Columbus Blue Jackets 2024 draft pick Tanner Henricks has riser potential

The Blue Jackets dipped back into the well for big defensemen in the fourth round, nabbing California native Tanner Henricks.
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The Blue Jackets continued their run on defensemen at the 2024 NHL Draft, taking St Cloud State University commit Tanner Henricks with their fourth round pick (#101 overall).

Henricks became the third right-hand shot defenseman taken by the Jackets in the draft. Like the two ahead of him, he brings size (6'4", 205 pounds), and higher end skating ability.

But, at this point, it seems like Henricks is a long way from the NHL. Touted as an offensive defenseman; he struggled in the USHL this season, scoring only 9 points (all assists) in 59 games for the Lincoln Stars.

The good news is, the tools are mostly here. Henricks is an active attacker in the offensive zone, often choosing to jump into plays along the boards and find open space for himself.

He has good timing and a knack for understanding where he needs to be to make the most of his opportunities. Combined with his skating ability, it sure seems like this is a guy with the potential to put up points wherever he goes.

I'm willing to chalk one season of struggles up to factors outside of his control. Maybe it's a systems issue, or perhaps he just didn't get the right opportunities to succeed. But, he'll need to step his game up for St Cloud State and show that he can produce like he did as a 16 year old at California's AAA level.

Defensively, Henricks uses his frame effectively to block shots and break up plays. He has a long reach and uses the poke/stick check well. His skating will always be helpful here as well. You can never have too many 6'4" guys that can skate. They can always be taught how to defend.

This pick felt like more of a reach for the Blue Jackets than each of the four players they took earler in the draft. But, I don't think it's poor value. They're banking on his offensive game coming around at the NCAA level. Which is entirely possible.

Henricks has the tools you look for in a mid-round project, he just needs to start putting everything together. If he can do that, he could be found money for the organization. Still, at his top end, I think he's a third pairing/depth defenseman at the NHL level.

But, even if he doesn't put it all together, I can see him being a useful minor league player. He'll get plenty of opportunities because of his skating and puck moving abilities. It's up to him to take advantage of those opportunities.