With excitement around the league building for the big day, its time to continue looking into potential draft scenarios. Obviously the draft is a key part to building or rebuilding a franchise, and this year’s draft has just the right amount of star power to get any team going.
It seems reminiscent of the 2003 draft, in which all 30 first round picks played in at least one game, and 27 of those picks played in 240 games. In fact, a few of those players are captains of their respective teams now, like Eric Staal and Ryan Getzlaf. If there is any draft class that is going to do what 2003 did, its the class of a decade later, 2013.
I’d like to explain what I think may happen at this year’s draft.
In my opinion, I’m not sure there will be many trades, but if there are, it will be because of lots of baiting by the teams with higher picks; lots of trade teasing. What I mean by that is, if there is a desired commodity possessed by a team with a lower pick, the higher team will dangle their draft placement in the face of the lower team, all the while saying they simply want one thing.
If the lower team bites, you’ve got a trade to announce, Mr. Bettman.
But if the lower team, who made it further into the 2013 season than the higher team, isn’t interested in messing up the team that got them this far, which is what I believe will end up happening, then the higher team will have to deal with the options at hand.
As for the Blue Jackets, I think they will draft. Young talent is the core of any team because it lasts. And with this team that is searching for their identity (I mean, come on guys, we don’t even have a captain right now), young talent is a must have.
Now, who might they draft? Well, there’s two players I think would fit best in Columbus: Max Domi of the London Knights or Ryan Hartman of the Plymouth Whalers.
Let’s have look at Max. Yes, that’s Domi as in son of Tie Domi, long-time agitator in the NHL. But don’t expect fights from this kid, for one thing he’s just 5’9″ and 185 lbs. But he is a natural born playmaker with a heck of a scoring touch. For an example of his playmaking ability look no further than his between the legs saucer pass in the Memorial Cup Playoffs. Here’s a video of the feat:
You can see Domi first receive the pass from one teammate before making the ridiculous saucer over to Bo Horvat. This is a prime showcase of Domi’s playmaking ability, and is a big reason he has gotten so much attention. After all, the video got more than 80,000 hits!
In terms of stats, this past season Domi finished tied for 8th OHL scoring with 87 points in 64 games. Some would say those aren’t NHL numbers. Well, he’s not in the NHL. Yet. In Columbus, Domi would flourish with the larger spotlight he would receive there rather than some other potential markets, i.e. Winnipeg.
Columbus and London are already connected by a player known as Rick Nash. That’s right, the ex-captain of the Jackets is a London alumnus. Just a fun fact for you guys.
As for Ryan Hartman, though his numbers from this past season (60 points in 56 games), his first, for those keeping score at home, aren’t as impressive as Domi’s, he is ranked higher as a prospect due to his size and versatility. He weighs the same as Domi, but has two inches over him.
The thing that sets Hartman apart is his feistiness. His 120 PIMs launched him into seventh place in that category in the OHL last year, and several of his best highlights are bone-crunching hits. Hartman would bring some grit to CBJ, and would be a heart and soul player, well liked by his teammates.
I believe these are the two players that Jarmo Kekalainen will have to decide between when it comes time for pick #14. But if there are higher ranked players that remain available at that time, which there will be, he may go to them simply because they have more favorable scouting reports. But in my opinion, I believe these two are the best fits for CBJ and deserve a long look.
In the end, I think the Jackets select Ryan Hartman because of his grittiness and ability to produce offense. His numbers weren’t as good as Domi’s, but they certainly weren’t bad, and in today’s game, a gritty player can make a huge difference.