EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first installment of a two-part conversation with Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson in advance of this year’s NHL Draft, to be held June 30 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Rob Mixer of BlueJackets.com sat down with JD to cover a variety of topics, including draft strategy, free agency and more.
BLUEJACKETS.COM: With a compacted offseason schedule and everything happening in a shorter amount of time (couple with a new “talking” period prior to free agency), what do you expect from a league perspective as we get closer to the draft?
DAVIDSON: I think it’s going to be busy starting just prior to the draft. There’s going to be a lot of things starting to happen around that time. There’s a lot of dialogue going on right now between general managers and there’s a general managers meeting in Boston (during the Stanley Cup Final), and there will be a lot of dialogue there. We’ve already seen Philadelphia make a deal with the Islanders (for free agent defenseman Mark Streit). So it’s starting…it’s a little bit later, I agree with that, but it’s still business as usual. For us not making the playoffs, we’ve had some time to really dig into all of this stuff.
BLUEJACKETS.COM: After seeing what the team went through this past season and growing together with a mix of young players and veterans, does it make your approach and strategy clearer knowing what kind of player will fit in with this group?
DAVIDSON: Exactly. When you analyze which teams are winning the playoffs, how they’re winning and why they’re winning, you analyze trends to see what teams have in their lineups that do well. You’re always on the lookout and try to be open-minded, and check things out in that respect. I think for us, we’ve defined our club as one that won’t be out-worked, and that was one of our real, true qualities – it wasn’t just lip service. We don’t want that to change, we just want a little more offensive punch and players that are allowed to run out there on the ice offensively but maintain the defensive posture and work habits that you need to win.
BLUEJACKETS.COM: A brief update on Ryan Murray?
DAVIDSON: He’s doing real well, he's doing very well. His shoulder’s back to 100 percent. By the time September comes around, he's going to be a well-conditioned young man.
BLUEJACKETS.COM: Having Ryan here for development camp and then in training camp with a chance to make the team, is it almost like adding a free agent?
DAVIDSON: It's like (adding) a free agent with no experience and we have to respect that. It's a tough position, a very tough position and things aren't easy in this league. This league gets better every year; it's better than it was two years ago, three years ago, five years ago...and that's because of the players. For a young defenseman to come in, we expect good things, we want good things. But it's never easy.
BLUEJACKETS.COM: Obviously, the primary topic of conversation right now is Sergei Bobrovsky and the Vezina Trophy, but goaltending is really becoming a position of strength in the organization. Do you like where you sit with goaltending in the long-term right now?
DAVIDSON: Absolutely. At our development camp coming up here, we’re going to take a good look at some of the goalies we have. We’re still working on getting Bob signed; it’s something we’re going to try very hard to get done and we feel comfortable that it will get done. We also have Curtis McElhinney here and we’re still looking for another goaltender, either NHL or Springfield because you’ve got to have three. We’re weighing our options there, and we’ll get that taken care of as we move along.
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