With the Blue Jackets prospects’ seasons right around the corner, I thought I’d give you a two part preview on all the CHL, NCAA and European Prospects. The first part of the series will focus on the CHL and European players. Along with my usual stuff, I’ve asked a few of the writers I follow to help me out.
Starting off in the CHL, the Jackets have nine total prospects, but five of them have options. By options, I mean they can play pro hockey or go back to juniors. Those five are Boone Jenner, Dalton Smith, Michael Chaput, Austin Madaisky and 2nd overall pick Ryan Murray. Of those five, Jenner and Murray are in the same boat as Ryan Johansen last season, as they can only play in the NHL or juniors. For this preview, I’m only going to focus on the guys that will spend the whole season in the CHL or Europe.
ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Jackets have five prospects that can play in the Ontario Hockey League, with three being locks, one that would probably have to have a MONSTER of a training camp to play in Columbus, and one that can play in either the AHL or OHL. The three locks are goalie Oscar Dansk, forward Josh Anderson and defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto. Boone Jenner needs a big camp to make the Jackets, and last but not least is Dalton Smith, who can either play in Springfield or go back to Ottawa for one more year.
Team: Erie Otters
Acquired: 2012 Draft 2/31
11-12 Stats 28GP 2.82 GAA .910 SV% 2 shutouts with Brynas Jr. of the Swedish Jr League
Oscar Dansk was selected third overall in the CHL Import Draft by Erie after pretty much every writer said he was going to be selected by either London or Windsor. Dansk is expected to be a workhorse for the Otters, who are coming off a 10 win season. This includes one game in which a forward had to play goal because both goalies were hurt. Dansk will probably miss some Otters games in December and January, as he should be one of Sweden’s goalies at the World Junior Championships in Russia. Before any Dansk parties (get ready for a lot of these jokes) can commence however, Oscar has to get over a knee injury suffered while playing for Sweden in Lake Placid this summer. This will be Dansk’s second trip to North America after spending 2007-2010 at the hockey factory Shattuck’s St Mary’s in Minnesota having a GAA under 2.00 including a 1.43 in 2008-09.
Team: London Knights
Acquired: 2012 Draft 4/95
11-12 Stats 64GP 12-10-22
Josh was the Jacket’s fourth round pick in the most recent NHL draft. A lot of fans didn’t like the pick considering some of the names available, but after all the things I’ve read about Josh, I think he’ll surprise you. He’s is related to Frank and Peter Mahovlich, two NHL legends that combined for 2019 points in their NHL careers. Frank was even named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981. As I said before, I got some help on these from writers that cover the teams. I’ll now turn the floor over to John Matisz, who covers the Knights for Metro London:
“Josh Anderson was scooped up by the Hunter brothers out of Ontario major midget after being looked over by most scouts in his OHL draft season. He was about 5-foot-8 when he played for Burlington’s midget team, which turned scouts off, but went through a growth spurt over the summer (penciled in around 6-foot when he arrived in training camp last year). This year, Anderson is 6-foot-2, 193 pounds. As for his role, it’ll be dramatically different in 2012-13. Throughout the pre-season, he’s been used heavily during even-strength situations, and is now a part of the special teams units (both PK and PP). There was just too much talent ahead of him before; there was no room for him to move up the ladder. Now, Anderson will receive top six minutes in his sophomore season, barring any major developments. He needs to work on his finishing touch, but should put in 20-30 goals by the end of the season.”
Team: Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 2011 Draft 2/37
11-12 Stats 43GP 22-27-49 +12 59PIM
For Josh and Oscar I gave you a little of me, but Boone will be handeld by Shawn Cayley, who covers the Generals for Oshawa This Week and Durhamregion.com.
While the Oshawa Generals enter the 2012-13 Ontario Hockey League season with many questions surrounding the club, the role of captain Boone Jenner isn’t one of them. The fourth-year forward and second-year captain will once again be counted on to lead the way for the Generals this season, both on and off the ice. And no doubt he is fitted for such a role. Jenner will look to lead the Generals back to respectability this season after a tumultuous 2011-12 season that saw the club just scratch into the playoffs before being ousted in the first round by the Niagara IceDogs. Not surprisingly, his season was in some sense, a microcosm of his team’s season. A second round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Jenner entered the season on a high after being named captain of the Generals, a team many thought would be contenders in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. He had a strong first half and then played an important role for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships. When in the Generals lineup, Jenner on pace for his best offensive output through three OHL seasons, scoring 22 goals and 49 points in just 43 games. However, his year was derailed by a concussion that saw him miss some significant time. Jenner did appear to bounce back from that quite well, though, leading the Generals with 11 points in their aforementioned six-game series with Niagara. So to that effect he ended his season on somewhat of a high personally, though his team did not. Oshawa opens its regular season next week and big things will once again be expected from Jenner. He’ll be looked as the unquestioned leader, both through his captaincy and on the scoresheet where he heads a group of talented forwards including fellow NHL prospects Scott Laughton (Philadelphia), Lucas Lessio (Phoenix) and Tyler Biggs (Toronto) among others. A new regime is heading the hopeful turnaround in Oshawa with Jeff Twohey in at general manager and D.J. Smith as coach and Jenner’s efforts this season — likely his last in the OHL — will go along way in determining whether their introduction to the city will be a positive one.”
Team: Plymouth Whalers
Acquired 2012 Draft 7/182
11-12 Stats 63GP 3-13-16 -14 36PIM with Sault Ste Marie(OHL)
Curcuruto was drafted from the Soo Greyhounds, but that’s changed since the June draft. Gianluca was traded from the bottom-feeding Hounds to the Plymouth Whalers, one of the top teams in the OHL’s Western Conference. Everything I read makes it sound like this trade will help Curcuruto, who was a projected first round NHL draft pick in the preseason but dropped all the way to 160. This deal should help him, as he is not only going to a better team but he’ll be playing on the top pairing. Part of the reason for his drop at the draft is his decision-making, as he looks lost at times. However, according to The Prospects Blog (linked above) and a OHL writer I spoke with, Curcuruto simplified his game in the second half of the season and looked more composed. One of Curcuruto’s strengths is his shot from the point, that he keeps low allowing for tip ins or rebounds. This helped Curcuruto score three goals in only two Whalers preseason games.
QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
After having four prospects in the QMJHL last year, it is down to one this season with another player having the option to play in either the Q or the AHL. The returnee is Czech import Lukas Sedlak, with Memorial Cup Tournament MVP Michael Chaput having the ability to play pro. I have Chaput spending the season in Springfield with a possibilty of him making his NHL debut.
Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Acquired 2011 Draft 6/158
11-12 Stats 50GP 17-28-45 +24 57PIM
This will be Lukas Sedlak’s second season in North America and according to reports from my source he’s in the exact same place as last season, centering the Sags’ top line. Sedlak will play with 2010 QMJHL rookie of the year Charles Hudon, and the Sag’s leading scorer the last two years Guillaume Asselin. According to Dave Ainsley of Le Quotidien, that trio has some high expectations this season even though Hudon will miss a month with an injury. Sedlak will more than likely miss some time in December and January, as he will likely be making his second appearance with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships.
In addition to last year’s WJC, Lukas played this summer with the Czech National team. One thing that has the Jacket’s excited about Sedlak (#8) is how well Sedlak adapted to the North American game. This is something of a make or break year for Sedlak, as it is after this season the Jackets have to decide whether to sign him or he’ll re-enter the NHL draft.
It seems odd after using their last two first round picks on WHL players that the Jackets could have no prospects playing in the league this season. Top prospect Ryan Murray will at least start the year (if the lockout happens) in Everett, Washington serving as captain of the Silvertips for the third season (two and a half if you want to get technical). The other player with the WHL as an option is defenseman Austin Madaisky. With the other D options that could play in Springfield I’d almost rather have Austin head back to Kamloops. In his 20-year-old season, he could become the Blazer’s captain after serving as an alternate the last two years and as a captain in the one preseason game he’s played in.
The Blue Jackets have three prospects playing in Europe with two of them being goaltenders. Playing in Sweden are forward Daniel Zaar and goaltender Anton Forsberg, while playing over in Finland is goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
Team: Rögle Bk J20
Acquired 2012 Draft 6/152
11-12 Stats 44GP 14-24-38 +6 28PIM with Rögle BK J20
Daniel Zaar, who impressed a lot of fans at rookie camp, will be playing with the Rögle J20 team with a possibility of playing with the main Rogle club. According to Jonas Lindeblad, who blogs about the team, it will take injuries with the big club for Zaar to make his Elitserien debut. I take this as a good thing, as with the J20, Zaar is a top line player seeing lots of power play time, while with the big club he’d barely play. An example would be the last preseason game: he played in which he saw the ice for a whopping two minutes. The J20 league in Sweden could be the most confusing season setup ever, with only the first half of the season being set. The second half opponents and number of games aren’t set until January.
Team: Södertälje SK(on loan from MODO)
Acquired 2011 Draft 7/188
11-12 Stats 14GP 3.05GAA .900Sv% with MODO 8GP 2.36GAA .914 1SO with MODO J20
Anton Forsberg was like many CBJ goalie prospects last season, as he bounced between leagues, sometimes even during the same week. This year should be more stable as Forsberg (no relation to Peter for those asking, it’s like Baker over there) as he’s been loaned to Södertälje SK of HockeyAllsvenskan (Sweden’s tier 2 league). Now according to my SSK source Johan Myberg, it’s still up in the air who will start the opener especially with Forsberg getting sick during the last week of preseason. As a 19-year-old last season, Forsberg was stuck behind ex-NHL goalie Mikael Tellqvist. Forsberg only got into eight SEL games, posting a 3.05 GAA and a .900Sv%. However, he had better numbers while playing with the junior team.
Acquired 2012 Draft 3/62
11-12 Stats 38GP 2.04GAA .920SV%
Joonas Korpisalo was drafted twice this summer, by the Jackets in the NHL draft and by the WHL’s Prince George Cougars as the fifth pick in the CHL’s Import Draft. However Joonas decided to stay in Finland, signing a two-year deal with Jokerit. With the Jesters, Joonas will be either the backup to Eero Kilpelainen or down with its minor league affiliate Kiekko-Vantaa, where he will be the starter. I would put this in the same boat as Zaar (discussed above). I would rather see him spend the whole season with the fish(KV) than sitting for long stretches. Joonas also has a chance to be one of Finland’s goalies at the World Juniors after playing for them at the 4 Nations Tournament this summer.
There you have it folks, a preview of the Jackets prospects playing in the CHL and Europe. Ill be back in a few weeks to preview the Jackets prospects playing in the NCAA. As always to be kept up to date on all the CBJ prospects follow @CBJProspects on twitter.