Draft Needs: Draft Preview Part IV

In the fourth installment of our Draft Preview I will look at the needs that the Jackets have going into this year's NHL Entry Draft. The Jackets currently have the following picks:

1) Their first round pick, which is currently 16th overall. If the Ducks win the Stanley Cup, the Jackets move up to 15th overall.

2) The Jackets don't have a second rounder, as it was sent to Ottawa in the Vermette trade.

3) The Jackets have their own third rounder.

4) The Jackets originally had two fourth rounders, ours and Colorado's (which was acquired in the Adam Foote trade) but the Jackets traded their fourth to Calgary at the trade deadline for goaltender Kevin Lalande.

5) The Jackets have their own fifth rounder.

6) The Jackets originally had two 6tth round picks- theirs, and San Jose's, which was acquired in the Jody Shelley trade. Earlier in the year, the Jackets traded San Jose's pick to Atlanta along with Clay Wilson for Jason Williams.

7) The Jackets have their own seventh rounder.

To summarize-

1st, 3rd, 4th(Colorado), 5th, 6th, 7th

I will go ahead assuming the Jackets keep all of these picks, but chances are good there will be movement.

The Jackets have three major needs going into this draft- 1) Depth at the center position 2) Depth at goaltender, and 3) High end skill on defense.

The best way to solve number three is to use their first rounder on a defenseman. There are a handful of high-end defensemen available in the first round, here are some names that could be around when the Jackets pick-

Dmitry Kulikov (Drummondville, QMJHL)

Ryan Ellis (Windsor Spitfires, OHL)

Simon Despres (Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL)

Stefan Elliott (Saskatoon Blades, WHL)

Calvin De Haan (Oshawa Generals, OHL)

David Rundblad (Skelleftea, Sweden)

John Moore (Chicago Steel, USHL)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Leksand, Sweden)

Dylan Olsen (Camrose Kodiaks, AJHL)

Tim Erixon (Skelleftea, Sweden)

To solve need number two, the Jackets would be wise to use their third round pick on a goaltender. They have had success in the past with third rounder goalies, as Steve Mason and current Crunch goaltender Dan LaCosta were both taken in the third round. Here are some goaltenders who may be around when the Jackets pick in the third round:

Scott Stajcer (Owen Sound Attack, OHL)

Mike Zador (Oshawa Generals, OHL)

Jaroslav Janus (Erie Otters, OHL)

Robin Lehner (Frolunda Jr. ,Sweden)

Issue number one on this list, the need for center depth, can be solved by drafting some of these players with a combination of the remaining 4 picks:

David Gilbert (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL)

Tomas Tatar (Zvolen, Slovakia)

Casey Czikas (Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, OHL)

Kevin Lynch (US U-18 NTDP)

Joonas Nattinen (Blues Jr., Finland)

Mike Cichy (Indiana Ice, USHL)

Phil Varone (London Knights, OHL)

Granted, all four of the Jackets picks won't likely all be used on centers, but this gives you a potential breakdown based on need. For example, using the picks I have listed, here is a potential draft for Columbus:

1) Dmitry Kulikov D

3) Jaroslav Janus G

4) (COL) David Gilbert C

5) Casey Czikas C

6) Tomas Tater C

7) Phil Varone C

That would be a rock-solid draft. These picks help fill serious needs, and adds a lot of skill to the prospect ranks. The current prospect pool is heavy on character guys, and not a ton of skill. This hypothetical draft would add skill, along with a future D partner for Fedor Tyutin. Janus was the star of the 2009 World Junior Tournament, and the four forwards I have listed are all highly skilled.

Be sure to tune into Part V of the draft preview when I will go into detail on the potential first round picks.

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