This year’s 2007 NHL draft was different in two ways for the Columbus Blue Jackets – it was hosted locally in Columbus and it was Scott Howson’s first draft as the GM Blue Jackets. Going into this year’s draft, it was expected that the Blue Jackets would do something to create some fireworks to keep the fans at home engaged. But, that didn’t really happen.
It is doubtful that Howson had much input into this year’s selection process because he was named GM so close to the beginning of the draft. If you listened to what Doug Maclean said on TSN and read between the lines, many of the decisions were already made and directed by Don Boyd, the CBJ Director of player personnel. Understandably, Howson might have preferred to better understand the lay of the land before taking any risks.
Here’s an overview of the players the CBJ picked up:
Jakub Voracek (seventh pick overall) – This pick was surprising; Maclean claimed during the TSN broadcast that the CBJ didn’t expect Voracek to be available by the time they picked seventh. Even so, the better choice might have been Angelo Esposito, while the safe picks were probably either Keaton Ellerby or Ryan McDonagh, two of the best defensemen available. The Blue Jackets need defense and with some of their recent injuries, it was odd that they didn’t pick up a blue-liner.
The report on Voracek is pretty favorable, as he was ranked sixth by Central Scouting. He played last year for the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL and scored 23 goals with 63 assists in 59 games last season. He is just 17-years-old and his birthday is in August. He hails from Kladno in the Czech Republic and he played for the Czech Republic in the 2007 World Junior Championships.
Voracek is said to be talented at both ends and is a solid threat with good vision and playmaking ability. Many have described him as playing a North American style game. He is said to possess a strong work ethic and has shown good traits to indicate potential future leadership. The biggest knock on Voracek is that he will not put up big scoring numbers. He claimed in his post-draft interview that he was ready to take the next step and contend for a place in the lineup this season, but it may be better to let him mature a year or two before bringing him up.
Stefan Legein (37th pick overall) – Legein is said to be a talented forward with good skills at both ends. He is not afraid to take the body and hit hard and he has a fast skating style and also a very accurate shot. He plays the role of agitator; thus, he will rack up a lot of penalty minutes. In order to be successful in the NHL, Legein will need to bulk up. The velocity and power of his shot needs some improvement.
Will Weber (53rd pick overall) – Not much info concerning Weber is available. He was the number one pick in the USHL draft and will play for the Chicago Steel next season. He is a defenseman that played for Gaylord High School in Traverse City, Michigan.
Jake Hansen (68th pick overall) – Hansen is a 6’, 168 pound winger who played for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the USHL last season. He is said to be a bruiser of a defensive player with a lot of grit.
Maxim Mayorov (94th pick overall) – Mayorov is a big power forward and a strong skater with an explosive first stride. He has good puck handling skills and is able to take punishment in front of the net. He has good size and should be a formidable presence on the ice. Mayorov played for both Team Russia and Leninogorsk in the Russian-2 League last season.
Allen York (158th pick overall) – Goaltender York played last year at Camrose in the AJHL and also played in the AJHL 2007 top prospects game. He put up pretty good numbers last season and is said to have strong potential and an excellent feel for stopping the puck.
Trent Vogelhuber (211th pick overall) – In what has to be the biggest surprise for the CBJ, they picked a hometown player from right here in Columbus (Dublin) Ohio. He played high school hockey at St. Charles High School and is headed to Miami University (Ohio) in the CCHA to play his college hockey. He is sure to become a fan favorite if and when it makes it to the big show. He is the first hockey player that hails from Central Ohio to be drafted by an NHL team.
In summary, the draft for the Blue Jackets was a mixed bag. It was surprising to see them opt for offensive-minded picks rather than focus on defense. With the top pick of Voracek, they were looking for someone with a two-way game that can step into the lineup right away. Many say he has leadership qualities and he can pass the puck, which should be good news for Rick Nash.
CBJ fans could end up being disappointed in that help on the blue line wasn’t the first priority. Last season, there were many injuries to the defensive corps, and when you have a superstar like Adam Foote, who can help teach and bring along a new young rookie, you need to take advantage of it. As for the rest of the picks, it’s difficult to analyze for now. Beyond the top guys in the first round, you can only go by what you’ve read and seen about these picks.
The selection of Trent Vogelhuber looks to be a smart one; giving a local youngster a chance could have a lot of upside. If he makes the team, it would be one of the best “feel good” stories around. The future is uncertain, but as for now, each of the draftees expressed great joy in their post-draft interview. From the latest account, the Blue Jackets are in no hurry to get most of them in the lineup right away; it will be a few years before it is known how well these picks pan out.
Most fans were surprised that the CBJ didn’t create more fireworks or make more moves to keep up the interest, but with a new GM, it should have been expected. Let’s hope that the CBJ will be active in the free agency market and pick up a few supporting players to help the team improve this season; nobody wants a repeat of last season where they were out of the playoff picture before Christmas.