At the 2015 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets came ahead with a total of nine new prospects, a list that includes six defensemen and three forwards. Of those nine, three are from Sweden, two from the United States, two from Canada, two from Finland and two from Russia.
Let’s do a quick recap of the newest players to sport the Blue Jackets sweater.
Ready? Here we go…
Round 1 - No. 8 overall - Zach Werenski, D, University of Michigan
Round 1 - No. 29 overall – Gabriel Carlsson, D, Linkoping (Sweden)
Round 2 – No. 38 overall – Paul Bittner, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Round 2 – No. 58 overall – Kevin Stenlund, C, HV71 (Sweden)
A native of Huddinge, Sweden, Stenlund played 36 games for HV 71 Jr. in Sweden last year and served as team captain. He notched 14 goals and tallied 22 assists for a total of 36 points. He also played 17 games with HV 71 in the Swedish Hockey League.
Additionally, he represented Sweden (U20) in the Five Nations Tournament in Gothenburg, where he laced up for a total of four games. Stenlund has registered 18-27-45 with 32 penalty minutes and a +10 plus/minus rating in 65 career games with HV 71 Jr.
The 18-year-old was ranked No. 21 among European-born skaters on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings.
Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects had this to say about Stenlund: “An intelligent, big-bodied center with superb puck-handling ability. His greatest asset is his mature mindset: he thinks the game at a high level. Plays a simplified, complete game and doesn't make low-percentage plays. Uses his edges well at a level that suits his style of play - physical and hard to play against; that being said, there is still room for improvement in his skating and first three strides. Protects the puck well.”
Round 3 – No. 69 overall – Keegan Kolesar, RW, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
Kolesar is a big, strong, right winger from Brandon, Manitoba. At 6-foot-1, the 217-pound forward is a solid two-way skater and plays a physical, energetic style. NHL Central Scouting ranked him No. 65 amongst North American skaters.
During the 2014-15 season, he played 64 games with the Thunderbirds and scored 19 goals and notched 19 assists for a total of 38 points. He has registered 21-25-46 with 130 penalty minutes in 125 career games with the Thunderbirds from 2012-15. The Blue Jackets really like the upside with Kolesar, who has shown he can play up and down the lineup.
Curtis Joe from Elite Prospects had this to say about Kolesar: “A gritty two-way winger with the hard-nosedness and work ethic to frustrate opponents every time he is on the ice. Possesses good awareness in all three zones and knows how to back check hard; however, this doesn't take away from his offensive ability, as he has shown flashes of great offensive playmaking and finishing ability. All-in-all, a physical two-way winger that consistently plays to his strengths and is productive with his ice time.”
Round 5 – No. 129 overall – Sam Ruopp, D, Prince George (WHL)
Sam Ruopp, a Regina, Sask., native played 64 games for the Prince George Cougars during the 2014-15 season, scoring three goals and adding 23 assists for a total of 26 points with 140 penalty minutes while serving as team captain.
Ruopp, NHL Central Scouting's 127th-ranked North American skater, has posted 8-34-42 and 195 penalty minutes in 134 career games with Prince George. Standing at 6-foot-four and weighing 179 lbs., this big-bodied defenseman is considered to have long-term upside but has proven capable of being a steady shutdown guy.
Round 5 – No. 141 overall – Veeti Vainio, D, Blues (Finland)
A native of Espoo, Finland, Vainio spent the 2014-15 season playing for the Blues Jr. in the Finnish league, where he scored 13 goals and tallied 31 assists for a total of 44 points with 42 penalty minutes in 42 games.
Additionally, he played for the Finland U18 team in the WJC-18 and the International-Jr tournaments. He was ranked the No. 25 European Skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. Vainio has tallied 22-45-67 with 88 penalty minutes and a +43 plus/minus rating in 77 career games with the club.
Round 6 – No. 159 Vladislav Gavrikov, D, Yaroslavl (Russia)
Jarmo Kekalainen wanted everyone to know that, just because Vladislav Gavrikov was passed over in his first draft year, doesn't mean he was going to shy away from taking him. Gavrikov hails from the same hometown - Yaroslavl, Russia - as current Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov. Checking in at 6-foot-2 and a solid 205 lbs., Gavrikov carried a +3 rating in 16 games with Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League in 2014-15.
He added one goal and two assists for a total of three points with four penalty minutes in 11 games with HK Ryazan (VHL), and seven points and 16 penalty minutes in 16 games with Loko Yarosavl (MHL).
Gavrikov has tallied 8-19-27 and 66 penalty minutes in 116 career games with Loko Yaroslavl (MHL).
Round 7 – No. 189 Markus Nutivaara, D, Karpat (Finland)
During the seventh and final round of the draft, the Blue Jackets scooped up Karpat (Liiga) defenseman Markus Nutivaara. A native of Oulu, Finland, the 6-foot, 174 lbs. Nutivaara scored two goals and notched six assists for a total of eight points 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.
With the draft officially over and the prospect development camp beginning today, Blue Jackets fans get a chance to see the new draft class in action. You can attend all on-ice sessions FREE at the OhioHealth Ice Haus throughout the week, and if you can't make it, check out BlueJackets.com for complete coverage.