Hello all! In a previous post in which I somewhat ripped apart Hockeysfuture’s top 20 prospects, I threw out the idea of periodically doing a top 10 or 20 prospects. With the teams European prospects already in camp, and the CHL getting started soon, figured I’d better get to it. Here’s the list with players’ previous rankings. As a disclaimer, I’ve said before I don’t like HF’s criteria of what qualifies as a prospect – if I was using their criteria Cam Atkinson and Dalton Prout, among other Jackets, would be on this list. My criteria is simply if I keep track of them and, as for the rankings, I’ll be honest with you, I’m not sure which I’m giving more weight to: talent or NHL readiness, perhaps it’s simply a combination of both. So without further ado, here we go.
1. Ryan Murray (1)
2. Boone Jenner (2)
3. Alexander Wennberg (NR)
4. Kerby Rychel (NR)
5. Oscar Dansk (3)
6. Marko Dano (NR)
7. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault (4)
8. Anton Forsberg (10)
9. Cody Goloubef (7)
10. Joonas Korpisalo (6)
11. Mike Reilly (8)
12. Micheal Chaput (12)
13. David Savard (11)
14. Daniel Zaar (14)
15. Dillon Heatherington (NR)
16. Oliver Bjorkstrand (NR)
17. Sean Collins (15)
18. Lukas Sedlak (13)
19. Gianluca Curcuruto (20)
20. Josh Anderson (18)
1. Ryan Murray
Despite the Jackets strong draft, Ryan Murray remains the team’s top prospect who will make his pro-debut this season as he is eligible for the AHL. I’ve been preaching this for awhile – my philosophy with prospects is put them where they’ll play the most. Along those lines, would you rather have him getting 3rd pair / 7 Dman minutes in Columbus or top 4 (if not top pair) minutes in Springfield? Given this quandry, it’s worthwhile to consider the recent Jackets signing of Dman Ilari Melart, (the Finnish Monster, or Mustakrakish) who I believe would be perfect for the 7th man spot in the big club.
2. Boone Jenner
Like Murray, Boone stays in the same spot from my previous ranking. Boone is the team’s top forward prospect and is a true jack of all trades being able to play all three positions and anywhere in the lineup. He’d be in the same boat as Murray playing third line minutes (which I’d be fine with) and possibly moving up and down in the lineup as needed in the NHL while playing in all situations in Springfield.
3. Alexander Wennberg
Wennberg is the first of five new players entering my top 20. Wennberg joins Lukas Sedlak and Michael Chaput as part of the Jackets’ stable of strong two way centers, and he is more than likely the most talented of the bunch. Wennberg will be changing teams this season joining Frolunda of the SHL after playing with Djurgardens IF last season in Allsvenskan (Sweden’s lower league).
4. Kerby Rychel
Kerby is another 2013 pick and probably the Jackets top goal scoring threat amongst its prospects. Rychel was the only draft eligible player with back to back 40 goal seasons. Kerby has a lethal wrist shot and manned the point on the Spitfires power play. Along with the goal scoring, Kerby is not afraid to drop the gloves taking after his father, former NHL-er Warren Rychel.
5. Oscar Dansk
Dansk is the team’s top goalie prospect despite still being at least two to three years away from making an impact in Columbus. Oscar is hoping for a bounce back season after struggling with an inexperienced Otters team and dealing with injuries throughout the season. Dansk should return to the Swedish National Team at the World Junior Championships which Sweden is hosting. We’ll hopefully see Oscar playing after serving as the third goalie in the lineup last season.
6. Marko Dano
Dano was a bit of a surprise at the draft but the Austrian/Slovakian played in the KHL as a 17 year old and also put on a show at the World Juniors. Dano is a smaller player but he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas. There were stories that Marko may come over to North America after the draft to play in either Springfield or possibly Prince George of the WHL, but we haven’t heard anything more on it.
7. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
The Falcons top offensive weapon is the only NHL signed player to be among the AHL’s top 10 scorers the last two seasons. Last year, JAM made his NHL debut getting into two games. Now obviously they are polar opposites in terms of, well, everything, but with a top six spot being open with Nathan Horton out until December, JAM may get a longer look from the big club this season.
8. Anton Forsberg
Anton was one of the few prospects that rose in my rankings after his strong play in Allsvenskan last year earned him a contract with the CBJ. Despite not being the team’s top goalie prospect in my eyes, he is probably the closest to making an impact either in the AHL or NHL and more than likely he will be making his North American debut next season. After being loaned to Sodrtalje SK last season, Anton is back with MODO this season likely as the team’s number one goalie.
9. Cody Goloubef
Cody will probably be battling with Ryan Murray and Ilari Melart for the Jacket’s seventh defenseman spot. If he doesn’t make the team he could be the team’s first call up on D. My only concern with Cody is that he has been somewhat injury prone having played in only 38 games last season and 48 the year before.
10. Joonas Korpisalo
Another goalie in my Jackets top 20. Korpisalo versus Dansk is a potential battle as both were selected in the same year but are taking different paths to the NHL. Joonas will be playing with the Jokerit organization, likely serving as the number one goalie for the J20 team and Jokerit’s minor league team Kiekko-Vantaa “The Mighty Fishes”(name made up by me). Joonas will also play for Finland’s entry in the World Junior Championships.
11. Mike Reilly
Despite being the farthest from making a impact of all the Jackets defensemen prospects, Mike is also probably the most skilled among them. Mike helped Team USA win gold at the World Junior Championships last year. The small blueliner will return to Minnesota this season as the second leading scorer amongst returning Dmen.
12. Michael Chaput
As I said above, Michael is one of the Jackets young talented two way centers with his forte being at the faceoff dot. Chaput struggled during the lockout but once the NHL got the season rolling, he found his game scoring 26 of his 32 points. Chaput also led AHL rookies with 12 points in January. Chaput could be one of the Falcons top centers next season possibly making his NHL debut after being emergency recalled but not playing last season.
13. David Savard
Much like last time I had to be persuaded to include Savard in this list. I (and probably most Jackets fans) believe that his one year deal signed this summer is his last chance. Savard’s development has seemed to stall, as he was passed by many of the Jackets young dmen and was called out publicly by JD: “David Savard has something to offer. I think he has a future. But only if he commits himself better than he has.” This chain of events led to some improvement but I believe most of us remember a game in which Savard looked completely lost out there.
14. Daniel Zaar
Zaar one of the more unknown prospects playing in Sweden’s lower league but could be the Jacket’s best potential sniper. Zaar has a lethal wrist shot that he can snap off nonchalantly. I remember from the first day of Development Camp Zaar took a stride or two on the ice from the bench, grabbed a puck and snapped it top corner. Zaar will return to Rogle this season and could be teamed up with top 2014 draft prospect William Nylander (Michael’s son, feel old folks?). Daniel could join Oscar and Alexander on the Swedish National Team after teaming with Wennberg in the Swede’s top line after Sebastian Collberg suffered an injury.
15. Dillon Heatherington
“The Big Horse”. Ok I kid, that’s not his nickname but it works with his 6’3″ frame and playing for the Swift Current Broncos. The big blueliner takes over Dalton Prout’s (graduated in my opinion) spot as the Blue Jackets top defensive defenseman prospects passing Will Weber (really the only other pure Dman in the organization). Unlike Weber, Heatherington brings some offense having picked up 27 points in 71 games last year. According to a writer I follow, Dillon has a chance of being the Broncos captain next season and could play for Team Canada at the World Juniors.
16. Oliver Bjorkstrand
The Jackets “Great Dane”. Ok, he’s just the only player from Denmark to be drafted by or play (potentially) for the Blue Jackets. Bjorkstrand has goal scoring in his genes as his father Todd was a four time 50-goal scorer in Denmark. Bjorkstrand will receive an increase in ice time with the Portland Winterhawks this year along with opportunity as 110 point scorer Ty Rattie went pro. This also sets Oliver up to possibly line up with one of the Winterhawks’ 120 point scorers in centers Nic Petan and Brendan Leipsec. Oliver’s skating needs work but scouts in THN’s draft preview said he finds a way to get to the net. Bjorkstrand will also play for Denmark at the 2014 U20 World Championship Division I Group A playing against Latvia, Belarus, Slovenia, Austria, Poland.
17. Sean Collins
I like to call Sean Collins “the new Andrew Murray” as they are very similar big two-way forwards that can play all three forward positions and have worked their ways up to the NHL. Of course Collins’ route to the NHL was much quicker but you can see what I mean. Collins made it into five games last season and didn’t look out of place. He is another forward that could get a long look in camp.
18. Lukas Sedlak
Sedlak will make his pro debut this season after playing in the QMJHL for the last two seasons as an import. Sedlak is, as I said above, a strong two way center who, like Chaput, can win faceoffs. Sedlak will probably start as the Falcons third or fourth line center possibly playing wing but he’s a natural center. Lukas is another player with injury concerns as he never played more than 50 games the last two seasons.
19. Gianluca Curcuruto
Gianluca possesses something that none of the other Jackets D prospects have and that’s a bomb from the point. Gianluca’s main tactic for setting a career high in points last season was firing a blast and a teammate would either tip it in or pick up a rebound. Gianluca will return to the Plymouth Whaler’s blueline as one of the team’s top blueliners if not its number one Dman. The Whalers should remain the cream of the OHL’s Western Conference crop (if it wasn’t for that team in London).
20. Josh Anderson
Josh could be the Jackets’ top power forward prospect as he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas to score goals and not afraid to drop the mitts (your best prospect fight award winner Ladies and Gentlemen). Josh put career highs in every statistical category last season playing normally on Canucks first rounder Bo Horvat’s wing. I always clarify that when talking about Josh, he plays on the mighty London Knights – one of the top programs in the CHL. The Knights normally lure top players including Habs first rounder Michael McCarron (who if he’s on a line with Josh could be destructive/awesome-MM is huge) who broke a commitment with Western Michigan to play in London. Josh will play in his third straight Memorial Cup this year as the Knights host the tournament earning an automatic bid.
There you have it folks – my take on the Jackets top 20 prospects. As I said before, I may update this list periodically during the season or something along those lines. We’re getting close to the start of the season — we’re only three weeks away (8/15) from the start of the Traverse City Prospect Tournament that I’ll be live tweeting/ offering game recaps for the third year. Stay tuned for those updates and more!