If you read our top prospects feature series on BlueJackets.com, the name Filip Forsberg should not be unfamiliar. Much like top-ranked North American skater Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting (OHL), Forsberg finished the 2011-12 season atop the European draft rankings from NHL Central Scouting.
What's the scoop on Forsberg? He's young (17 years old) but many believe he's the next big thing to come out of the European hockey ranks. The big, lanky Swede played in the Swedish "second" league for Leskands IF this past season, and is considered one of the better two-way players available in this draft class. He can play both center and right wing, and has a "power forward" element to his game, as well.
Here's a brief scouting report on Forsberg, via Goran Stubb of NHL Central Scouting:
"A leader who shows by example -- I would compare him to Anaheim's Corey Perry a little bit. Has a nose for the net, and often scores the big goals. He's a creative playmaker, good skater with fine straight-ahead speed. He's a right-handed forward with an excellent shot and an effective two-way player with a great winning attitude. Filip's a solid puck carrier with very good puck-handling skills; mature, good size and physically strong. On top of that, he'll sacrifice himself to make the play.”
Since we're in the mock draft swing of things, let's have a look at another one. Blue Jackets television voice Jeff Rimer is one of the most connected people in the NHL, and he has been doing his homework leading up to this year's NHL Draft. There's a lot of intrigue and uncertainty at the top of the draft board, and based on the varying opinions and mock drafts out there, it's easy to decipher that there's no true consensus from picks 1-10.
We checked in with Rimer recently and he was kind enough to submit his projections for the top 10 selections. Here they are:
JEFF RIMER'S MOCK DRAFT:
1. EDMONTON OILERS: Nail Yakupov
2. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Ryan Murray
3. MONTREAL CANADIENS: Filip Forsberg
4. NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Morgan Rielly
5. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Mikhail Grigorenko
6. ANAHEIM DUCKS: Matthew Dumba
7. MINNESOTA WILD: Griffin Reinhart
8. CAROLINA HURRICANES: Alex Galchenyuk
9. WINNIPEG JETS: Radek Faksa
10. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Malcolm Subban
As the NHL Draft week gets started, we're going to be tapping into our #CBJ community leaders' hockey brains to see what they're thinking. The Blue Jackets fanbase has some of the best bloggers in the NHL, and several terrific sites dedicated to opining on/covering the club. What better way to kick off the week than get their analysis on the upcoming draft?
First up is our friend @CBJProspects -- this guy is an information super-hub when it comes to prospects both in and outside the organization. He's also a featured writer for the new CBJ site known as The Union Blue. Got a question about a kid playing at Colgate, or a recent draft pick's +/- in junior hockey? Jas probably has the answer for you. He hopes to have (at least some of) the answers right in his mock draft:
@CBJProspects' 2012 MOCK DRAFT:
1. EDMONTON OILERS: Ryan Murray
2. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Nail Yakupov
3. MONTREAL CANADIENS: Mikhail Grigroenko
4. NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Matt Dumba
5. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Alex Galchenyuk
6. ANAHEIM DUCKS: Filip Forsberg
7. MINNESOTA WILD: Teuvo Teravainen
8. CAROLINA HURRICANES: Morgan Reilly
9. WINNIPEG JETS: Radek Faksa
10. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: Griffin Reinhart
11. WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Jacob Trouba
12. BUFFALO SABRES: Colton Sissons
13. DALLAS STARS: Cody Ceci
14. CALGARY FLAMES: Derrick Pouliot
15. OTTAWA SENATORS: Pontus Aberg
What do you think about Jas' mock draft? Tweet us @BlueJacketsNHL, and use the #CBJDraft hashtag to join the conversation!
Throughout the next few days, we will occasionally feature an NHL.com video inteview with several of this year's NHL Draft prospects. Today's subject is Anthony Stolarz of the Corpus Christi IceRays (NAHL), a 6-foot-5 goalie prospect that has garnered a lot of attention coming out of the Scouting Combine.
Not only is his size an appealing asset for NHL clubs in search of goaltending help, but Stolarz's path to this point is indicative of a fierce competitor. Prior to this past season, he didn't have a team to play for and it took a recommendation to earn him an invite to the IceRays' training camp. Stolarz earned his spot, and this fall, he will play college hockey for Dean Blais at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Here is a brief scouting report on Stolarz, via Al Jensen of NHL Central Scouting:
"He reminds me of Ben Bishop. He's tall and not wearing big equipment, but has great athleticism, great drive and determination. He's controlled, has great reflexes. He's got that quickness that's required in a pro goalie."
So, here we are. It's NHL Draft week.
This is always an exciting time of the year for hockey fans, and it's no different for those who work for an NHL team. We've just come off the high of the Stanley Cup Final -- and it was a terrific series this year -- but now, the draft gives us our first taste of what's to come during the summer.
One of the most intrguing parts of this week (for me, at least) is seeing all of the preparation and legwork put into action. Scouts have scoured the globe for an entire year, logged many sleepless nights, taken the red-eye on too many occasions, and engulfed countless cups of coffee all for the same reason: to make sure their team is in the best possible position once the clock starts ticking on Friday night.
It doesn't stop with the scouts, either. Hockey operations staffs have discussed, debated and deliberated among themselves for weeks to make sure they get it right. I think back to a conversation I had with Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, just a few weeks back.
He reiterated this point: they are doing everything in their power to get this right. They want to draft the best player available at No. 2 overall, and they've put in a lot of work to help make their decision.
And that's where the intrigue begins. The options are plentiful and the possibilities endless. Teams could get aggressive and move up the draft board, and other teams could opt to move back in the draft order and collect multiple picks in return. We have seen big names on the move during draft week, and the rumors/speculation/chatter have picked up just as they typically do this time of year.
The best part: you never know what's going to happen.
Most people you talk to about the draft are in agreement that this week and weekend could be very entertaining. Let's hope so, because the suspense and drama are a large part of what makes draft week an edge-of-the-seat experience for hockey fans.
You can follow all of the news right here on this blog. I'll be posting regular updates all week long, and our friends at JacketsTV will be supplying video content, as well. So keep it locked to the CBJ.com Draft Central blog, and join the battle with us as the offseason unofficially gets under way.
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New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano talks with the media after his team's morning skate:
Bob McElligott and Islanders radio broadcaster Chris King preview the game tonight in today's Game Breakdown on Jackets TV:
Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards speaks with the media before the game tonight:
Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett talks with Bob McElligott about tonight's game against the Islanders on Jackets TV:
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson talks with Bob McElligott about tonight's game against the Islanders on Jackets TV:
SAFELITE AUTOGLASS GLASS SHATTERING HIT: Have you voted for this year's best "glass shattering hit?" Check out the nominees on BlueJackets.com, and be sure to place your vote below the videos. If you cast your vote, you're entered in a drawing to win an autographed Jack Johnson jersey!
We've featured one of the potential hits below -- and it's R.J. Umberger delivering a huge hit on the Bruins' Milan Lucic on Dec. 10.
ISLANDERS LINEUP: The Islanders' morning skate just concluded on the main ice and head coach Jack Capuano is meeting with the media as we speak. When the video of his scrum is ready, we will post it on the BlueJackets.com Game Day page, as well as here in the blog.
One interesting note about New York's roster tonight: rookie defenseman Matt Donovan, recently called up from Bridgeport (AHL) on April 3, will be in the linep for this third NHL game. Donovan, a fourth-round pick (96th overall) of the Islanders in 2008, is the first NHL player to be born, raised, and trained in the state of Oklahoma.
Al Montoya is expected to get the start for the Islanders.
Here's the expected lineup for New York:
TODD RICHARDS SPEAKS: Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards just finished his final morning skate media availability of the season here in the press conference room at Nationwide Arena. We'll have the full transcript (and video) of his comments coming soon, but for now, here are some notable items discussed today:
- Richards said he's most proud of the team's consistency and structure over the final 41 games of the season. Said although the team didn't have "much to play for" after the first month of the season, they stuck together and finished the year on a positive note.
- Asked if the Blue Jackets have met their internal goals for the second half of the year, Richards said with a smile: "We'll find out after the game."
- Steve Mason is tonight's starting goaltender. He will be backed up by Shawn Hunwick.
- Richards said captain Rick Nash skated briefly this morning and "felt good." He added that Nash is "absolutely trying to play this game tonight, and that's his attitude." Nash will take warm-ups with the team prior to the game and get a better idea of how he's feeling at that time. If he still feels good, he will dress for the game.
- Asked which players have shown significant development in their game this year, Richards pointed to rookies John Moore and Cam Atkinson.
FACEBOOK GIVEAWAY: As a reminder, fans -- be sure to "like" the official Blue Jackets Facebook page for a chance to win two (2) glass seats for tonight's game! Check out the picture below...this could be your view for Fan Apprecation Night at Nationwide Arena:
BLUE JACKETS LINES: The Blue Jackets (pending the status of Rick Nash) will use the same lineup as they did in Thursday night's win over the Avalanche. The defense pairs will remain the same, as well, with Mayorov likely to figure into the top-six forwards this evening.
Here are the projected lines for Columbus:
SKATE UPDATE: The Blue Jackets are on the ice for their morning skate at Nationwide Arena.There's a good crowd of fans here, as well, taking in the final tune-up for tonight's game. Captain Rick Nash, who suffered an undisclosed injury late in Thursday's game in Denver, skated briefly before the full team session began this morning.
Goaltenders on the ice are Steve Mason and Shawn Hunwick. Mason is expected to make his second straight start between the pipes for Columbus. Maksim Mayorov, recalled late yesterday from Springfield (AHL), is on the ice today as well.
"LIKE" FOR A CHANCE TO WIN GLASS SEATS! Fans - be sure to visit the official Blue Jackets Facebook page throughout today and "like" it for your chance to win a pair of glass seats to tonight's game against the Islanders. That's all you have to do for a chance to win! Good luck, and as always, Go Jackets.
GAME DAY: What better way to kick off the final game day of the year than to read the exclusive preview from BlueJackets.com? Get the scouting report on the up-and-coming Islanders, snippets from the official NHL game notes, and more! Click here.
MORNING SKATE 82: Good morning everyone! It's a great day for hockey and we're ready to go here at Nationwide Arena. Tonight is the 82nd and final regular-season contest for the Blue Jackets in the 2011-12 season, and we have TONS planned for our fans on Fan Appreciation Night! First things first - it's time to cover today's morning skate.
Both teams are slated to take the ice (Blue Jackets here in a few minutes, Islanders at 11:30 AM), and the morning skates are open to the public! Come on down to the arena and get a first-hand look at both clubs as they prep for the game.
The Blue Jackets have had some memorable games against the Islanders, including a thrilling overtime win on the Island in November of 2010. Columbus battled back in the third period with R.J. Umberger knotting it up at 3-3, and Jake Voracek supplied the dramatics by scoring the game-winner in overtime.
Keep it locked to the Game Day Blog throughout this beautiful Saturday - you will NOT want to miss what we've got in store for you today!
Interim head coach Todd Richards on Jackets TV before tonight's game against Colorado:
Goaltender Steve Mason talks about tonight's game on Jackets TV:
Center Mark Letestu on Jackets TV:
The Game Breakdown for tonight's game with Bob McElligott and Peter McNab:
MORNING SKATE UPDATE: The Blue Jackets wrapped up their morning skate today at Pepsi Center and are expected to take the same lineup into tonight's game as they did Tuesday against the Coyotes. It's a big game for the Avalanche, who could still be eliminated later tonight (pending the result of the Sharks-Kings game). Colorado needs a lot of help to get into the playoffs, but it won't matter unless they get two points tonight against the Blue Jackets.
One bit of injury news to pass along: goaltender Allen York suffered an injury during the skate and will not play tonight. Interim head coach Todd Richards told the media it's likely York pulled his groin, but added Steve Mason was originally slated to start tonight vs. the Avalanche. Shawn Hunwick will serve as Mason's backup after being a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
Here is the projected lineup for the Blue Jackets this evening:
KNOWING YOUR JACKETS: Three-year-old Joshua Lambert is much like his parents in that he loves numbers, and his dad, Gary, thinks that's where he gets his keen ability to memorize all the players on the Blue Jackets roster -- both by name and number. Joshua recently attended a Blue Jackets practice, got to tour the locker room, and even recited the names of the players right in front of them!
As always, FOX Sports Ohio and Jackets TV were on hand to capture the moment:
TYUTIN'S TRIBUTE: Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin was deeply affected by the tragic plane crash that took the lives of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL) hockey team in September. In order to honor the memory of the players, Tyutin had a special mark sewn on the inside of his hockey gloves - something he refers to every time he takes the ice.
Watch the full story courtesy of FOX Sports Ohio and Jackets TV:
Hello again, Blue Jackets fans and readers of the Game Day Blog! Can you believe it? Tonight marks the 81st game of the regular season and we are officially in the home stretch here. The Blue Jackets are in Denver to take on the Colorado Avalanche for the fourth and final time this season. Colorado won both meetings at Nationwide Arena, but Columbus earned a 2-0 shutout over the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center just after the trading deadline.
The Blue Jackets morning skate should be taking place around 1:30 P.M. ET, so shortly thereafter, we'll have the full slate of game-day information for you. Let's start the day off with highlights of Steve Mason's masterful performance against the Avs back on Mar. 1:
DAVE TIPPETT: Coyotes coach Dave Tippett speaks with the media in advance of tonight's game against the Blue Jackets. Watch the full video below, courtesy of PhoenixCoyotes.com: