The Blue Jackets picked Nikita Filatov sixth overall in 2008
We’re just two days away from the 2022 NHL Draft, which looks to be the jumping off point for a potentially crazy offseason. With two high picks (#6, #12 overall), the Blue Jackets will come in with a chance to add two more potential core players to their young team; following up a very successful 2021 Draft. Today we’ll look at the way these picks may break down, should the team use the picks they currently have at their disposal.
I don’t think there’s any doubt who the top three picks will be at Thursday’s draft. It will be Shane Wright, Juraj Slavkovsky, and Logan Cooley – the only thing we don’t know is, in which order or to whom. After the top three, there’s a pretty clear “second tier” in my opinion, that includes Simon Nemec, David Jiricek, and the rising Cutter Gauthier. I think Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis will strut to the stage to draft Nemec. One year removed from drafting their future franchise center (Matty Beniers); Francis takes a player who could anchor their defense corps for the next decade.
After Seattle’s pick, things aren’t so clear. Philadelphia sits with pick #5, but rumors have them possibly shopping that pick for immediate help. Should the Flyers make this pick, I fully expect them to be the team that takes Gauthier off the board. They have a relatively young defense corps with some good upside, and will add a player that can play either center or the wing. Gauthier brings size, skill, and he can skate. While he doesn’t hold the same upside that you might get out of the top-three picks in this draft, he has the potential to be a top-two line player in the NHL.
If the draft shakes down like this, Columbus would see David Jiricek fall into their laps at sixth overall. Jiricek has a big frame, at 6-3 and 190 pounds; he plays a physical style and has a booming shot, but is also a responsible defender who can skate really well. Nemec may have more offensive upside, but Jiricek is arguably the best two-way defender in the draft, and could slot onto the top pairing with Zach Werenski for years to come.
While it’s impossible to know how things will shake down – especially if someone like Philadelphia trade their pick – it’s exciting to think that we’ll land one of the prospects I mentioned above at sixth overall. Whether it’s Jiricek, Gauthier, or someone Jarmo Kekalainen and his staff deem higher on their list, the Blue Jackets will add another exciting prospect to an already impressive pool.