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A trip down memory lane among Blue Jackets drafts

From surprises to standouts, a look back at the best of CBJ picks

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

When the NHL draft takes place this weekend, Columbus will take another step toward fortifying their future by adding the newest Blue Jackets to the fold. 

How many remains to be seen, with Columbus currently holding just two picks in the seven rounds, which -- not surprisingly -- would be a franchise low. 

So with the Jackets not slated to pick until the third round (choice No. 81, to be exact) and then not until the seventh, we decided to take a trip down memory lane.  

Here's a look back at some notable draft facts when it comes to the Blue Jackets.  

Notes to know 

Columbus has picked 159 players in its draft history, going back to when the Blue Jackets made their first-ever draft pick, Czech defenseman Rostislav Klesla with the fourth overall pick in the 2000 draft. Of those, 70 have skated in at least one NHL regular-season game, or 44.0 percent (D Vladislav Gavrikov has played in two playoff games for the team). Of course, that stat is a bit skewed as some of the draft picks in the past couple of years will soon make their debuts for the team.  

In the net (trivia question) 

Can you name the eight CBJ-drafted goalies to play in at least one NHL game? That's a tough one, so think about it for a second. We'll give you the answer below. 

Drafts to remember 

1. 2015 is a great one as far as recent vintages. The draft has already produced Zach Werenski and Markus Nutivaara as building blocks for the CBJ future, and Vladislav Gavrikov figures to join those two as an NHL regular this upcoming season. Forward Kevin Stenlund and defenseman Gabriel Carlsson also were chosen that year and could see time in the near future.  

2. Two CBJ drafts have tied for the most NHL players produced -- 2008 and 2002. The '08 draft was highlighted by the picks of Matt Calvert (fourth round) and Cam Atkinson (sixth round) in the later rounds, making up for the star-crossed career of first-round pick Nikita Filatov. In '02, No. 1 overall pick Rick Nash led the way, but while six other players would see NHL action, the most games were played by third-round pick Ole-Kristian Tollefson (163).  

3. 2012 was pretty good, too, as the Jackets nabbed Ryan Murray second overall and got Josh Anderson in round four, a solid haul. Joonas Korpisalo also was a third-round pick that year.  

Names you've forgotten 

1. Tim Jackman played 12 NHL seasons for six different teams, but just one of them came with the Blue Jackets. The 2001 second-round pick made his debut in 2003-04 and played 19 games with Columbus, but the Blue Jackets traded him to Arizona before the start of the 2005 season along with Geoff Sanderson for a package that included Jason Chimera. He'd go on to play 483 NHL games, 15th most of any CBJ draft pick. 

2. Trevor Hendrikx owns a record that likely won't ever be matched by a Blue Jackets draftee. He's the only player to be drafted twice by Columbus, as the Jackets took the Peterborough defenseman in both 2003 and 2005 when he re-entered the draft. Unfortunately, Hendrikx played just four games at the AHL level and zero in the NHL.  

3. Grant Clitsome -- the man, the myth, the legend -- was the last ninth-round pick of the Blue Jackets to make his debut, as he was picked in 2004 and made his NHL debut in the 2009-10 season. He'll forever be the last ninth-round pick to debut, too, as the league shortened the draft to seven rounds a year later. The Clarkson alum played in parts of six years with the Jackets and Winnipeg, posting a 15-56-71 line in 205 games.  

Three great picks

1. Cam Atkinson: Rarely do you pick a franchise cornerstone and multiple-time All-Star in the sixth round, but that's what the Blue Jackets got when they tabbed the diminutive goal-scoring winger in 2008. Since making his debut, all Atkinson has done is move into second place in CBJ annals with 186 goals and 342 points. 

2. Marc Methot: Among CBJ draft picks, four of the top five in NHL games played were first-rounders (Rick Nash, Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard and Rostislav Klesla). No. 3 on the list is 2005 third-round pick Kris Russell, who has built quite a career for himself. But sixth on the list is a sixth-round pick, and that's Methot, who was chosen in 2003. He has played 642 NHL games, 275 of those with the Blue Jackets. Methot then was dealt to Ottawa for Nick Foligno. Not a bad use of a selection. 

3. Pierre-Luc Dubois: At the time, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was questioned -- in what many viewed as a draft led by three players at the top, Kekalainen went outside the box with the third overall pick and took Dubois over Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi. It's worked, though, as Dubois has played every game the past two years, had 27 goals and 61 points in 2018-19, and looks to be a No. 1 center going forward. Puljujarvi, meanwhile, has 37 points in parts of three seasons in Edmonton. 

In the net (trivia answer) 

The eight CBJ-drafted goalies to make it to the NHL are Pascal Leclaire (2001), Dan LaCosta (2004), Tomas Popperle (2005), Steve Mason (2006), Allen York (2007), Anton Forsberg (2011), Joonas Korpisalo (2012) and Oscar Dansk (2012). That number figures to increase to nine this year when Elvis Merzlikins, who has signed a contract with the Jackets for 2019, makes his debut.  

For the record, the Blue Jackets have drafted seven goalies who haven't played in the NHL, though four -- Merzlikins, Peter Thome (2016), Daniil Tarasov (2017) and Veini Vehvilainen (2018) -- remain in the CBJ pipeline. The other three are Shane Bendera (2000), Mathieu Corbeil (2010) and Martin Ouellette (2010).  

Ohio, hi-o 

The Blue Jackets have drafted three players from the state of Ohio since the franchise's inception. One is still in the system in the person of Carson Meyer, the 2017 sixth-round pick who grew up in Powell, started his college career at Miami (Ohio) and last year was on the Big Ten champion Ohio State squad. 

The others, of course, are Dan Fritsche and Trent Vogelhuber. Fritsche, a Parma, Ohio, native, was taken in the second round of the 2003 draft and made his NHL debut at age 18 that fall. He went on to play four seasons with the Jackets, posting a 29-34-63 line in 206 games before finishing his NHL career with cameos with the New York Rangers and Minnesota.  

Vogelhuber, meanwhile, was the first-ever CBJ draft pick to hail from the Columbus area, and in fact the first-ever central Ohioan drafted since the establishment of the Jackets. The 2007 seventh-round pick from Dublin never made it to the NHL but had a solid minor league career and now serves as an assistant coach with AHL Cleveland. 

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