BLUE JACKETS SIGN 2004 FIRST ROUND PICK ALEXANDRE PICARD AND 2005 FIFTH ROUND PICK TOMAS POPPERLE
/ Columbus Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have signed right wing Alexandre Picard, the club's first pick in the 2004 Entry Draft, and goaltender Tomas Popperle, the club's fifth round selection in the 2005 Entry Draft, to three-year contracts, Blue Jackets President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced today. As is club policy, terms were not disclosed.
Picard, 19, ranked among the top scorers in the Canadian Hockey League last season with 40 goals and 45 assists for 85 points with 160 penalty minutes, a +20 plus/minus rating, six game-winning goals, and six shorthanded goals in 65 games with Lewiston of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His six shorthanded goals were second in the CHL to 2005 first overall pick Sidney Crosby's seven, while his 40 goals ranked 13th and 85 points ranked 21st.
"Alexandre Picard has established himself as one of the most dangerous goal scorers in Junior Hockey," said MacLean. "He's a natural goal scorer who plays hard, crashes the net and has a physical edge. He's a big part of our future and we think he has a chance to make an impact on our team as early as this season."
The 6'2", 190-pound native of Les Saules, Quebec, was the third-ranked North American skater in the 2004 NHL Central Scouting final draft rankings. He was selected by the Blue Jackets with the eighth overall pick at the NHL Entry Draft in Raleigh, Carolina. In 206 career QMJHL games, Picard registered 93-104-197 and 289 penalty minutes, twice finishing among the league's top-10 in goals. He participated in the 2004 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and also represented Team QMJHL in both the 2003 and 2004 Canada/Russia Challenge.
Popperle, 20, was selected by the Blue Jackets in the fifth round of this summer's NHL Entry Draft held in Ottawa on July 30. In his first full season up from the Junior League, he established himself as one of the top goaltenders in the Czech Extraliga, posting a 15-9-1 record with a 1.58 goals against average and a .949 save percentage in 25 games for Sparta, the same Czech program which produced David Vyborny. The 6'1", 187-pound native of Broumov, Czech Republic, led the league in goals against average and save percentage, while ranking sixth in shutouts. Over the past three season, he has also appeared in 58 games for Sparta-Jr of Czech Junior League and 21 games for Berounsti in the Czech-1 League.
The Blue Jackets are scheduled to open their fifth training camp on Tuesday, September 13, with an open practice session and scrimmage at Nationwide Arena. The event is free and open to all fans and will begin at 6 p.m. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and fans should enter through the Front Street entrance, next to The Blueline Team Store. Columbus opens its preseason schedule on Sunday, September 18, vs. the Buffalo Sabres. Game time is 5 p.m.
Tickets for Blue Jackets pre-season games are currently on sale, while regular season games go on sale Friday, September 16. Tickets may be purchased at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, the Blue Jackets Zones at Chiller Dublin, Chiller Easton and Chiller North, all Ticketmaster ticket centers, by phone at (614) 431-3600 or via the internet at www.BlueJackets.com and ticketmaster.com. For information on full season tickets starting as low as $13 per game, mini-season ticket plans or group tickets, call (800) NHL-COLS.