Brandon, MB. -- The National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets have announced the signing of former Brandon Wheat Kings' Captain Ryan Craig.
The 6'2' 220 lb Abbotsbord, B.C. product, who lives in Brandon during the off-season, played five seasons with the Wheat Kings before moving on to both the American Hockey League and NHL. The Blue Jackets will be Craig's third NHL organization, having been drafted by Tampa Bay and spending the past two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
"Columbus has pursued me aggressively to the point where we feel like there’s a good opportunity to go to camp and at some point, whether it’s out of camp or during the year with Springfield, I can earn a shot to play in the National Hockey League," Craig told the Brandon Sun this week. "I think they are an organization that didn’t have a great year last year and there is a bit of uncertainty and they have some moves to make with Rick Nash and hopefully there’s a good opportunity for me. And my job is to make sure I make the most of it."
An eighth-round draft pick (255th overall) of the Lightning in 2002, Craig scored 15 goals and notched 28 points in 48 NHL games in 2005-06 and added 14 goals and 27 points in 72 games the following season before being slowed by knee and back problems.
During the 2011-12 campaign, Craig scored eleven goals and 30 points with the AHL's Penguins.
Craig will join another former Brandon captain in Columbus' camp this September. Matt Calvert spent most of last season in Springfield. However, he did play thirteen games with the Jackets.
During his 5-year WHL career in Brandon, Craig scored 137 goals and 268 points in 302 games. He is currently seventh on the Wheat Kings' all time list for games played.