Having traded their own fifth round pick (#130 overall), the Jackets did not select until pick #156 in that round. They used the selection to nab lanky goaltender Melvin Strahl, adding much needed depth to the crease in their prospect system.
The Jackets used the pick acquired in the Gustav Nyquist trade to pick the big Swedish goaltender. Strahl plays for the storied MoDo program, spending most of last season with their J-20 team. He posted a save percentage of .883 and a goals against average of 3.35 in 23 games played at that level, holding a 10-12-0 record in that time.
Melvin Strahl, 6’3″, 165 pounds
MoDo J20 (Sweden)
5th round (#156 overall)
Playstyle comparisons: ???
NHL upside: ???
Professional ETA (North America): ???
— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) July 2, 2023
If that seems like a lot of question marks, well, it is. I have to be honest, I don’t have much info on this player – he wasn’t ranked by NHL’s Central Scouting, and in fact, it’s really hard to find him on any draft rankings unless you really go digging. And, it’s hard (near impossible) to catch junior games out of Sweden.
So, all we’re left to go on here is what we’ve heard over the last week or so. Strahl has a big frame that he needs to fill out, and the Jackets are banking projections on him developing into an NHL goaltender. Part of this is because they’ve seen him work up close, and know firsthand that he has a big desire to improve and a competitive nature.
“You could feel how happy he was with his family. He was speechless. It’s a great moment.”
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) June 30, 2023
This was all confirmed by new goaltending coach Niklas Backstrom on the team’s live coverage of the NHL Draft. Strahl did make the trip to development camp and has spent the last few days in on-ice sessions with the team. Unfortunately, yours truly did not make it to development camp, so I was unable to get any viewings of him there either.
We talked leading up to the draft about the Jackets having a big need for goaltending prospects, and they add one here. It’s not one of the guys we expected to see them take a shot on, but this pick definitely adds to their depth in the position. We’ll have to keep a close eye on Melvin’s development moving forward.