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Columbus Blue Jackets take defenseman at No. 21

NHL.com @NHL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -The Columbus Blue Jackets were willing to wait - a little while, anyway - for John Moore.

After making a trade to move down 10 spots and another to move up five, the Blue Jackets grabbed the offensive-minded defenseman from Chicago of the United States Hockey League with the No. 21 pick in the first round of Friday's NHL draft at Bell Centre in Montreal.

The selection brought a roar from a large crowd who came out to Nationwide Arena to watch the Blue Jackets' draft.

Moore is 6-foot-2 and weighs 192 pounds and has committed to Colorado College. He had 14 goals and 25 assists in 57 games last season with Chicago.

"I'm a two-way defenseman and my skating is probably my greatest asset," Moore said. "Also, I think I'm good on the power play."

Whether Moore is able to play right away or until he's had at least a year or two of college or minor-league seasoning, the Blue Jackets wanted a defenseman, particularly one who can be the triggerman on the power play.

"He's a real good skater. He gets up the ice and likes to handle the puck," general manager Scott Howson said. "That's something we really need in Columbus."

Moore, a native of Winnetka, Ill., was ranked sixth among all North American skaters by NHL scouts.

He was asked how long he thought it would be until he could help the Blue Jackets.

"I'm going to work as hard as I can. The goal I have for myself is one year of making it to the NHL," he said. "I hope it's sooner rather than later."

If that's the case, he could soon be taking on the hometown Blackhawks' Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

"My buddies will get a chuckle out of that," he said. "I come from big Blackhawks country."

Howson said he intended to inject some fresh blood on defense.

"We're going to draft the player who we think is going to be the best NHL player, regardless of position. Having said that, there are a number of defensemen that will be picked in the first round," he said before the draft. "So it's entirely possible we may pick a defenseman. That would be great to restock at that position."

Blue Jackets fans flooded Nationwide Arena on Friday night for a draft party that featured Calder Trophy-winning goaltender Steve Mason playing stick hockey with children, tours of the dressing rooms and conditioning rooms, sitting on the Zambonis and snapping pictures with winger R.J. Umberger and Jared Boll.

The Blue Jackets had hoped 500 people would show up. Maybe four times that many did. The line to get in was more than a block long a full two hours before the draft began in Montreal.

Mason, stamped as the NHL's top rookie last week, seemed to have as much fun as if he were playing with the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. After scoring a goal against kids half the size of his 6-foot-4 frame, he slapped five with dozens of kids lining the temporary rink and laughed as he said, "Take notes. That's how it's done!"

The Blue Jackets originally had the 16th pick in the opening round but dealt it along with a third-round pick, No. 77 overall. In return, they received the No. 26 pick in the first round, No. 37 in the second, No. 62 in the third and No. 92 in the fourth from the Islanders.

Then they dealt the 26th and 37th picks to Anaheim to get Moore.

The last time the Blue Jackets drafted a blue-liner who has made significant contributions was Kris Russell, taken in the third round of the 2005 draft. Russell had 2 goals, 19 assists and a minus-10 plus/minus rating a year ago.

In recent years, the club has stocked up on forwards, with current Blue Jackets Boll, Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard, Jake Voracek and Nikita Filatov all coming in the last four drafts.

Columbus' first pick had never been worse than No. 8 in any of its previous eight drafts.

Columbus compiled a 41-31-10 record a year ago and grabbed the seventh seed in the Western Conference before being swept by the Detroit Red Wings in their first-round, best-of-seven series. The club is expected to retain most of the members of that team, including leading scorer Rick Nash (40 goals, 39 assists in 78 games), fellow wingers Kristian Huselius (21 goals, 35 assists in 74 games) and Umberger (26 goals, 20 assists in 82 games) and Mason. Mason was 33-20-7 with nine shutouts and a 2.29 goals-against average after taking over in net a month into the season.

The second through seventh rounds of the draft are on Saturday.

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