Blue Jackets History: Throwback Thursday 2003 Draft

Blue Jackets History: Throwback Thursday 2003 Draft
Feb 16, 2016; Columbus, OH, USA; A general view of the front of Nationwide Arena prior to the game between the Boston Bruins and the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Blue Jackets History: Throwback Thursday 2003 Draft

With the Blue Jackets playing their first game in the 2000-2001 season, the team does not boast the richest history, but their history undoubtedly has led the team to where they are today.  The Throwback Thursday article series is an attempt to review significant moments and names in the Blue Jackets history to put into perspective how Columbus arrived at the current product on the ice.  At the very least, this segment is an effort to enrich the knowledge of those new to the Blue Jackets team and spark nostalgic discussion amongst those who have been following the team since the beginning.  The first Throwback Thursday feature is a review of the 2003 Draft.

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Many view the 2003 Draft as the strongest class in recent memory.  The draft saw Marc Andre Fleury, Eric Staal, Shea Weber, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron and many more elite talents receive their NHL introduction.  For Columbus, the 2003 draft had some mixed history.  The team only selected four players who would ever see NHL ice time, Nikolai Zherdev, Dan Fritsche, Philippe Dupuis and Marc Methot.  Methot is the only player of the four who is currently playing in the NHL, while none of the drafted players currently play for the Blue Jackets.  This is just scratching the surface; lets review some names of significance for the Blue Jackets:

The Columbus Blue Jackets selected the Russian RW Nikolai Zherdev 4th overall in the draft.  Marc Andre Fluery, Eric Staal and Nathan Horton are the three names that were selected prior to Zherdev.  Then GM of the Blue Jackets, Doug MacLean, outlined that he viewed Zherdev as the top talent in the draft and welcomed the winger into the organization.  In the early years the tandem of Zherdev and Rick Nash proved to be an offensive threat, but prior to the 06-07 season contract disputes arose between the player and team.  The dispute was settled prior to the season with a hefty three year contract, but Zherdev struggled on the ice and clashed with team personnel.  In 2008 Columbus decided to move Nikolai Zherdev to the New York Rangers, where the Russian played his last NHL game in 2009.  The 2008 trade brought Fedor Tyutin and Christian Backman to Columbus for Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche.  Christian Backman left the NHL the following year to sign with Frolunda in Sweden.

The center Dan Fritsche was the Blue Jackets second round selection, 46th overall, in 2003.  The Ohio native was the first Ohio born player to be selected in the Blue Jackets history.  Fritsche currently plays in Switzerland and never made much of an impact in Columbus.  Fedor Tyutin is the only active NHL player involved in this trade and the Russian currently plays with the Blue Jackets.  It is reported that Columbus is actively looking to move the 32 year old before the deadline, which is a storyline to watch and could add another layer to this historic trade.

Blue Jackets History: Throwback Thursday 2003 Draft
Sep 24, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing David Clarkson (23) receives a game misconduct for a hit on Minnesota Wild right wing Justin Fontaine (not pictured) in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

Nathan Horton was drafted third overall by the Florida Panthers.  Later in his career the winger was traded to Boston where he won two Stanley Cups.  The Blue Jackets signed Horton as a UFA in 2013 to a seven year contract.  In Horton’s first season with the Blue Jackets, he was held out with a tragic degenerative back disorder that has kept him off the ice.  The Blue Jackets organization did not insure the contract in the event of an injury to the talented winger, which proved to weigh heavily on the team’s financial flexibility.  When the severity of the injury was made public, it came into doubt that Horton would ever be capable of  playing hockey again.  In 2014 Horton was traded to Toronto in a contract swap for the underperforming David Clarkson.  David Clarkson remains with the Blue Jackets and has yet to make a significant impact for the club.

Jeff Carter was drafted 11th overall by the Philadelphia flyers and was having successful career with the team.  In 2011 the Blue Jackets made a bold move for the winger by sending their 2007 seventh overall pick, Jakub Voracek, to Philly, along with their 1st round pick in 2011 and a third round pick in 2011.  It is important to mention that the 1st round pick later become Sean Couturier.  It became clear that Jeff Carter was not happy in Columbus and quickly saw himself out the door via a trade with Los Angeles.  The trade saw Jack Johnson and a conditional first round pick make their way to Columbus.  Jack Johnson is currently playing on the Blue Jackets second defensive pairing and has found success in Columbus since his arrival.  The conditional first round pick became Marko Dano, who was traded this past offseason in a package deal for the team’s current leading scorer and all-star, Brandon Saad.  Murmurs out of Columbus are pointing towards a potential Jack Johnson trade in upcoming months which would continue the Jeff Carter trade lineage.

Blue Jackets History: Throwback Thursday 2003 Draft
uJan 30, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Metropolitan Division forward Brandon Saad (20) of the Columbus Blue Jackets races Central Division forward Matt Duchene (9) of the Colorado Avalanche during the 2016 NHL All Star Game Skills Competition at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The fourth round saw the Blue Jackets draft the French Canadian center, Philippe Dupuis.  Dupuis saw limited action for the Blue Jackets and was traded in 2008 to the Colorado Avalanche for Mark Rycroft.  Rycroft never saw playing time with the Blue Jackets.

As for our final player of interest today, the Blue Jackets selected Marc Methot in the sixth round of the 2003 draft.  The steady defenseman proved to be a trusted option in Columbus.  In 2012 Methot was traded to Ottawa for the team’s current captain, Nick Foligno.

Next: Blue Jackets Review: Goaltending Depth

While the Blue Jackets only selected four players in the 2003 draft who actually saw NHL playing time, the draft has molded the team’s history.  A review of the signings, forced trades and draft successes/failures is an eye opening experience for the team’s fans.  If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. A common issue has been scouting and asset management; so lets hope our Blue Jackets have learned from their past.