Draft Review: How Did The Columbus Blue Jackets Fare In NHL Drafts 2012-14?

By Ed Francis on July 2, 2021 at 2:50 pm
Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins were drafted two years apart; both have proven themselves as #1 goalies.

Before long, the Columbus Blue Jackets will add three names (pending trades) to their archives of first-round draft picks.

Often criticized for their draft history, the Columbus Blue Jackets do have a history (even if not in the first round) of getting one big thing right in just about every draft.

The drafts of 2012, 2013, and 2014 are no exception. 

As the draft nears, we'll take a look back at past drafts of the Blue Jackets. What went right, what went wrong, and what could have been.

2012: Mid-Round Studs

With one pick in each of the first four rounds, the Blue Jackets made the most of their picks. Ryan Murray, the highest draft pick in franchise history not named Rick Nash, went second overall. When healthy, Murray has been a dependable defenseman for the Blue Jackets and now the New Jersey Devils. 

The Blue Jackets would use their second and third round picks on goalies; the second-rounder being used to select Oscar Dansk, who didn't really pan out at the NHL level. The third rounder? Joonas Korpisalo. Whether or not he'll do it in Columbus next year remains to be seen, but Korpisalo is going to start somewhere in the NHL next season as he approaches one decade of big-league tenure. 

That 4th round pick? He's currently playing in the Stanley Cup Finals. Josh Anderson went 95th overall, and 319 games and 82 goals later, Anderson has three goals with the Montreal Canadiens so far this postseason.


2013: Jarmo's First Draft

Columbus owned six of the first 105 picks in general manager Jarmo Kekalainen's first draft, and while they all weren't homers (Kerby Rychel went 19th overall and Dillon Heatherington went in round two at #50), the 2013 draft did give the franchise a gentleman named Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorky, the 5th of those six picks (third round, 89th overall) has 83 goals and 94 assists in 302 career games, roughly the equivalent of four full seasons. 

Other picks in Kekalainen's first draft were Alexander Wennberg (14th overall), Marko Dano (27th overall), and Nick Moutrey (4th round, 105th overall). Of the six, only Moutrey never suited up in an NHL game. The Blue Jackets other two picks - 6th rounder Markus Soberg and 7th rounder Peter Quenneville - join Moutrey as draft picks that didn't make it to the big leagues.


2014: Thankful For Elvis

Of all of Kekalaine's draft - and maybe all drafts in franchise history - the 2014 draft could be classified as the biggest bust. Sonny Milano went in the first round and defenseman Ryan Collins - who has played a total of 0 NHL games - was drafted in round two. Blake Siebenaler, Julien Pelletier, Tyler Bird, and Oliver Leblanc were four of the five other draft choices in the '14 draft.

After Milano was drafted 16th overall, five consecutive players were drafted who have played at least 200 NHL games, scored at least 20 NHL goals, and tallied at least 60 NHL assists. Those players: Travis Sanheim, Alex Tuch, Anthony Deangelo, Nick Schmaltz, and Robbi Fabbri. Three picks later, at 25th overall, the Boston Bruins took a guy named David Pastrnak. That burns.

Columbus saved at least some face in the draft though, when they selected Elvis Merzlikins in the third round, 76th overall. After struggling in his first few starts with the team during the 2019-20 season, Merzlikins has adapted to the NHL game and become a huge hit with the 5th Line. Kekalainen and company appreciate him too, as he made an otherwise miserable draft at least partially salvageable and saves the Blue Jackets from a failing grade.


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