The Five: The Best Under the Radar Picks in Columbus Blue Jackets Franchise History

By Ed Francis on September 25, 2020 at 1:20 pm
Cam, Gavy, and Savy: Important Pieces That Were Not Drafted Early.
John E. Sokolowski-USA Today Sports

After picking at #21 in the upcoming NHL Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets will not pick again until round four, at #113.

That doesn't mean that they can't snag an impact player, though. They've done it before, and in The Five, we take a look at some of the best current Blue Jackets that were drafted outside of the top two rounds of the draft. 

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Emil Bemstrom (2017, 4th round, 117th overall) and Vladislav Gavrikov (2015, 6th round, 159th overall)

#5: DAVID SAVARD (2009, 4th round, 94th overall)

Columbus whiffed in this draft on their earlier picks, taking John Moore in the first round and Kevin Lynch in the second. (Googles Kevin Lynch... 29 goals in the last half decade in the AHL) 

But they got a steal in Savard, who would make his CBJ debut the 2011-12 season and has been a steady hand on the blue line since 2013. Although, let's be honest, the coolest moment of Savard's career was last April. 

Without that sick goal, do the Jackets even get out of the first round last year? That was the textbook definition of a momentum swing. 

By the way, huge props to the 4th round of the 2009 draft class. Casey Cizikas, Craig Smith, Marcus Foligno, Sami Vatanen, and Mattias Ekholm were all picked in round four. Not bad.

#4: JOSH ANDERSON (2012, 4th round, 95th overall) 

If he were healthy this season, there's a good chance Big Josh Anderson would have been a little higher than #4, but he wasn't, and he finds himself slotted just ahead of David Savard. Another 4th round pick, this time from the 2012 draft, Anderson has proven his worth as a winger time and time again.

His 65 career NHL goals are good enough for him to be the second in goals scored from the 4th round of 2012, behind Andreas Athanasiou (84 goals, and drafted at #110). Cast a wider net, and the results are the same: Athanasiou and Anderson are 1-2 for goals scored from any player drafted outside of the first round of the 2012 draft. 

Now, let's just hope he's actually willing to resign

#3: OLIVER BJORKSTRAND (2013, 3rd round, 89th overall) 

Number three on this list has the same number of career goals as number four, but even though he was drafted a few spots higher, Oliver Bjorkstrand feels like more of a long-term sure thing, especially as a member of the Blue Jackets. 

Missing some time this season with a fluke injury was a set back, but it looked like he was starting to get his mojo back in the Tampa Bay series and the ceiling on Bjorky this upcoming season looks to be high. 

Bjorkstrand was the last really good player from this draft class. No player drafted after him has more goals or points than him, and only 4th round pick Will Butcher (drafted by Colorado, now with New Jersey) has more assists. 

#2: JOONAS KORPISALO (2012, 3rd round, 62nd overall) / ELVIS MERZLIKINS (2014, 3rd round, 76th overall) 

They're a tandem in the net, so they're a tandem in this list, too. Two third round draft picks who are the same age, and who Columbus fans are torn about when it comes to dealing one of them for some offensive firepower. For now, how can you separate them?

Losing Sergei Bobrovsky, which once seemed like a death blow, turned out to be one of the best things for the Blue Jackets. (Things You'd Never Imagine Anyone Saying Last Year For $400, Alex) 

Aside from saving millions of dollars, it's clear that Columbus has multiple NHL-caliber goalies. That means that, even in losing one of them, the draft pick will pay off for whatever Columbus is able to get in return. 


#1: CAM ATKINSON (2008, 6th round, 157th overall) 

You didn't expect to see anyone else here, right?

This draft class was kind to the Blue Jackets in later rounds because, not only did they get Atkinson at #157 (!!), they also picked up Matty Calvert in the fifth round.

From the entire draft class, Atkinson's 368 points ranks him 11th in the category. Take out first round picks and that catapults to 4th. (By the way, just behind Atkinson at #12 from the class of 2008? Gustav Nyquist picked in round 4 at #121)

But it's not about that. Atkinson has been a staple of Columbus hockey for nearly a decade. He is second in team history in games played (571), goals (198), and points (368), and trails only Rick Nash in all three categories. Though, he does have Nash beat in one stat: Six career hat tricks. 

Cam seems the type who is a Columbus lifer, even when his playing days are over. The Blue Jackets were lucky - and smart - to make him what would be the best value draft pick in team history.

As always, if I missed anyone or if you don't like the order, yell at me in the comments below!