The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up the 2014 National Hockey League Draft by selecting six players during rounds two through seven at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, including United States National Development Program defenseman Ryan Collins with the 47th overall pick, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. During the two-day draft, Columbus selected three forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.
Collins is a 6-5, 202-pound native of Bloomington, Minnesota who collected four goals and 10 assists for 14 points with 40 penalty minutes in 107 games over the past two seasons with the USNDP. He tallied 1-6-7 in 59 games this past season, including 0-2-2 in seven games to help Team USA win gold at the 2014 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He is expected to attend the University of Minnesota this fall.
In the third round, Columbus traded its pick (No. 63) to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2014 third round pick (No. 76) and a third round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. With the 76th pick, the club selected goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. The 6-3, 187-pound netminder posted a 2.13 goals-against average, .925 save=percentage and one shutout in 22 games with Lugano (Switzerland) in 2013-14. A native of Riga, Latvia, he also represented his country at the 2014 World Under-20 Championships (Div. 1A) and the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships. One pick later, at No. 77, the Jackets selected Niagara (Ontario Hockey League) defenseman Blake Siebenaler. The 6-0, 192-pound native of Toledo, Ohio registered 6-24-30 and 24 PIM in 68 games in 2013-14 and added 1-4-5 in seven J. Ross Robertson Cup Playoff contests.
Columbus used its lone pick of the fourth round, No. 107 overall, to select 5-11, 177-pound left winger Julien Pelletier. A native of Buckingham, Quebec, Pelletier tallied 25-25-50 in 67 games played with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) during the 2013-14 campaign. With their fifth round pick, No. 137 overall, the Blue Jackets selected forward Tyler Bird. The Boston, Massachusetts native tallied 33-27-60 in 37 games played for Kimball Union (NH) Academy last season. The 6-2, 202-pound left winger will attend Brown University (ECAC) in the fall.
With its final pick of the draft, Columbus selected defenseman Olivier LeBlanc of the Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) in the seventh round, 197th overall. The 6-0, 157-pound native of Quebec City, Quebec has registered 11-40-51 and 99 PIM in 116 QMJHL games the past two seasons. In 2013-14, he recorded 7-26-33 and 58 PIM in 56 contests.