While putting together this piece I spent many hours watching tape on the top players for this draft. Watching these games can often times be a fruitless endeavor especially when a lot of these players are so significantly better than their counterparts that at times it isn’t even fair. Nonetheless, I tried to evaluate the players based on their skills and perceived intangibles.
At first I intended to make a mock draft and make selections based on the needs of each team in the draft. Undertaking such a task wouldn’t just be extremely in depth but knowledge of these players would be needed over the years to see their adjustments under different coaches and growth as players. I am going to go over players I believe are either pegged to the Blue Jackets or should be taken by them. The number next to their name is a rank from Corey Pronman NHL Draft Expert for ESPN.
These two players I am listing are unattainable with the Blue Jackets current draft position but are players I believe to be well worth trading up for.
Aaron Ekblad #1
Defenseman 6’4 216 lbs
In my opinion Aaron Ekblad is far and away the best player in this draft. Watching his games time and time again he sticks out for his strong simple plays that often would be difficult for others; he makes them with relative ease. While listed at 6’4 he doesn’t often strike you at times as a player who is so large, that’s not to say he doesn’t use his body well but he is so skilled offensively that you’d expect a player of a smaller stature. The ceiling on him is extremely high and I believe he could very well be an elite defenseman in the NHL. At the bare minimum, I believe you can get an above average top 4 defensemen, which in today’s NHL is a god send. When taking a defenseman first overall in this era it evokes the thoughts of Erik Johnson who thus far has had a very average career and proven to be serviceable this year with the Avalanche. While I see the possibility of Ekblad being pigeonholed into that role it truly isn’t fair to him as a player. Being the first player granted exceptional status since John Tavares, he has been playing above his head for quite a while and has done remarkably well. He will more than likely be a top three selection in this year’s draft and it will take a mini haul to acquire the draft pick necessary to grab him. While it will take a lot to grab him it is also worth noting that the Panthers, the owners of the number one pick,are shopping the pick to teams for proven talent. RJ Umberger comes to the forefront when thinking of a possible trade.
Michael Dal Colle #8
Left Wing 6’2 172 lbs
While watching Dal Colle play you notice a former line mate of his, Boone Jenner and how eerily similar they are to one another. While seeing how great Boone has been this year Dal Colle is even better. While Boone is more of a bull Dal Colle has the necessary size to push around a defender but he doesn’t need to due to his skating and above average hands. Other than being former line mates and being similar in size and speed the comparisons end there. He is a better scorer than Boone was in the O and a significantly better skater then he was at a similar point in time. While Boone has a continuous motor that helps out with his offensive skill Dal Colle makes it almost seem effortless. He reminds me an awful lot of Rick Nash with a better two way potential. A player who is so naturally skilled that when he is trying hard many times you can’t even tell he is working his tail off. Dal Colle is going to be a top ten selection in this year’s draft and it isn’t hard to see why with the amount of potential dripping off of this great young player
The next group of players are players more so in the Blue Jackets selection range according to Pronman and are significantly more attainable.
Sonny Milano #12
Center/Left Wing 5’11 185 lbs
Sonny has played most of his high school years for the USNTDP and has excelled in his time with them. When on the ice you can see why many are quite high on his offensive skill. He has above average vision and outstanding hands. The knock on his game is that he isn’t a ‘complete’ player whatever that may mean, with players at this age if molded correctly he can and will round out his game. Another concern that may turn away the Blue Jackets is that he is fairly small and will need to fill out his frame to get it NHL ready. Sonny will be playing at Boston College next season where their won’t be any free passes even if he is a first round pick. It should be interesting though to see how he does next season without perennial top prospect Jack Eichel. You will be made to look like a fantastic passer if every single time you pass the puck your counterpart puts it in the back of the net.
Robby Fabbri #15
Center 5’10 165 lbs
Fabbri, the line mate of CBJ draft pick Kerby Rychel, with Guelph Storm would make Fabbri a very interesting selection. They had great chemistry and took the team to the Memorial Cup final this past year. Fabbri, like Milano, are both the types of players that would be up so much higher on the draft rankings if only they were a few inches taller. He is solid defensively much more so than Milano, the main concern though when comparing Milano and Fabbri is Milano seems to have an extremely high ceiling meanwhile with Fabbri you don’t know how much more you will be able to get out of him. Now when saying that it makes it sound like he doesn’t have much more growth to his game but in reality he is just so solid all the way around that he really just isn’t as flashy as Milano. Fabbri wouldn’t be a bad selection by any means but it would most definitely be a safe selection by the Blue Jackets.
If you have any questions in regards to other prospects feel free to send emails to BlazerSchillingHockey@gmail.com and we will gladly answer it in a post. Part Two will be coming tomorrow with some players that are considered reaches but could very well be great fits for the CBJ.