The Blue Jackets are in year 10 of their existence which has seen two General Managers and 6 coaches. Columbus held the first overall pick once, taking Rick Nash in 2002, and have selected inside the top ten for their first 9 drafts. Columbus has made the playoffs just once, which means they have been extremely underwhelming considering the draft picks they’ve had.
Here now are some of those picks in recent year...
Top Forward: Nikita Filatov
6.0, 185, 13 GP 2-0-2 / 24 GP 9-14-23
When Columbus drafted Filatov 6th overall in 2008, most people thought he was a sure thing when it came to Russians coming to the NHL. When TPS talked to him before the draft, he spoke about learning English and his anticipation for playing in the NHL. He was even willing to play in Sudbury of the OHL who drafted him in the import draft. After a year in the AHL where he notched 32 points in 39 games and 8 contests at the NHL level, Filatov was ready for a full season with the big club. However after just 13 games where he played as little ast 4:49 and only as much as 14:06, Filatov asked for and received permission to return to Russia. The move appears to have agreed with him as he’s almost at a point per game pace in the KHL. During the World Junior Championship Filatov had some interesting things to say about whether or not he would return to the Jackets. He’s easily one of the most skilled prospects in the system, but some might wonder about his commitment to the team. Now that Ken Hitchcock is no longer behind the bench, I would expect to see Filatov back in Columbus next year.
Top Defenceman: John Moore
6.02, 189, 49 GP 8-30-38
In his draft year of 2009 one scout told us that people might pay money to see Moore skate laps, others compared his fluid style with Paul Coffey. After 2 years in the USHL Moore picked the OHL over the NCAA, backing out of a commitment with Colorado College and joining the Kitchener Rangers. I would describe his season as average, judging by his 38 points in 49 games and it was a disappointment that he wasn’t selected to the gold medal winning USA squad for the World Junior Championship. When he’s not carrying the puck out of his own end with ease, Moore can make a fine first pass. He has a good shot from the point but might be a better play making d-man. What he does need to improve on is his physical play and using his good size to his advantage.
Top Goalie: Allen York
6.03, 175, 18 GP 9-6-2, 2.30, .918
One thing Allen York has is experience in big games, having taken the Camrose Kodiaks to a national championship. This year at RPI York leads the ECAC in minutes played, is 2nd in wins and 4th in goals against and save percentage. As long as Steve Mason rebounds from his sophomore slump, there’s no need to rush York, especially when he’s getting a ton of playing time. He might be behind Dan Lacosta and Kevin Lalonde in experience but I feel York has more upside then the two goalies who are playing for Syracuse this year. (Photo: RPI Athletics)
Most Underrated: David Savard
6.01, 200 53 GP 12-53-65
Savard is looking like he might be the steal of the 2009 draft. After a 44 point season in his draft year, he’s racked up 65 in 53 games with Moncton this season. He was ranked by some publications as a 2nd round pick, but slipped to the 4th round where Columbus picked him up. One of the most calm players on the ice, Savard is averaging an assist per game this season and leads Moncton in scoring. Last year he averaged a point per game in the playoffs and will be a key cog in the Wildcats having any post season success this season. Savard should make the jump to the AHL next year, but will have to get a bit stronger to have success.
Buzz Worthy: Matt Calvert
5.10, 182, 55 GP 37-38-75
Columbus wanted Calvert to play with Syracuse of the AHL this year and offered their 5th round pick in 2008 a contract, but something odd happened on the way to the signing party. Calvert turned down the deal. Not because he doesn’t like the organization, but rather he wanted to return to his home town and junior team to try and help them win a Memorial Cup. Brandon is hosting and Calvert is playing as an overaged player. While it would be nice for Calvert to be playing with men in the AHL, it’s hard to argue with his choice when you look at his numbers. 37 goals and 75 points in 55 games on a talented Brandon team that features 2009 first round picks Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie. Calvert will gain tremendous experience as the Wheat Kings try and enter the Memorial Cup through the front door.
Also Making Noise: Maxim Mayorov has regressed in his 2nd AHL season. With Just 20 points through 49 games he’s on pace to come up short of his 09 totals of 31 points. He has stated in the past that if things don’t get better after 2 years then he might think of heading back to his homeland.
(photos courtesy Dave Beebe- The Record, Moncton Wildcats)