As the 2021 NHL draft approaches, the Columbus Blue Jackets are in a pseudo enviable spot. They have three picks in the first round and they can package it in any way they see fit to improve their team.
Being at the very top of the draft, they will have a smorgasbord of options. They won't necessarily have to draft on positional need. A lot of it is going to be the best player available. Luckily, while their isn't an upper echelon that is comparable to a lot of years, there is a batch of players that could see themselves picked all around the same area.
Today, we will be looking at three options at defensemen for the fifth overall pick.
With near-consensus #1 overall pick Owen Power off the board, the group of players below him is interesting. Clarke is the offensive dynamo that you can rely upon to get pucks up ice and pucks in the net. By all accounts, scouts say he loves to join the rush and impress in the offensive zone.
For a team lacking any sort of game-breaker at the moment, Clarke would immediately fill that role. He is dynamic but he also is able to close gaps well. He is somebody that should really be considered and could very well be gone by the time the Blue Jackets pick. With a pandemic-riddled season, it will be interesting to see how they view someone like Clarke who played well in the U18's but played his most recent season over in Slovakia.
If you read any mock draft right now whether it is The Athletic, ESPN or a Canadian outlet, a lot of them are mocking Edvinsson to the Blue Jackets. It does make some sense. He is big, he defends well, he can skate. He checks off a lot of the boxes that you want in a top pick in the first round.
Lets start this journey towards the 2021 NHL Draft with this clip of 6'4 defenseman Simon Edvinsson doing Simon Edvinsson stuff. pic.twitter.com/BuwQPNzMbq— Mikael Holm (@carlmikaelholm) October 25, 2020
Does that above clip remind you of anyone on the Blue Jackets? He has all of the tools but when you look at is production it is good but not great. He obviously has all of the pieces and parts to make him into a great player. Does he put it all together though at the NHL level but even more importantly at the level you'd need for a top pick.
That last name sounds familiar, eh? Brother to Jack and Quinn, Luke is a solid player all on his own. One of the youngest players available in this draft-eligible class, you begin to be excited about his potential. A solid skater, on par with Edvinsson and Clarke by all accounts from scouts, Hughes has mostly played for the USDP and has yet to make it to the University of Michigan which will be a fascinating barometer.
LUKE HUGHES. Spin and pass to Jack Hughes (no relation) and Jack scores. pic.twitter.com/pjlLJOiMlv— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) February 16, 2020
He has a lot of Quinn in him and it makes the pick all the more tantalizing. He would however be more of a long-term project than anything. Not that he doesn't have the skill, it would just take longer to get him to the NHL unless he impresses immediately. You would be drafting off of potential which is what you do at the draft but is there such thing as too much projection?
Follow 1st Ohio Battery