Options for the Jackets with the 34th Overall Pick
The Jackets took Pierre-Luc Dubois with the 3rd overall pick of the draft last night, and won’t have to wait long this morning before they make their next selection.
Assuming no trades, the Jackets will take the podium with the fourth selection of the second round, 34th overall.
Thanks to some off the board picks by some squads in the first round, there’s a bevy of talented players available for the Jackets to grab. I really don’t see the team taking a goaltender, but using the BPA philosophy, here’s eight names to keep in mind:
C Rasmus Asplund - if they don’t go goalie, I can totally see the Leafs taking Asplund at 31. He’s a two-way center that was penciled in as a compliment to Leafs prospect William Nylander at the 2016 World Juniors. With Nylander’s concussion, Asplund stepped in and elevated his game.
C Pascal Laberge - Would the Jackets go back to the QMJHL with their second choice in the 2016 draft? From a playing style perspective, Laberge fits the CBJ mold. He’s a two-way center with offensive ability. After taking PLD, I’m not sure Laberge is necessary, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise.
RW Vitali Abramov - At this point there’s a very real risk that the Jackets could lose Cam Atkinson to Las Vegas in the expansion draft. It may be a bit cliche, but a logical insurance policy against this is to draft another pint-sized goal-scoring right winger in Abramov. The guy puts up serious offense, and is already in North America so the “Russian Factor” is not an issue.
RW Alex Debrincat - See Abramov, above. Debrincat has proven that he can fill the net, and play with the star players. He’s put up back-to-back 51 goal seasons in the OHL, which isn’t something a player accidentally accomplishes.
D Kale Clague - A puck-mover, Clague would add to the depth that the Jackets are building on defense in the organization. Some scouts had him as a late first-rounder.
D Libor Hajek - A defense-first blueliner, Hajek is a safe pick, though for the Jackets he joins their already well-stocked group of shutdown defenders like Gabriel Carlsson, Ryan Collins, Dillon Heatherington et al.
D Samuel Girard - Another rearguard that oozes offensive talent, Girard is undersized for a defenseman at 5’9”, but his elusiveness and positioning can overcome this. Personally speaking, I’d love to see him drafted 34th.
D Markus Niemelainen - A Finn playing for Saginaw of the OHL, Niemelainen is a two-way blueliner that moves the puck, yet likely won’t score a ton of points. He makes a lot of sense for the Jackets at 34 as they continue to stock the pipeline with talented defenders.