Boyd on Boyd
A discussion with the Blue Jackets CBJ Director of Player Personnel Don Boyd
Melissa Boyd: What is the Blue Jackets’ strategy heading into this draft?
Don Boyd: We draft the best player available. We don’t draft by position, it is most important to get the talent and the skill and to trade for position needs along the way. We will pick the best player available and will look closely at players that we think can play sooner rather than later. We will try and draft a player with a strong work ethic and draft a player that we think will fit into our professional culture and the culture in our dressing room..
Melissa Boyd:Who are the top European prospects in this draft?
Don Boyd: There are a number of them. Nicklas Backstrom is the top-rated European player out of Sweden and there are the top-two Czech players by the name of Jiri Tlusty and Michael Frolik that, combined with the top North American players, round out basically the top-10 players available. Those three are at the top of the list and then you have the Russian players Yuri Alexandrov and Artem Anisimov and Patrik Berglund out of Sweden. In the top 15 or 20 picks, you probably have about five or six Europeans that can be considered there.
Melissa Boyd: How does the upcoming draft compare to the past few drafts?
Don Boyd: I think every draft is different and obviously this year there are not a lot of defensemen in this draft. So by that nature alone it is different. There are some high end skill level and a lot of two-way hockey players in this draft. I think people have to keep in mind that there are a certain number of players that are selected that are going to play in the National Hockey League and they can come from the first round or the seventh, so you have to have a strong draft throughout. Look at the Ducks in the 2003 Draft they got Ryan Getzlaf with the 19th pick and Corey Perry with the 28th and both are National Hockey Players. Some drafts are deeper than others and this one is kind of a middle of the road draft.
Melissa Boyd:The consensus on this year’s draft appears to be that there is no superstar but solid players near the top, would you agree?
Don Boyd: Well obviously there is no Sidney Crosby and there is no Alexander Oveckhin or even Evgeny Malkin from the years before or an Eric Staal or Rick Nash. But having said that, Jordan Staal is pretty good and Erik Johnson has a chance to be a star in this league. I think the top nine players have a shot at being real impact players in the National Hockey League and there is always going to be somebody that is taken later that surprises people and ends up being better than a lot of the players at the top. The front end of the draft is still pretty good though.
Melissa Boyd: How involved are you in pushing for trades on draft day?
Don Boyd: I don’t push for trades on draft day, but if something comes along that is advantageous to the Blue Jackets, we will look at it very seriously and very hard. If it is a player that is currently at the NHL level, we will defer to the pro scouts because of their intimate knowledge of the player. Our pro guys have seen them play, so you have to rely on what they have seen to follow through on a trade possibility. At this point I would be more of a background guy with knowledge of the past, rather than the present. If it is something that will make us a better hockey club, both for the present and for the future, I would, of course, recommend that we take a look at it. We look at everything that comes along.
Melissa Boyd: Where is the draft strongest in terms of position?
Don Boyd: Generically speaking it would be the forward position rather than the defensemen. There are some top six forwards that will be in the top 10 picks, realistically there is only one real top defenseman (Johnson). A majority of the players available play center and a lot of those will be converted to a wing in the National Hockey League.
Melissa Boyd: Evaluate your past six drafts.
Don Boyd: I have a very biased opinion but we have done great. Certainly picking early has helped us but we have seen a lot of our draft picks continue to progress and to become National Hockey League players or close to it. Gilbert Brule and Aaron Johnson are looking like NHL players and Rick Nash of course, we traded up to get him and that was a great move on our part. We have a young kid in Nikolai Zherdev that could be a super star along the way here as far as puck skills, creativity and offensive flare is concerned. I think we have filled a lot of needs as well and Rostislav Klesla, our first pick ever is starting to show what he is capable of. We have done well early. Could we have done better, yeah, but when I look at it we probably would have done it about the same as the players selected behind us has made about the same impact that our players have. So all in all, we have done well as a staff.