Columbus Blue Jackets Draft Grade and Review
June 28, 2017
By Grant McCagg
Columbus Draft Picks:
#45 – Alex Texier
#86 – Daniil Tarasov
#117 – Emil Bemstrom
#148 – Kale Howarth
#170 – Jonathan Davidsson
#179 – Carson Meyer
#210 – Robbie Stucker
Columbus had a rather puzzling draft weekend that actually started at the expansion draft when the club surrendered its first-round pick so that Las Vegas would take on David Clarkson’s contract and pass on picking Josh Anderson.
Left with no picks in the top two rounds, the Blue Jackets then traded Seattle winger Keegan Kolesar for the 44th pick in the draft to take a player that was underscouted by every NHL team in Alex Texier, an unlikely high pick who played men’s hockey in France.
Texier put up good numbers playing against men and then was scouted predominantly at the U-18’s B Pool where he helped France win the title and advance to the A pool for next season. Unfortunately, the level of hockey was poor, so it was not the best gauge on just how much NHL upside the talented center possesses. He has good smarts and puck skills and competed at an acceptable level, but his skating will certainly need work and he will have to get stronger.
There are two outlooks on taking a gamble on such an unknown commodity when you only have one premium pick in the draft – perhaps he ends up being even better than hoped and Columbus chose what will one day be looked at as a first-round talent. Conversely…he may never play at the NHL level and the Blue Jackets – after taking a Russian goalie in the third round who missed the entire season in Daniil Tarasov – may ultimately end up with no NHL players from this draft class.
Tarasov was highly regarded last season so the hope will be that missing an entire season at 17 won’t hurt his development. That is a rather large hope, and one wonders why Columbus felt it just had to step up for a goalie who may very well have still been available later in the draft instead of taking one of several good prospects still on the board at 86, especially after taking a similar gamble with the 44th pick that it surrendered a decent prospect to obtain.
Emil Bemstrom is a middling Swedish prospect that neither wowed nor disappointed in U-18 tournaments this past seson. Not particularly fast or skilled for his size, Bemstrom is a smart, steady center who will nonetheless be a longshot to play at the NHl level.
Columbus continues the unconventional draft approach with the 148th pick by selecting a 20-year-old from the BCHL passed over twice in the draft. The hope will be that Kale Howarth is a late bloomer, and the Blue Jackets won’t have to sign him until he’s 24, so by then the club will certainly know whether he’s got NHL upside or not. At 6-4, 200 pounds, what he does have is NHL size.
The drafting of 20-year-olds continued as Columbus selected Jonathan Davidsson 170th overall and Carson Meyer with the 178th pick. Marcus’ older brother failed to make Sweden’s U-20 team as a 19-year-old, so he certainly wasn’t highly regarded by the Swedish national team. He has good speed but lacks size and put up mediocre stats in the SHL this past season, scoring three goals in 44 games. Meyer is a 5-10 right winger who scored 26 points in 32 games as a freshman at Miami-Ohio University, demonstrating to scouts that his 32-goal season the year before in the USHL was no fluke. He was worth a flyer in the sixth round.
Grade – D : You would have had a tough time convincing the Columbus scouting staff that the 1999 draft class was a good one. Evidently, the Blue Jackets came to the conclusion that there weren’t many first-time draft-eligible prospect playing in North America or traditional European hockey countries in 2016-17 that were worth drafting as the club selected one such player in the first six rounds.
A prospect from France chosen higher than any other in NHL draft history, a Russian goalie that never played a game and three 20-year-olds in the top six rounds…with one Swedish prospect mixed in who was ranked as the 43rd best skater in Europe by Central Scouting.
Texier will be the key to the draft for Columbus – perhaps the gamble they took will be a profitable one…perhaps not. The possibility certainly exists that the Blue Jackets will have no regular NHLers from this draft class. One player was ranked in Recrutes top 100 and that was Texier, ranked 88th overall, so it’s hard to look at this draft crop with high optimism.