It's almost here.
One of the most wide-open drafts in recent memory begins Thursday, July 7th — and the Columbus Blue Jackets own two of the top 12 picks.
Earlier this month, we scoured the web to find what mock drafts around the world projected for the Blue Jackets. Nearly a dozen names surfaced, but with another month of chatter and direction, what are the mocks projecting now?
Here's an updated look, and don't forget to check out our scouting report of each player in the box below:
There's been no change on who NHL.com draft experts Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale have Columbus taking with the first of their two picks: forward Cutter Gauthier remains the projected pick by both writers. Kimelman says that the Sweed's "skating and shot are NHL-caliber already", with Morreale adding that Gauthier is a "good skater with a power forward-type game who can really shoot the puck."
Both have a change at #12 for the Blue Jackets, though. In May's mock, forwards Jimmy Snuggerud and Marco Kasper were the picks. Kimelman has switched to blue liner Kevin Korchinski, while Morreale now projects Columbus to go with another forward, Joakim Kemell, at #12. The Blue Jackets may be wise to split the picks between a forward and defenseman, says Kimelman, with Korchinski's "playmaking ability (ranking) among the best at his position in this year's draft."
The Hockey Writers
There's no updated mock draft here; Matthew Savoie at six and Ivan Miroshnichenko at twelve are the projected picks from THW. On Tuesday, though, Peter Baracchini released his final draft rankings. Savoie was the sixth-rated prospect, with Korchinski coming in at #12 as the third-rated defensive prospect behind Simon Nemec (#3) and David Jiricek (#5).
Another update from Tuesday, MyNHLDraft.com has made some changes too. In the last update, it was forward Frank Nazar with Columbus' first pick and defenseman Denton Mateychuk with the second. They've dropped Nazar to Buffalo at #9, and now project the Blue Jackets to select Gauthier at number six. Mateychuk has dropped to Winnipeg at #14, and in his place, they project another blueliner — Pavel Mintyukov — to be the pick.
An updated mock draft from our original scouring, but no update in who Tankathon projects for the Blue Jackets to walk away with: Savoie is again the pick at six, and Korchinski surfaces again here at #12.
Another draft that was updated Tuesday, Lines.com has one change from their previous mock. Kemell remains the sixth selection, but Brad Lambert has been dropped from the Blue Jackets at #12 to the Nashville Predators at #17. In his place is Nazar, who would be yet another Michigan Wolverine who would be fast-tracked for Columbus.
David Jiricek would be a steal at #6, but that's what the folks at DraftUtopia have in their mock. At #12, another steal, with the Blue Jackets projected to take Gauthier. That's someone Columbus would be happy with at #6, and elated to grab with the second of their first-rounders. Nazar and Korchinski were the picks here in their last mock, but this haul seems to have even more potential.
Some updates here, but not in the Blue Jackets first pick: Bleacher Report still likes Columbus to snag Kemell at #6. Of note, they have Jiricek going right behind him to Ottawa. That would be, potentially, a mistake. If Jiricek or Nemec are there at number six, the Blue Jackets need a top defensive prospect and both fit the bill.
A brand new name enters the fray at #12: Danila Yurov. They acknowledge that "Yurov will require another year or two of seasoning in the KHL before he'll be ready to make the jump to the NHL," but cite the specific need for a right-winger as the reason for the pick.
In our initial scouring, the last draft featured was The Sporting News', who had Columbus taking Jiricek at number six and Lambert at 12. But they've not done an update in over a month, so let's check in on what the gang over at The Athletic have to say.
At number six, the pick is a common one: Gauthier. Aaron Portzline makes the case for Gauthier with one simple statement: "The Blue Jackets are stocked with young wingers, but there's always room for a talent like Gauthier."
At number 12, the pick is another forward and a new name to the updated version of the mocks: Conor Geekie. The 6'4" center would bring plenty of skill but also a large-framed forward, something the Blue Jackets could desperately use.