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HFNHL: Jackets make moves around draft

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06-19-2012, 08:17 AM
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Ohio Jones
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HFNHL: Jackets make moves around draft

The Columbus Blue Jackets may have had a quiet Draft Day One at the podium, making only one selection in Corpus Christi goaltender Anthony Stolarz with the 61st overall pick, but behind the scenes things were hectic leading up to, during and following the draft.

First, the Jackets swapped 2010 3rd round selection D Patrik Nemeth to Philadelphia for AHL All Star netminder Ben Scrivens. Scrivens provides insurance if Devan Dubnyk struggles in a larger role with NHL Edmonton.

Next they acquired the rights to pending UFA defenseman Anton Volchenkov and signed him to a long-term contract, with D Mike Sauer and a 6th round pick in 2012 going the other way . Volchenkov is an elite stay-at-home presence with high-end checking and shot-blocking ability. The Jackets are hoping that he will form one of the league's best shutdown pairings with Ladislav Smid.

Third, Columbus moved depth defenseman Radek Martinek to Winnipeg for a 2013 6th round pick. Martinek provided valuable depth in the run-up to the playoffs, but at $2.1 million was considered too expensive for a full season as a seventh defenseman.

Finally, the Jackets made a big trade with Florida, sending veterans Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley to the Panthers for a collection of futures. Coming to the Jackets are Washington's fourth round pick this year (94th overall) and Florida's 3rd round pick in 2013, along with prospects David Savard, Christian Thomas and Chase Balisy. The move created the roster and cap room needed to sign Volchenkov, and made up in small part for what looks to be a slender draft class.

Savard is a big two-way blueliner and former QMJHL Defenceman of the Year. Thomas, son of Steve "Stumpy" Thomas, is a boom-or-bust winger with terrific hands, speed and smarts - but will they be enough to overcome his size? Balisy is a slight but talented college playmaker with a strong two-way game and great leadership characteristics.

Of the three, Savard is the safe bet for an NHL career, having already made a favorable impression while hitting the ice with the NHL Blue Jackets for 31 games last season (2/8/10/+0/16). Thomas will be an elite scorer, but in what league remains to be seen, as he'll dress next season for the NY Rangers' affiliate in Connecticut. His scoring declined somewhat last season in the OHL; it will interesting to see how he adjusts to playing with men who have 6 inches and 60 pounds on him. While Nashville prospect Balisy has improved by leaps and bounds during his freshman and sophomore years at Western Michigan, the former 6th round pick remains a longshot to reach the NHL.

Getting the early fourth round selection back was important to Columbus, as they apparently have a couple of names targeted that they think have significant upside. How much upside - and whether those names last until 94 - remains to be seen. The Jackets also hold the 108th, 120th and 134th picks, and will hope to unearth a diamond or two to add to a much-depleted farm system following two years of trading for NHL assets.

With these moves, the Jackets' 2012-13 lineup currently projects as follows:

Franzen - Briere - Burrows
Clarkson - Zajac - Little
Dubinsky - Kelly - Kulemin
Smith-Pelly - Geoffrion - Thorburn

Timonen - Giordano
Smid - Volchenkov
Gunnarsson - Clitsome

Vokoun
Dubnyk

The Jackets' farm boasts elite defensive prospects in Dougie Hamilton, Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin. It also has good depth at forward with the likes of Devante Smith-Pelly, Blake Geoffion, Carl Klingberg and Patrice Cormier, but lacks true top-6 forward talent. Scrivens, Leland Irving, Mike Lee and Stolarz offer some hope in net, but none are considered franchise netminders so that remains an area of weakness as well.

Having freed up some cap room, the Jackets may explore their options on the free agent market, but with most players re-signed and the rest expected to command inflated salaries, the team may choose to stick with its current makeup to start the new season.


Last edited by Ohio Jones: 06-19-2012 at 08:41 AM.
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06-22-2012, 01:58 PM
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The Blue Jackets ended up making five selections in this year's HFNHL Entry Draft. Looking back it seems size was an unconscious consideration, as the smallest draftee is Chris Tierney at 6-0/181. (But we just traded for Christian Thomas and Chase Balisy, so I guess size isn't a "huge hangup"...).

As noted, in a draft full of good defencemen, the Blue Jackets didn't select one until their final pick, #134 overall. Perhaps this suggests that perhaps positional need in the organization filtered somewhere into the team's rankings, putting forwards slightly ahead of blueliners of comparable ability/potential... but again, that would be unintentional, and might simply be a coincidence.

NHL Update: A solid draft overall (if the NHL has anything to say about it). Only one player dropped (Prokhorkin - the "Russian factor" a consideration here, I suspect), and he went in the same round that I took him.

We are pleased to welcome the following prospects to the HFNHL Columbus Blue Jackets organization:


G Anthony Stolarz (NAHL Corpus Christi) 6-5/200
HFNHL Entry Draft: 3/61
NHL Entry Draft: PHI 2/45 (+16) -- finally be the answer to the Flyers' decades-long goalie drought?

Redline (#67): Huge, rangy and athletic goaltender is fast on his feet and makes quick reactionary stops. Plays with fire and is very confident and consistent in net. Patient and reads developing plays well – great instincts. Very vocal with his defencemen and is a capable puck-mover. Active stick and does a fine job of directing rebounds to corners. Collapses quickly into a compact butterfly and doesn’t allow many body-hole goals. Gets good push off either skate moving side-to-side, but needs to work on his lateral movement from the butterfly. Strong in traffic and is able to cover the top half form his knees. Fast feet/legs. Must improve glove hand – tend to just block shots instead of trapping them. Has high-end potential – poor competition level he faced in NAHL is the major question mark. Legitimate goaltending coach could do wonders with his natural talent.
Projection: strong back-up with homerun upside.
Style compares to: Ondrej Pavelec

Future Considerations (#108): An athletic puck stopper with great size. He has great raw talent that has many excited for his future. He is extremely mobile with good feet and excellent post to post mobility. His feet are already quick but can improve even more with better coaching. Drops into a butterfly quickly and has the size to cover both high and the entire lower area from one side of the net to the other. His athleticism and quickness for such a huge frame is what really stands out at you as he moves like a five-foot-ten forward. His wing span and leg extension are very impressive and despite showing holes due to his lankiness, he covers up quickly. The ability to read the play and anticipate are all works in progress. His puck handling has shown signs of becoming a strength as he is aggressive and confident out of his crease. Flashes a very quick glove and he never gives up on a play. A long term commitment for whatever team nabs the University of Nebraska-Omaha commit but over time, this prospect could really pay off.
NHL POTENTIAL: Project NHL goaltender.

The Goalie Guild: http://thegoalieguild.com/2012/05/pr...thony-stolarz/


C/W Nikolai Prokhorkin (CSKA RusII) 6-2/193
HFNHL Entry Draft: 4/94
NHL Entry Draft: LAK 4/121 (-27) -- our only faller on draft day goes to the Cup Champions -- hopefully he does better there for us than Loktionov did

Redline (#56): Right now he’s more about potential than production. Excellent size-strength ration. Strong on skates and tough to separate from the puck. Has long reach and uses body well to shield the puck. Skates well for his size with good speed, a quick first step, and smooth stride. Has vision and strong playmaking skills – can make touch passes off both sides of the blade. Makes good decisions with the puck in transition through the neutral zone. Doesn’t use big body to full advantage yet physically, but doesn’t avoid contact and is willing to take hits to make plays. We’d like to see him get more aggressive and assertive. Very good hands for his size – controls puck well in tight space. Good overall hockey sense in all three zones and defensively responsible.
Projection: Fine 3rd line centre for top contender.
Style compares to: Tomas Kopecky.

THN (#72): Talented winger dominated in junior, played well in KHL call-up.

ISS (#51):
Size/Strength - Very Good
Skating - Very Good
Puck Skills - Very Good
Shot – Good
Offensive Play
Very Good
Defensive Play – Good
Physical Play – Good
Competitiveness – Good
Hockey Sense – Good
Strengths: slick with puck, not afraid to push and shove, reliable in own end. Weaknesses: consistency & needs to bulk up. Skill: Offensive winger who can finish and set up but is also effective on PK and in own end.
A big and rangy winger, Prokhorkin is a skilled offensive minded forward who is blessed with a ton of natural tools and ability. He has good size, a tall and lanky frame with the potential to really fill out and get stronger. He has had a very good junior career and has already played some quality minutes in the KHL as well. He is a gifted puck handler who can win space off the rush and from the perimeter towards the middle. He has a good shot and generally tends to make a move before letting it loose but he is also a capable playmaker who seems to react to his options quickly enough. He throws hits and backchecks well and when he’s on can be a very effective player. However, he does have a tendency to fade or disappear for stretches of time though.
NHL Potential: Complimentary 2nd liner to a depth player for teams needing more offense.
Style compares to: Nik Antropov.

Future Considerations (#56): A big, strong Russian centreman with a creative side to his game. His skating is good; although, he could improve his speed with more strength. He has no problem playing with smaller, faster players and can keep up well for such a big guy. He seems to see the ice well, even when in full flight, and makes strong passes to his linemates. He is creative with the puck and has the sense to know what to do in the offensive zone. He uses his size and reach to protect the puck, win battles for the puck and power his way into scoring zones. He isn’t one to consistently throw big hits or get involved in the rough stuff. He actually broke his finger in his only fight earlier this season. His wrist shot is good and hard; it usually finds the mark. His instinct is to look pass first more often than not. As is the case with many young Russian forwards, his consistency and shift-to-shift work rate is not something that has scouts willing to make him a high selection, despite all of his talents. But when he’s on, he can be dominant.
NHL POTENTIAL: Top six offensive forward.


C Chris Tierney (OHL London) 6-0/181
HFNHL Entry Draft: 4/108
NHL Entry Draft: SJS 2/55 (+53) -- hard worker a perfect fit for the Sharks

Redline (#87): Rangy centre received very little icetime until Christmas on a stacked London forward brigade, but emerged from the shadows with increased responsibility and made a late charge up our charts. Has been nearly a point-per-game player over the second half of the season while centering a unit that has been, ostensibly, the Knights’ fourth line, but has often been the club’s most effective trio during their march to the Memorial Cup. Frequently matched up against the opposition’s #1 centre, and has excelled. He’s a fluid skater with a long stride and creates chances with his speed. Every one of his goals this season have come at even strength, as he sees no PP time on the deep Knights. He is, however, the team’s top penalty-killing forward, where his speed and anticipation make him dangerous. Late-blooming sleeper with lots of room for growth in his game.
Projection: Attacking third line center on a good club.
Style compares to: Lars Eller

ISS (#95):
Size/Strength - Average
Skating - Very Good
Puck Skills - Good
Shot - Good
Hockey Sense - Excellent
Tierney is a smart, hard working forward that plays a very consistent and effective game. Tierney helped his draft stock with outstanding two-way performance helping the Knights to an OHL Championship. Strong skater, smart dependable player that is relied upon when protecting leads at the end of games. Displays good character and leadership qualities.
Potential third-line center at the NHL level who plays a smart, hard, north-south game.


LW Jujhar Khaira (BCHL Prince George) 6-3/190
HFNHL Entry Draft: 4/120
NHL Entry Draft: EDM 3/63 (+57) -- Oil could use a big, mean complementary winger to give the skill guys room

Redline (#108): At Red Line, we believe this kid could be the biggest/best sleeper of the entire draft. Prince George is so far off the beaten path teams don’t even travel there for WHL games, much less BCHL, so he gets zero exposure. But this kid is mean, aggressive, nasty, and guess what… he can score too. Does the dirty work in the corners, bangs bodies and wins battles, and loves to initiate heavy contact. Powerful stride with great balance and gets leverage on his hits. Has surprisingly soft hands and puck skills with playmaking ability. Creates lots of space for smaller teammates and makes everyone braver. Very raw defensively.
Projection: Big-bodied bottom six power winger.
Style compares to: Taylor Pyatt.

ISS (#148): Khaira has been turning heads and converting doubters into believers for the past two seasons in the BCHL. At first glance, he has good size but doesn’t really blow you away with any particular skill. Put him into the game and you quickly get a different understanding of the player. He is a smart and positionally intuitive. Khaira has a very good shot with a rapid release and he plays with some fire. He is competent at protecting the puck but really has not learned to use his size to his full advantage just yet. He needs to improve his power and overall footspeed. Will continue to blossom under excellent coach Mel Pearson at Michigan Tech 2012.

Future Considerations (#149): He finds the quiet zones, has quick hands and a quick shot, but needs to improve his skating.

D Rhett Holland (AJHL Okotoks) 6-2/220
HFNHL Entry Draft: 5/134
NHL Entry Draft: PHX 4/102 (+32) -- Yotes' young D core lacked a big body who will make opponents pay. Not anymore!

Redline (#68): One big, mean, physical, aggressive ******* who knows exactly how he has to play in order to make it at the NHL level, and he embraces that style. Huge hitter is an extremely powerful man-child who hits to intimidate. Menacing physical presence looks to step up at the blue line and catch forwards with their heads down. Makes opposing puck carriers pay a steep price for real estate in front of net or around corners. Does try too hard at times to be tough and set a tone, and takes himself out of position in doing so – should stick to being a simple, stay-at-home defender. Good mobility and edge work allow him to contain and stick with quicker forwards in coverage, but often does not activate his feet against the rush and gets caught watching instead. Has no interest in, nor instincts for, the offensive end.
Projection: #5-6 d-man and nasty physical presence.
Style compares to: Sheldon Brookbank.

ISS (#199): Shows leadership. Effective physical defender. Not flashy, limited offensively. Plays within his game and doesn't try to do too much. Good skating skills. Strong in the corners and in front of the net. Tough and respected. Committed: Michigan State '12.

Future Considerations (#168): A big, physical, stay-at-home type defender with a good shot; he needs to work on his feet.


Last edited by Ohio Jones: 06-23-2012 at 12:48 PM.
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06-22-2012, 02:16 PM
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Very solid draft!

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06-23-2012, 12:48 PM
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Updated with NHL Draft outcomes (in red, above).

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06-30-2012, 02:56 PM
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Columbus' 2008 2nd-round draft pick defenceman Justin Schultz has agreed to an entry-level deal with the Edmonton Oilers, where he becomes the young centrepiece of their new blueline, and the quarterback of a powerplay that boasts Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Nail Yakupov.*

Boo-yah!

*Edit: too bad there are no Blue Jackets forwards with that kind of talent and potential.


Last edited by Ohio Jones: 06-30-2012 at 04:08 PM.
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07-03-2012, 03:35 PM
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Rumblings out of Columbus on the eve of free agency suggest the team has signed off on some major roster moves. We'll keep you posted as we learn more.

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07-05-2012, 03:09 AM
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The Columbus Blue Jackets announced a pair of major trades completed within minutes of one another.

The first, as scooped by the wily Vin Visser, is the big one: the Blue Jackets acquired perennial All-Star center Eric Staal from the Vancouver Canucks for vereran forward Bryan Little and Chris Kelly, along with the rights to the Jackets' top prospect, defenceman Dougie Hamilton. Columbus also receives Seth winger Brandon Yip.

Part of the deal hinged on a flip of picks, with Vancouver moving its own 3rd round pick for the Jackets' 2nd rounder next year (a show-stopper for Vancouver oven their historically dismal success with their third-round picks!).

The move brings the Jackets a truly elite player in Staal, but left them with depth issues up front and a major cap crunch given Staal had just signed a four-year extension in Vancouver as an RFA for the league maximum salary of $8 million.

These considerations prompted the second trade, with GM Emerson's former club in Washington, sending prospects David Savard, Christian Thomas and Leland Irving to the Capitals for playmaking winger Teddy Purcell. While seen as an overpayment, Purcell's extremely favorable HFNHL contract was necessary to fit Staal's massive contract.

"We feel we've significantly improved our talent today," GM Emerson told reporters on making the announcement. "These are two gifted offensive players in their prime. Teddy has proven to be a dynamic playmaker, and Eric... Well, we believe Eric is one of the best players in the game. Period."

Emerson went on to say it was very difficult for the club to move so many assets, especially Hamilton, but that when the chance comes along to acquire an elite young player in his prime, you do what has to be done.

"That's been a criticism of this organization - of me - in the past, and maybe a fair one: that we assembled great depth, but has been unwilling to pay the price to acquire a true difference-maker. That's what we felt was lacking in our disappointing finish to this year's playoffs - someone who could put the team on his back and manufacture offense.

"Guess we can put that criticism to bed, huh?"

With the moves, the Jackets' forward lines shake out as follows:

Franzen - Staal - Briere
Purcell - Zajac - Burrows
Clarkson - Dubinsky - Kulemin
Smith-Pelly - [Free Agent] - Thorburn

With the blueline and goal positions seemingly set, that leaves the Jackets looking for just a fourth-line center going into free agency - fortunately there look to be many useable and cost-effective options available, so they shouldn't have a problem completing their roster in time for training camp.

And the we'll see whether this massive gamble pays of!

[As an aside, just wanted to congratulate both Josh and Sean on being tough but fair negotiators, and a special nod to Sean who moved Staal: his very first HFNHL draft selection and the heart and soul of his team for the past decade. A pleasure, gentlemen!]

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