Welcome to the 2nd installment of our 'Names To Know', 2023 edition, a look-ahead at prospects who the Columbus Blue Jackets could select in the upcoming NHL Draft.
The Blue Jackets have two first-round draft picks—No. 3 and No. 22–giving the club an opportunity to solidify their core in a deep first round.
Today we're looking at Andrew Cristall.
Previous Names To Know
The 18-year-old left wing played for the WHL's Kelowna Rockets and wore the "A" for them last season. Cristall has spent parts of three seasons with Kelowna and he put up 95 points (39 goals, 56 assists) in 54 games in 2022-23 to lead the team in all three categories. He had a goal in four playoff games.
Cristall also played for Canada in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, putting up six points (one goal, five assists) in five games, and he wore the "A" for Canada in the World Juniors where he had six points (two goals, four assists) in seven games.
And all of this production despite missing 14 games due to a quad contusion.
As The Athletic's Scott Wheeler mentioned in April:
He finished sixth in the WHL in scoring with 95 points despite having missed 14 games. His 1.76 points per game was actually third-best, behind only that longtime friend, Connor Bedard, who will undoubtedly be this year’s CHL Player of the Year, and Logan Stankoven, last year’s CHL Player of the Year. His 68-game pace was actually 120 points. Players who produce in that stratosphere are typically picked right at the top of the draft — or close. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ 106 points in 69 games in 2011, and Nolan Patrick’s 102 points in 72 games in 2016, both landed them No. 1 and No. 2 in their drafts respectively.
Where his scoring ability would typically place him at the top of the draft, there are questions about his defensive play, skating, and size that could give teams pause. Cristall played with Connor Bedard, Kent Johnson, and Jake Christiansen in a roller hockey league in North Vancouver so there are some unofficial Blue Jackets ties for what that's worth.
In May, Wheeler ranked Cristall 13th. In March, The Athletic's Corey Pronman ranked Cristall 33rd, projecting him as a middle-of-the-lineup player, and down from his initial January ranking at 28th. In May, he dropped Cristall from his top group of prospects.
In today's mock draft by both Wheeler and Pronman, Wheeler had Cristall going 29th so there's a bit of a wide variety as to how soon he could be selected.
But in what's considered a deep draft, it feels like more and more of a crapshoot as to how players later in the first round and beyond will do at the NHL level now and especially five years from now.
In NHL Draft Pros’ scouting report below, they break down all of Cristall's game including his skating, shooting, passing, puck control, and his compete level.
While Cristall's skating and straightaway speed can improve, notable high marks for his game are of the offensive variety including his edgework and being able to deke around defenders, shooting accuracy, his passing ability, whether through the legs and setting up one-timers, or drawing players to him and finding open lanes.
Cristall might be in the mid-to-later range of the first round of the draft. It looks like the offensive game will be there for him but he needs to clean up the defense and skating as he enters the next level.
The Blue Jackets might just end up trading their second first-round pick but anything is on the table right now.
What do you think about Cristall or the Blue Jackets' plans for pick No. 22?
|My NHL Draft||17th|