had a big change of heart regarding his prospects, trading two of his four first round picks away.  Out goes the happy-go-lucky yet maddeningly plateaued Jakub Voracek and the perpetual KHL flight risk, Nikita Filatov, both expensive early first-round picks.  That means that only defenseman John Moore (of the -18 plus/minus in Springfield last season...ugh) and junior-level megastar Ryan Johansen are still in the CBJ organization as Howson first rounders.

Are Voracek and Filatov BAD hockey players?  Hell no.  They just couldn't display enough on-ice skill and performance to overcome the perceived (and, in Filly's case, demonstrated) flaws in both their games and heads.  Voracek was hell on wheels between the goal lines, but he wasn't filling out his game to the point that scoring chances consistently became goals.  Filatov couldn't/wouldn't play the physical style that the CBJ and NHL demand - and when he tried, he got clobbered.

Beyond the game performance, I'm guessing that there's a locker room quality to both moves.  In team sports, especially in team sports that play virtual year-round schedules, "fit" is a HUGE consideration.  Filatov appears to have been perceived as a prima dona, something that a 19-year-old probably shouldn't be on rosters of twenty-somethings (and a few thirty-somethings).  Voracek was light and funny, but that unflappable attitude sometimes can be perceived as a lack of competitive fire on a team dominated by the likes of gritty warriors past (former NHL grinder Scott Arniel, the head coach) and present (alternate captain and clearly dominating personality on the team, R.J. Umberger).  In both cases, the young stars-to-be just didn't click.  So out they go.

(Don't forget, Gallos offers even more perspective on Filatov in his post-mortem on the trade for Ottawa's third rounder.)

I don't have any read on the cultures of Filatov's new home in Ottawa and Voracek's in Philadelphia, but I'm going to guess that both guys will have a better than average likelihood of NHL success.  They both are extremely gifted yet need to round out their games a little more.  It's just taking a while for their "breakouts" into NHL stardom to happen, and the CBJ are not interested in waiting any longer.

The Year of The Center

Holy jeez - was anything more obvious?  I mean, look at this list:
  • 1st and 3rd round pick (plus Voracek) traded to Philadelphia for 2009 All Star center Jeff Carter
  • 2nd round pick used on Boone Jenner, a center
  • 3rd round pick (picked up from Ottawa for Filatov) gets T.J. Tynan, a center (from my alma mater, Notre Dame - GO IRISH!)
  • 4th round pick nabs Mike Reilly, a defenseman
  • 5th round pick on Seth Ambroz, a right winger
  • 6th round pick goes to Lukas Sedlak, a center
  • 7th round pick gets Anton Forsberg, a goalie
Seven possible picks yielding four centers.  The top three picks all on centers.  Remember, the center position only covers 4 roster slots on a 20+ man roster....yet Howson blew over half his draft (and, talent-wise, the most important picks of his draft) on centers, including one center (Carter) who will be expected to contribute immediately on the Blue Jackets and post Nash-like numbers.

Don't forget that these trades and draft picks are coming on the heels of last year's 4th overall pick, center Ryan Johansen (who is expected to at least compete for a roster spot on the big club this season if not make the roster outright due to a screwy rule that won't let him play in the AHL this season, so it's either Columbus or back to juniors) and that kid that Howson keeps talking about in press conferences, center Michael Chaput. So now we're up to 6 relatively new centers in the CBJ organization within two years.

The scuttlebutt is that Jenner and Ambroz slipped in the draft from possible first-round placement to 2nd and 5th, respectively.  They could be steals.  We shall see.  In 2014 or so.

Past that, I don't have a lot more to say on this draft, but a thought going forward: Howson used past drafts to shore up the defenseman prospect pool (probably could use additional care and feeding, but a genuine defensive coach in Springfield is a bigger concern to avoid squandering the prospects that he's accumulated) and now appears to have the center position stocked.  I'd start placing futures bets on Howson looking at a big-time goalie in next year's draft...especially if Steve Mason plays as inconsistently as he has in the past couple of seasons.


  1. Ha, ha, ha, DBJ -
    LMAO!!!! As God is my witness ....

    Thanks for the Sunday night chuckle!

  2. Niki: Oh Scott! Ah caint bear th' thought of playin' another year in that dreadful Springfield. If Ah caint play with th' big team, ah'll jest die. Whatever shall ah do?

    GMSH: Frankly my dear.....


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