The Columbus Blue Jackets have a strong crop of defensemen brewing with Springfield Falcons in the AHL. John Moore leads a group of four, young defenders that will compete for openings during training camp. Nick Holden, 24, is the most mature and ready to come up from Springfield, but greater hopes are placed on David Savard and Cody Goloubef. With immediate help coming in the form of defensemen and grinding wingers like Matt Calvert, Tom Sestito, and Tomas Kubalik, the most pressing need for the Blue Jackets is skilled pivots.
Columbus addressed that need last year as their top prospect, Ryan Johansen, was the 4th overall pick in the 2010 Draft. Johansen impressed scouts with his performance for Canada in the World Junior Championship and continued demonstrating why Columbus expect him to be a NHLer next season, with 28 points in 21 playoff games for the Portland Winter Hawks.
With Johansen expected to join the pro-circuit next season, the best-player-available strategy should be used by GM Scott Howson.
Seeing the breakout Strome drop to the 8th spot fills the long-term depth at Center.
Right from the drop of the puck Strome came out on fire, scoring three goals and six assists in the first four games. From then on, Strome rose on the ISS rankings each month. The former lacrosse player needs to fill out his frame and continue to work hard in one-on-one puck battles to take the next step. While Strome is the easy choice there are a couple other possibilities.
Another possibility for Columbus is Sven Bartschi, the talented Swiss winger and Johansen’s teammate. Portland would be thick with Columbus scouts watching Johansen anyway, and that one dude wearing a suit and sitting in the corner of the lower bowl, would have watched Bartschi outscore fellow Swiss national and 5th overall pick in last year’s draft, Nino Niederreiter. Bartschi could be a strong possibility, but overall, best-player-available, not too-many-eggs-in-one-basket type move, Strome fills the prospect gap behind Johansen. Especially if you think that Filiatov can’t play in the NHL.
An Ohio moment could come at the podium in the Xcel Center if Columbus drafts Cincinnati-born Tyler Biggs. Biggs plays for the NTDP and is headed to Miami University in Oxford, OH in the fall. He’s grown a reputation for being a real tough player to skate against. But, I would imagine Columbus would be trading down if they were to draft Biggs. Biggs, ranked 8th in the ISS, saw his stock drop after a quiet spring, and there are doubts about Biggs’ scoring potential.