The Blue Jackets had a list of priorities heading into this weekend's NHL Draft, and GM Scott Howson is pleased he was able to cross a significant number of them off his to-do list.
With just two goaltenders under contract in the organization -- and very few in the pipeline to begin with -- the Blue Jackets sought to bolster their depth in goal, and wanted to do so at their draft table. After two highly-rated netminders were selected in last night's first round, the next best available goaltender was young Oscar Dansk from Shattuck St. Mary's, and Howson zeroed in on him at 31st overall.
After the conclusion of the first round, Howson admitted he had legitimate trade offers from two NHL clubs interested in the 31st pick, but said "there's a player there we really like." When NHL senior VP Jim Gregory let the Blue Jackets know they were on the clock, there was not much deliberation -- Dansk was their guy, and the second piece acquired this weekend geared to rebuilding the goaltending position in the organization.
"I feel like I have a good opportunity (in Columbus)," Dansk said. "I'm going to work hard now, but it's probably going to take some time, though. It could happen fast, too, you never. I'm just going to work hard every day and see how it goes.
"I'm really happy about it. My dream is always to come in (to the NHL) at 20, but I know it's a process and I'm willing to go through the process, however long it's going to take me."
The same feelings were shared by Joonas Korpisalo, a Finnish goaltender from the Jokerit organization. He was selected in the third round (62nd overall), making it back-to-back goalies for the Blue Jackets. Korpisalo is regarded as an athletic goalie who has experience in international tournaments, and has been a successful player for his junior club in Jokerit.
Korpisalo posted a 2.04 goals-against average, .920 save percentage and four shutouts this year and, like Dansk, could be on his way to Canadian major junior hockey this fall. Both players are slated to be included in the CHL Import Draft in the coming weeks, where their next destinations will likely be revealed.
"When they announced my name, I was so excited," Korpisalo said. "To be drafted to a team and a city like Columbus, it's unbelievable. I feel great because I know I can be the No. 1 goalie there, so yeah, I feel pretty good. That's what I have to do, and being the No. 1 goalie and winning the Stanley Cup...that's the dream."
Howson said he would welcome the decision of both goaltenders to come to North America and play junior hockey. And though the Blue Jackets have added to their goaltending depth this weekend, he said there's more work to be done on that front.
"We're well-stocked," Howson said. "They're both obviously young kids, but I know Oscar wants to come and play junior hockey. I haven't talked to Joonas yet about what he wants to do. If he wanted to do that, they can both come over and play.
"We need to add more goalies, two more pros. We certainly need another goalie that can play in the NHL, that would give us competition at that spot for this year."