Columbus Blue Jackets draft candidate at fourth overall, Sam Dickinson is a toolsy defenseman who can skate

if the Blue Jackets decide to draft a defenseman with their first round pick this month, Sam Dickinson has the tools to be a real good one.
2024 Memorial Cup - Final
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The 2024 NHL Draft is becoming known as "the year of the defenseman". There are about a half dozen quality blue liners ranked inside the top-8 or 10 of this year's class. When teams step up to the podium to make their picks, it may ultimately come down to which style they prefer.

In the case of London Knights defenseman Sam Dickinson, you're getting a player who can do it all. The only question I have here is, does his upside make him worth picking fourth overall?

What I mean here is, he's probably only the second (or even third) best all-around defenseman in the entire draft. Artyom Levshunov is in a class of his own. Zeev Buium is a sublime two-way player in his own right. Dickinson has a lot of similar tools to these two, but he's just a notch below both of them in my opinion.

He also doesn't have the elite offensive potential of someone like Zayne Parekh. He doesn't have the same kind of defensive potential (or quite as much size) as Anton Silayev. For these reasons, he could be taken after all of these guys in the draft order. But, he's still a near-lock to be a top-10 pick, and I think whatever team lands him, will be ecstatic to get him.

Think of it like this: Levshunov and Buium could be top pairing two-way defensemen in the NHL. Parekh could be a top pairing offensive guy. Silayev, a top pairing defensive guy. I see Dickinson as more of a second pairing two-way guy. A support guy, if you will. He won't be the anchor of your defense corps, but he also won't hurt you in any situation.

Dickinson is a great skater who is really difficult to beat off the rush. He uses his size to play physically; and his stick to take away time and space with the puck. In-zone, he loves to be physical in the corners and net-front; and overall, I think he's close enough to NHL ready here.

Offensively, he can join the rush and be a threat in a variety of ways. He's a really good passer - evidenced by his finishing tied for 4th amongst all OHL defenders in assists (52); and he can shoot. He has a booming, heavy shot from the point, which he used to torch the opposition for 18 goals in 70 games this season.

But. whether he's passing or shooting; where he really makes a difference offensively is the same way he does it defensively: his skating. Dickinson is an active player who moves around to try and find space, making himself an option at all times in the offensive zone.

With all of that said, he's not a perfect prospect. If he was, he would be in the first overall consideration. So, what are the drawbacks, and how far away is he? Let's take a look.