Columbus claims Gillies off waivers

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – A day after the Wild placed 2007 first-round pick Colton Gillies on waivers, the Columbus Blue Jackets foiled Minnesota’s plans to send the send the forward to Houston of the AHL by claiming him.

Gillies had two assists in 37 games this season, and coach Mike Yeo said Friday that the 22-year-old’s confidence had been damaged to the point it could not be repaired at the NHL level.

The plan had been to send him to Houston, where he led Yeo’s team there to the Calder Cup Finals last season with seven goals and five assists in 24 playoff games.

“Assuming he clears waivers tomorrow, I think it will be a great opportunity for him to go to Houston and get his game going,” general manager Fletcher said Friday. “He’s a young player, he’s got a great future ahead of him, and I think this is the best for decision for his long-term development.”

Unfortunately for the Wild, if he has a great future, it’ll be with the Blue Jackets organization.

Gillies was the 16th overall pick in 2007 and made it to Minnesota quickly, playing 45 games for the Wild during the 2008-09 season. He had two goals and five assists in those games but played in only seven games for Minnesota last season. This year, he started out on the fourth line and never got going. He averaged only 9 minutes, 10 seconds of ice time per game.

“At first I accepted it (the fourth line role),” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on Saturday.

“At the beginning of the year, I was playing really well. I always had almost like motivation. If I work hard and I show them, I can move up in lines when I get that chance, when there’s injuries. Just like the last little bit, it seemed like they looked at guys and give them chances instead of moving me up. Obviously, it hurt. It’s kind of unmotivating. It was hard. You’ve got to play the best you can with what you’re given. It’s just hard sometimes. That’s all.”