Meet the new Blue Jackets: John Ramage, Oleg Yevenko and Dean Kukan

The Jackets added a few new faces this summer. Let's learn a bit more about three of them.

Our "Meet the New Blue Jackets" series continues with a trio of defensemen who may be ticketed for Cleveland this season to play for the Lake Erie Monsters:

John Ramage

Ramage served as captain for two seasons at the University of Wisconsin. He's a physical though not overly big (6-foot, 205) blueliner who can move the puck fairly well.

He's also, by the way, the son of former NHL'er Rob Ramage. One of my favorite moments ever was when Rob Ramage told Jacques Demer he was "dead f*****g meat" during a Leafs-Wings game. Here's video of the incident. The NHL of the late 80s: Good times!

Anyway, John Ramage made his NHL debut last April with Calgary, but he spent most of the year with Adirondack of the AHL, posting a 3-12-15 to go along with 81 PIMs in 57 games. Given his genes, it's probably not surprising that he plays with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, but he's going to have to show significant all-around improvement if he wants a shot in Columbus.


Age: 24
Hometown: Chesterfield, Mo.
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205lbs
Shoots: Right
Draft status: 2011 Fourth Rounder (103rd, Flames)
Cap hit: $600,000 (NHL)

Oleg Yevenko

Another college hockey guy (UMass-Amherst), Yevenko stands out first and foremost because of his size: 6-foot-7, 230 pounds. The Belarusian does all of his best work in the back third of the ice, blocking shots (he was 11th in the nation among Division I skaters last year with 89), killing penalties and generally wreaking havoc.

Yevenko is said to possess a good shot, but his strengths lie in using that big body of his to deny opponents space and in making board-shaking hits. You might picture him as a big, slow, lumbering blueliner, but realize that 230 pounds isn't really all that much for a man 79 inches tall. He's actually quite mobile, which will obviously work to his advantage in the professional ranks.

In a previous post we promised not to make Ivag Drago comparisons this season when talking about Yevenko. But hopefully you'll indulge me as I imagine Yevenko standing over some poor sap he has just drilled into the ice and saying these words.

Seriously, though, a kid with his size and natural skills is worth a look. He may not get that look this year, but eventually the Jackets are going to be anxious to know what they have in the big man and will bring him up to show his stuff. (Note that his deal is a one-year AHL contract with Lake Erie.)


Age: 24
Hometown: Minsk, Belarus
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 230lbs
Shoots: Left
Draft status: Undrafted
Cap hit: N/A

Dean Kukan

Kukan is an undrafted Swiss kid whose hockey career to date has consisted of playing on the international level in between stints with Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League. Scouts characterize him as a prototypical two-way defenseman, balancing puck-moving ability with good positioning and instincts in the defensive end.

In 52 games last season in Sweden he went 3-10-13 as a 21-year-old. The previous year he was 4-8-12, so if nothing else he's consistent. As is always the case with Euro skaters (particularly defensemen), the question is how well he will transition to the North American game. He should get a decent amount of ice time in Cleveland to adapt.


Age: 22
Hometown: Zürich, Switzerland
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 209lbs
Shoots: Left
Draft status: Undrafted
Cap hit: N/A

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