First-round picks: No. 8
2000-01 record: 28-39-9-6, 71 points (tied for 22nd overall)
What they need
After a solid and competitive first season that saw them finish with as many or more points than storied clubs such as Montreal and Chicago, the Blue Jackets will likely look to add some scoring punch to a lineup that featured only one player with more than 20 goals (Geoff Sanderson) and finished 26th in the league in total goals (190).
In the system
Columbus' first-ever draft pick, defenseman Rotislav Klesla (4th overall in '00), started the season with the Blue Jackets (2-0-2 in eight games) before being returned to junior at Brampton (OHL), where he had 18 goals and 54 points in 46 games. Another Ontario Leaguer of note is defenseman Scott Heffernan (138th overall in '00), who had 22 points (2 goals, 20 assists) and a plus-4 rating for the Sarnia Sting.
Shifting to the Western League, right wing Ben Knopp (69th overall in '00) had 22 goals, 56 points, and 105 penalty minutes in 58 games with Moose Jaw,
while goalie Shane Bendera (169th overall in '00) went 32-8-2 with 2.49 GAA and a .902 save percentage for the
Memorial Cup champion Red Deer Rebels.
Left wing Mathieu Darche, a free agent signee last summer out of the Canadian college ranks (McGill University), had a solid first season as a professional with 16 goals and 40 points in 66 games for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch.
Recent draft history
The Jackets' first draft was almost split down the middle between offense and defense -- six of their 11 selections were used on forwards, four on defensemen, and one on a goaltender.