The Columbus Blue Jackets have been on a nice run over the last two seasons, winning the fourth most games (95) in the NHL over that span.
After going 45-30-7 this season, the Blue Jackets were bounced in the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions—they’ve still yet to make it out of the first round in four playoff appearances.
Still, they have a great stable of young players already on their NHL roster and a bunch of high-end players under contract long-term. The core of the Blue Jackets will be back in 2019 and the draft will help them bolster an already talented group.
In the 2019 NHL Draft the Blue Jackets have all of their picks in the first three rounds but traded away their fourth for Mark Letestu and their fifth as a part of the Artemi Panarin—Brandon Saad deal.
Most of their former top prospects have made it to the NHL quickly, most notably 2015 No.8 pick Zach Werenski and 2016 No.3 pick Pierre-Luc Dubois. They have a great balance of forwards and defensemen on their NHL roster, which awards them the flexibility to draft the best player available.
With the No.18 Overall Pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets select…
Serron Noel — RW — Canada ????????
At 6-foot-5, 209 lbs. it is hard to believe that Noel is one of the youngest players in this draft class. The Canadian winger is viewed as being a bit “raw” but he has one thing you can’t teach—size. Size has become less and less of a factor in the NHL, but teams still need power forwards who can contribute offensively.
Despite being 6-foot-5, Noel skates very well and handles the puck well for a big-guy. Noel scored 28 goals with 25 assists (53 points) in 62 games with the Oshawa Generals, who finished 10th in the OHL.
No one is expecting Noel to be in the NHL in the next couple of years, but he is a prospect that might be worth the wait. His game will continue to develop in the OHL over the next couple of years and he projects to be a middle-6 winger with great net-front abilities at 5v5 and on the power-play.
Scouts are torn on Noel, with him being ranked anywhere from 16-to-31. I like him to fall between 18-to-21, when the Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks pick—all teams that covet size.
“Noel has a unique combination of abilities in this draft. He’s one of the best athletes in this draft. He tailed off a bit in the second half after opening eyes in the fall, but he’s a 6-foot-5 forward who skates and handles the pick well, which for a player at his size is quite unique. He’s opened my eyes quite often, as you normally don’t see a giant like him as a 17-year-old be able to glide up the ice with the puck and make anything more than a basic play” — Corey Pronman (The Athletic)