After choosing Max Domi 14th overall, we turned our attention to another forward with the 19th overall selection. Given the lack of depth and high-end talent up front, and the relative strength of the defense, we wanted to add a player who filled organizational needs but was also one of the best players available.
We went with Valentin Zykov.
He's a rough-and-tumble power winger with a real nose for the net and good size. He was one of the best players on a very good Baie-Comeau team that made it to the QMJHL finals this year. Domi has more natural offensive talent, but Zykov brings an element that the Jackets are sorely lacking right now- high end skill paired with physicality and size.
Zykov was awarded the Michel Bergeron trophy as QMJHL Rookie of the Year and the RDS Cup as Overall Rookie of the Year. In addition, he was also named CHL Rookie of the Year, beating out none other than Seth Jones and Erie Otters phenom Connor McDavid.
Another player we considered with this pick was Anthony Mantha, but he was taken one spot prior by the Detroit Red Wings.
The draft, thus far:
|1||Colorado Avalanche||Nathan MacKinnon|
|2||Florida Panthers||Jonathan Drouin|
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning||Seth Jones|
|4||Nashville Predators||Aleksander Barkov|
|5||Carolina Hurricanes||Valeri Nichushkin|
|6||Calgary Flames||Sean Monahan|
|7||Edmonton Oilers||Elias Lindholm|
|8||Buffalo Sabres||Darnell Nurse|
|9||New Jersey Devils||Hunter Shinkaruk|
|10||Dallas Stars||Rasmus Ristolainen|
|11||Philadelphia Flyers||Mirco Mueller|
|12||Phoenix Coyotes||Bo Horvat|
|13||Winnipeg Jets||Kerby Rychel|
|14||Columbus Blue Jackets||Max Domi|
|15||New York Islanders||Alexander Wennberg|
|16||Buffalo Sabres||Frederik Gauthier|
|17||Ottawa Senators||Ryan Pulock|
|18||Detroit Red Wings||Anthony Mantha|
|19||Columbus Blue Jackets||Valentin Zykov|
If Ryan Pulock was still on the board at 19th overall, he would have been awfully tempting as well.
Zykov should be a great fit with the Jackets. He's got plenty of countrymen mentors on the team to ease his transition, and is already playing in North America. The Drakkar should be contenders again next season, and Zykov will be leading them. He'll have time to develop, and when he's ready he has the ability to step into the Columbus lineup and provide a power forward element not seen on a Columbus roster in quite some time.
For more on Zykov, check out his draft prospect profile.
In terms of a projection, he would be a fantastic compliment to Cam Atkinson at right wing. The duo could very well man the top two right wing positions in the future, with Atkinson's lack of size offset by Zykov's bulk and pugnacity. He'd do well playing with a playmaking center, but he has the ability to create offense himself by taking the puck to the net and working along the boards.
Video courtesy of on YouTube.