Posted by Richard G. Mason
JUNE 29, 2023
COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up the 2023 National Hockey League Draft by selecting seven players during rounds two through seven on Thursday. During the two-day draft, the Blue Jackets used their eight picks to select six forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender.
The Blue Jackets selected center Gavin Brindley, 18, from the University of Michigan in the second round, 34th overall. A native of Estero, Florida, Brindley helped the club capture the Big 10 championship with 12-26-38, 22 penalty minutes and a +21 plus/minus rating in 41 games during his freshman season at Michigan in 2022-23. The 5-9, 168-pound forward tallied 23-41-64 and 51 penalty minutes in 102 career outings with the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League from 2020-22. He was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team in 2020-21 after posting 9-13-22 in 51 contests. He also added 2-7-9 in 15 games in 2021-22 with the U18 team of the United States National Development Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Brindley helped the United States capture a bronze medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships and silver at the 2022 IIHF U18 World Championships.
In the third round, Columbus selected right wing William Whitelaw with the 66th overall pick. The 18-year-old collected 38-26-64 with 100 penalty minutes in 71 career appearances with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL from 2021-23. A native of Rosemount, Minnesota, he was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team after leading the club in goals and points with 36-25-61 in 62 outings in 2022-23. The 5-9, 174-pound winger added 5-4-9 in nine playoff contests to help the Phantoms claim the Clark Cup championship. He is committed to play at the University of Wisconsin for the 2023-24 season.
Columbus held two picks in the fourth round, first selecting defenseman Andrew Strathmann, 18, of the Phantoms (USHL) with the 98th overall pick. The Beach Park, Illinois native helped the Phantoms win the USHL’s Clark Cup in 2022-23 with 3-35-38, 102 penalty minutes and was +11 in 56 regular season games and 3-4-7 in nine playoff appearances. He ranked third-T among all USHL defensemen in assists and eighth in scoring this past season. The 5-11, 187-pound blueliner was named to the USHL All-Rookie Team in 2021-22 after recording 5-18-23 in 61 outings with Tri-City (USHL).
With their second pick in the fourth round, the Blue Jackets selected center Luca Pinelli, 18, from the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League with the 114th overall selection. The 5-9, 168-pound center has recorded 43-56-99 with 102 penalty minutes and a cumulative +24 plus/minus rating in 126 career outings with Ottawa from 2021-23. A native of Stoney Creek, Ontario, Pinelli finished second on the 67’s in goals and points in 2022-23 with 29-34-63 in 67 appearances.
Columbus used its fifth-round pick, 156th overall, to select goaltender Melvin Strahl from MoDo Hockey J20 of Sweden’s junior hockey league (J20 Nationell). The 18-year-old native of Solleftea, Sweden went 10-12-0 with a 3.35 goals-against average and .883 save percentage in 23 appearances with MoDo Hockey’s junior squad in 2022-23. The 6-3, 165-pound goaltender also posted a 9-8-0 record with a 3.12 GAA and .890 SV% in 17 career games with MoDo Hockey’s U18 team from 2021-23.
In the seventh round with the 194th overall pick, the Blue Jackets selected center Oiva Keskinen, 19, from Tappara U20 of Finland’s junior hockey league (SM-sarja). The native of Ylojarvi, Finland has totaled 21-21-42 in 45 career games with Tappara’s junior team from 2021-23. A 6-0, 181-pound center was named to the league’s Second All-Star Team after helping Tappara capture the SM-sarja championship in 2022-23 with 20-21-41 in 38 appearances.
The Blue Jackets acquired a second seventh-round pick, 224th overall, from the Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a 2024 seventh-round pick. With the final selection of the 2023 NHL Draft, Columbus drafted left wing Tyler Peddle, 18, from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. A native of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Peddle has collected 41-35-76 with 58 PIM in 129 career QMJHL appearances with Drummondville from 2021-23. The 6-1, 205-pound forward ranked second on the club in goals and third in points in 2022-23 with 24-17-41 in 64 games.
Blue Jackets Draft Recap: Rd 1 (3) – Adam Fantilli, C (University of Michigan/NCAA), Rd 2 (34) – Gavin Brindley, C (University of Michigan/NCAA), Rd 3 (66) – William Whitelaw, RW (Youngstown/USHL)… Rd 4 (98) – Andrew Strathmann, D (Youngstown/USHL)… Rd 4 (114) – Luca Pinelli, C (Ottawa/OHL)… Rd 5 (156) – Melvin Strahl, G (MoDo Hockey/J20 Nationell)… Rd 7 (194) – Oiva Keskinen, C (Tappara/U20 SM-sarja) )… Rd 7 (224) – Tyler Peddle, LW (Drummondville/QMJHL).
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