Amateur scouting meetings hold extra importance this year
The Blue Jackets are well aware how important the upcoming 2013 draft is to their future.
Two blockbuster trades in the past nine months have landed Columbus with two additional first-round picks in the draft, which will be held this summer at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. And while that date isn't part of the immediate future, the planning has already begun.
Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson, in his fourth week on the job, is in Toronto with the team's amateur scouting staff for its annual meetings.
It's one of his first opportunities to get to know the staff, learn about the players they have interest in, and start to formulate a game plan for the remainder of the draft year.
But more than anything, it's a chance for Davidson to roll up his sleeves and get down to business with the Blue Jackets.
"These meetings are important and they will be all winter long," Davidson told BlueJackets.com. "I want to get to know everybody and I want to watch them work. We’re going to see some (junior) games up here at night and meet during the day.
"What happens is, knowing where we pick – especially our first four picks – we know we’ve got players that we need to zero in on, and they already have. Now I’ll be a part of that."
Along with GM Scott Howson and director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, Davidson and other members of the staff took in the London Knights' 4-3 overtime win over the Oshawa Generals on Thursday night at Budweiser Gardens in London.
While watching games and evaluating players is a big part of his job, Davidson said getting a feel for the process is of utmost importance this weekend.
"It’s about getting to know each other, understanding each other and getting a real strong feeling of how we’re getting to go get the job done," he said.
That job is an exciting one for the amateur staff, who (at this point) has three picks in the first round and four total picks in the first two rounds.
Given the consensus around the hockey world that this year's draft is one of the deepest in recent years, the Blue Jackets and Davidson know there's a lot of work to be done if they want the best possible players in Columbus.
Davidson's philosophy is "one brick at a time," and he has not been shy in saying that his plan is to build the Blue Jackets into a winner by way of the draft.
"Thankfully it’s a deep draft -- that’s a very good thing," Davidson said. "It’s up to us, knowing that, to make sure we’re ready to find the best players available when our picks come around. You never know who’s going to go ahead of you, but we have to be ready to move up, move down, back or forward.
"We have to know what we need and which players fit that. As the season marches along here, we’ll know about character and character is so much a big part of drafting players. You hear the rhetoric a lot, but we’ve really got to get it done."