SUNRISE, FLORIDA - The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up the 2015 National Hockey League Draft by selecting seven players during rounds two through seven at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. During the two-day draft, the Jackets selected three forwards and six defensemen.
Columbus held two second round picks and selected Portland Winterhawks left wing Paul Bittner with the 38th overall selection. Bittner, 18, tallied 34 goals and 37 assists for 71 points with 52 penalty minutes and a +39 plus/minus rating in 66 games with Portland of the Western Hockey League in 2014-15. The 6-4, 204 pound winger finished third on the club in goals and plus/minus and fourth in assists and points. The Crookston, Minnesota native has recorded 68-75-143 with 91 penalty minutes and +72 in 174 career games with Portland from 2012-15.
With the 58th overall pick, the club selected HV 71 Jr. center Kevin Stenlund. The 18-year-old registered 14-22-36 with 16 penalty minutes in 36 games and served as club captain of HV 71 Jr. in Sweden last season. He also added 1-0-1 with two penalty minutes in 17 games with HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League. A native of Huddinge, Sweden, the 6-3, 205 pound center has registered 18-27-45 with 32 penalty minutes and a +10 plus/minus rating in 65 career games with HV 71 Jr.
In the third round, Columbus selected Seattle Thunderbirds right wing Keegan Kolesar, 18, with the 69th overall selection. The 6-1, 217 pound winger notched 19-19-38 and 85 penalty minutes in 64 games with Seattle (WHL) in 2014-15. The Brandon, Manitoba native has registered 21-25-46 with 130 penalty minutes in 125 career games with the Thunderbirds from 2012-15.
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The Blue Jackets used their first fifth round selection, 129th overall, to select Prince George Cougars defenseman Sam Ruopp. The 6-4, 179 pounder recorded 3-23-26 with 140 penalty minutes and +3 in 64 games while serving as team captain for Prince George (WHL) this past season. A native of Regina, Saskatchewan, he has posted 8-34-42 and 195 penalty minutes in 134 career games with Prince George.
Columbus selected Blues Jr. defenseman Veeti Vainio, 18, with its second fifth round selection, 141st overall. The Espoo, Finland native registered 13-31-44 with 42 penalty minutes in 42 games with Blues Jr. in Finland’s Jr. League during the 2014-15 campaign. The 6-2, 169 pound defenseman has tallied 22-45-67 with 88 penalty minutes and a +43 plus/minus rating in 77 career games with the club.
The Blue Jackets used their sixth round pick, 159th overall, to select Yaroslavl defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. The 6-2, 205 pounder posted 0-1-1 with four penalty minutes and a +3 plus/minus rating in 16 games with Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2014-15. He added 1-2-3 with four penalty minutes in 11 games with HK Ryazan (VHL) and 1-6-7 and 16 penalty minutes in 16 games with Loko Yarosavl (MHL). A native of Yaroslavl, Russia, Gavrikov has tallied 8-19-27 and 66 penalty minutes in 116 career games with Loko Yaroslavl (MHL).
With its final pick of the draft, Columbus selected Karpat (Liiga) defenseman Markus Nutivaara in the seventh round, 189th overall. The 6-0, 174 pound native of Oulu, Finland registered 0-2-2 with four penalty minutes in 35 games with Karpat in 2014-15. He added 2-6-8 in seven games with Karpat Jr. and has posted 8-26-34 with 24 penalty minutes in 68 career games in the Finnish Jr. league with Pelicans Jr. and Karpat Jr.
Blue Jackets Draft Recap: Rd 1 (8) – Zach Werenski, D (University of Michigan/Big Ten)… Rd. 1 (29*) – Gabriel Carlsson, D (Linkoping JR/Sweden JR)… Rd 2 (38) – Paul Bittner, LW (Portland/WHL), Rd 2 (58) – Kevin Stenlund, C (HV 71 JR/Sweden JR)… Rd 3 (69) – Keegan Kolesar, RW (Seattle/WHL)… Rd 5 (129) – Sam Ruopp, D (Prince George/WHL)… Rd 5 (141) – Veeti Vainio, D (Blues JR/Finland JR)… Rd 6 (159) – Vladislav Gavrikov, D (Yaroslavl, Russia)… Rd 7 (189) – Markus Nutivaara, D (Karpat, Finland).
*acquired from Toronto