What a week!
First off, before we get things started on the blog, my many thanks go out to the people of Pittsburgh, the Penguins, and the National Hockey League for making the 2012 NHL Draft a great experience for all involved. We were fortunate to have great weather (which always helps), but those in charge of putting on the event did a tremendous job. I'm already looking forward to next year's draft in New Jersey -- but not before we get to roll out the red carpet in January for the All-Star Game here in Columbus!
Now, on to business.
I got the sense from Scott Howson and the Blue Jackets staff (both before and after the draft) that they were going into the weekend with an aggressive mentality toward filling needs in the organization. Top of the list, as Howson has said many times, was the goaltending position. That doesn't simply mean players at the NHL level -- the club needed top-end prospects that can develop into No. 1 goaltenders in the next few years.
After the team opted to let Mathieu Corbeil go back into the draft pool (and he was not selected in this year's draft), it was clear they were going after goaltenders.
By all accounts, and from those I talked to, the sense is the Blue Jackets got two very solid prospects at goaltender -- and Oscar Dansk (31st overall) was their top-rated netminder. Many mock drafts had Dansk going in the first round, and after Howson said there was a player at No. 31 they "really like," you got the feeling it was Dansk.
|Oscar Dansk meets CBJ director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright at the NHL Draft. |
Joonas Korpisalo could be a sleeper for the Blue Jackets. Dansk may be the guy who gets more of the attention because of where he was selected, but Korpisalo has a ton of raw, natural ability and says he likes to model his game after fellow Finn netminder Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Korpisalo is 6-foot-3 and regarded as a quick-footed, athletic goalie who makes efficient movements between the pipes. Like Dansk, he's likely a few years away from the NHL, but Howson said both goaltenders could play in Canadian junior hockey this season.
Blue Jackets fans will get a close-up look at all of this year's draft picks when Development Camp begins on July 3 at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. BlueJackets.com and JacketsTV will have you covered wall-to-wall once the sessions begin -- and don't forget, the practices are open to the public. So come down to the Arena District and get a glimpse of the future in the Blue Jackets organization!
On the pro side, things will start to heat up as we get closer to the start of NHL free agency. Howson got out ahead of the game by trading draft picks to the Flyers for Sergei Bobrovsky, who is going to come into training camp with an opportunity to compete for the No. 1 goaltender's job. The scouting report on "Bob" is that he's got a lot of talent, and has playoff experience while with the Flyers -- and posted some impressive numbers during the 2010-11 season when he got ample playing time.
Howson said the team still plans to add another goaltender that can play in the NHL once free agency opens, so we'll keep track of that as news develops. July 1 falls on a Sunday this year, so kick back, relax, and follow our coverage on BlueJackets.com as soon as the clock strikes noon and the "frenzy" is under way. I'll be speaking with Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards and goaltending coach Ian Clark today about the acquisition of Bobrovsky, so look for a story on the site either tonight or tomorrow morning.
Again, thank you for reading our coverage all week long from Pittsburgh, and for interacting with us on Twitter @BlueJacketsNHL. Stay tuned as we bring you all the #CBJ news throughout the offseason, as we get set for the 2012-13 season!