CBJ.com: The Blue Jackets picked defensemen with their second and third round picks. Please talk a little about Adam McQuaid and Kris Russell.
Strumm: I think they are opposites as far as defensemen go. McQuaid is big, defensive guy with a right hand shot -- which we need. He has a knack for putting the puck on his own teammates stick instead of somebody else’s. Russell is a very quick, electric type of offensive defenseman. He had 26 goals as a draftee which is an unbelievable number of goals for a young defenseman. I think he’s a potential power-play, puck mover down the road. They both need more time to develop, but I think they can make an impact on the organization within three to five years. Maybe get a chance a little sooner to play up here as a call up.
CBJ.com: The team selected Thomas Popperle, an over-age Czech goalie in the fifth round. What are the chances that he comes to North America this year? Can he contribute at the NHL level this year?
Strumm: I think he’s prepared to come over, it’s just weather we want to sign him into our system now or leave him there in the Czech Extraliga at only 21-years-old. He has great stats with a 1.58 goals-against, a 94.9 save percentage and four shutouts. He’s got good size, good quickness and a great glove hand. A little bit of an unorthodox style, but the same was said about (Dominik) Hasek, (Tomas) Vokoun, (Roman) Cechmanek. As long as he stops the puck, you don’t worry about it. He’s certainly a player for the future in Columbus.
CBJ.com: The team recently signed a pair of 2003 Draftees, Marc Methot & Philippe Dupuis. Please talk about what those two bring to the organization.
Strumm: Marc is a big strong defensemen. Realistically, he probably needs a year or so of development under Gary Agnew in Syracuse. He will probably challenge for a job on the big team a year from now. He might be able to serve as an injury call up this year, though.Dupuis is a real skill guy, but needs to improve his skating. He finished in the top ten of the QMJHL scoring race and any time you have a guy with that kind of production you need to give him a chance to move up.
CBJ.com: We've heard a lot about Joakim Lindstrom since he was drafted in 2002. Is he ready to vie for roster spot this year?
Strumm: No question he’s ready for a job. He’s a big, strong, quick European forward that plays a lot like a North American. He’s going to challenge for a roster spot for sure. He’s an exciting player.
CBJ.com: Please update us on several guys drafted last year:
Alexandre Picard – "He is going to challenge for a job on the big team. He’s another very competitive, very hard working player with a good skill set. If you’re going to play in the National Hockey League, you have to compete. And he does."Adam Pineault – "Adam will play another year of major junior, I think. Moncton is going to host the Memorial Cup this year which is a great opportunity to put him in some pressure situations. He’s a power guy, very strong with a great shot. I think he’s a NHL power forward for sure."Kyle Wharton - "Wharton has all the tools, it’s just a matter of him peaking with his game. Sometimes he tries to do too much or lacks confidence in getting things done, but he's a tremendous prospect."
CBJ.com: What kind of impact do you expect Adam Foote to have on the team?
Strumm: Foote’s endorsement on the Columbus Blue Jackets is like the Golden Housekeeping Seal. This guy is a very well respected player. He’s played in the Olympics, the World Cup, the Stanley Cup. He’s just a tremendously respected guy. It presents a new challenge for him to do in Columbus what he did in Quebec and Colorado. I think he’s the best defensive defenseman in the NHL. He is a big time signing for Columbus.
CBJ.com: How about Bryan Berard?
Strumm: Berard is at the opposite end of the spectrum for us. No question, Berard is the best power-play guy available. He gets the puck up the ice and makes it happen on the power play. He’s a former 1st pick overall and rookie of the year. He’s an exciting player, he’ll bring the people out of their seats in Nationwide Arena for sure.
CBJ.com: What can the fans expect from this year’s team?
Strumm: I think we’re going to have one of the most -- if not the most -- exciting teams in the National Hockey League. We’ve already got Zherdev and Nash and Vyborny and some of the other names that the fans are already familiar with. Then you throw in Brule and Picard and Berard and Adam Foote -- who is one of the greatest warriors n the game today. Radoslav Suchy, a kid we added last summer from Phoenix who the fans haven’t seen yet, is a good solid defensive guy. Marc Denis is anxious to get back and prove that he’s the kind of guy that can take us to the promise land. I think we’re respected in Columbus and as one of the teams of the future and it’ll be interesting to see how quickly these guys can turn that into points in the standings.