Greetings all! With the calendar flipping and the World Junior Championships finished I thought it was time to update my Top 20 list from before the season started. First things first, here’s the previous top 20.
1. Ryan Murray
2. Boone Jenner
3. Alexander Wennberg
4. Kerby Rychel
5. Oscar Dansk
6. Marko Dano
7. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
8. Anton Forsberg
9. Cody Goloubef
10. Joonas Korpisalo
11. Mike Reilly
12. Micheal Chaput
13. David Savard
14. Daniel Zaar
15. Dillon Heatherington
16. Oliver Bjorkstrand
17. Sean Collins
18. Lukas Sedlak
19. Gianluca Curcuruto
20. Josh Anderson
Three players from this list will be graduating as they have spent all season with the Jackets. Those three are obviously Ryan Murray, Boone Jenner and David Savard (who I no longer have to be talked into putting in my top 20). Other than those three, there will be some movement and one prospect is dropping off due to injuries. I’ve also had a heck of a time getting info from Finland this season. So without further ado – let’s go. Season stats are as of 1/15/14.
1. Alexander Wennberg-Frolunda (SHL) Previous Rank 3
Season Stats 34GP 13-4-17 -1 6PIM
Alexander was probably the Jackets top prospect before the WJC but his strong play in the tournament solidified his status as the top prospect. Alexander was one of Sweden’s top forwards – even being named one of the team’s top players as selected by the coaches. Alexander is currently second among SHL junior players (rookies) in points and goals, and leads the rookies in power play goals. Alexander has played mostly wing in the SHL but played as the Swede’s top line center at the World Juniors. It was reported during the WJC that Jarmo said during an interview that he’d like to sign Alexander before next season.
2. Kerby Rychel-Guelph Storm (OHL) Previous Rank 4
Season Stats 33GP 19-29-48 +20 21PIM
Some may think Kerby’s lackluster performance at the World Juniors is reason to be concerned but I don’t think we need to worry about this. Kerby is ahead of his scoring pace from last season after 30 games but this is the first time Kerby has missed any games since his 16 year old season. Kerby’s trade to Guelph will also help his performance as the Storm is expected to make a deep playoff/Memorial Cup run. Kerby could join the Springfield Falcons after Guelph’s season and can play in the AHL next season
3. Oscar Dansk-Erie Otters (OHL) Previous Rank 5
Season Stats 24GP 19-3-1-0 1.97GAA .928SV% 6SO
Oscar has been the main guy in net for one of the best teams in the CHL – the surprising Erie Otters who only won 19 games last season and this year had that many wins by Thanksgiving. Oscar has won 19 of the Otters 34 wins along with his first six OHL shutouts after winning 11 with zero shutouts last season. Oscar was also a star on the Swedish World Junior team being named top goalie as chosen by the Directorate.
4. Jonathan Marchessault-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 7
Season Stats 36GP 12-15-27 -3 35PIM
J_M, despite getting off to a slow start, has really heated up. After collecting only seven points in his first 19 games he has come on strong collecting 16 points in his next 14 games. Marchessault leads the Falcons in points and goals and is tied with Tim Erixon (who probably could/should be on this list but I took him off it last year) for the assist lead. Jonathan was called up earlier this season but didn’t make it into a game before being sent back down.
5. Marko Dano-HC Slovan Bratislava (KHL) Previous Rank 6
Season Stats 35GP 2-2-4 -11 34PIM
Other than the three new players this is the one I really wasn’t sure where to put in my rankings. I say this is because in the KHL he averages 9:10 of ice time a game including 21 of the 34 games (one game he got a misconduct in the 2nd period and they didn’t put his TOI for the game). Marko, like Kerby, had a disappointing World Juniors compared to last year when he led the Slovaks in scoring but it sounds like Marko played a different role this year – playing a strong two way game. I know Marko is talented he just needs some ice time. Hopefully we can get Marko over here after Slovan’s season is over or at least in Springfield next season (he could play there as a 19 year old since he was drafted from Europe) and this would lead to more icetime/opportunities.
6. Anton Forsberg-MODO (SHL) Previous Rank 8
Season Stats 18GP 8-7-3 2.72GAA .912Sv%
Anton is probably the closest of the three goalies on this list to make an impact in Columbus/Springfield but he will still need time to adjust to the North American style of play/rink size. After dominating in Sweden’s Allsvenskan (Sweden’s lower league) last year Anton is back with MODO in the SHL and started off the year playing . He has been alternating every two games with Linus Ullmark with both being top five in most stats. Anton has struggled of late losing his last five starts, but according to a source the team isn’t helping as much as it did at the start of the season. Hopefully Anton can turn things around and can finish the season strong before coming over next season.
7. Cody Goloubef-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 9
Season Stats 37GP 4-11-15 +4 59PIM
Cody has been one of only two Falcons defensemen to play in every game so far this season and is tied for third among D scoring on the Falcons. The only reason the Jackets haven’t called him up, I believe, is because of the risk of losing him to waivers when they would send him down. Cody was just recently named to the AHL All Star Team that will take on Swedish Club Farjestad.
8. Oliver Bjorkstrand-Portland Winterhawks (WHL) Previous Rank 16
Season Stats 42GP 28-33-61 +17 16PIM
The biggest riser on my list – jumping eight spots, Oliver has been amongst the scoring leaders of the WHL all season. Oliver was the first 2013 draft pick the Blue Jackets signed this season despite not turning 19 until April, meaning he still couldn’t play in AHL for at least two seasons other than when Portland’s season is over. Oliver is a strong two way threat collecting four shorthanded goals. Oliver and the Winterhawks are expected to make another long run in the WHL playoffs.
9. Mike Reilly-Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten) Previous Rank 11
Season Stats 20GP 8-6-14 +15 12PIM
Despite being the farthest from making an impact in either Columbus or Springfield, Mike is the Jackets most skilled (and smallest) defenseman prospect. Mike is currently third among big ten Dmen in scoring and is second in the nation in defenseman goal scoring. Like most offensive defensemen, Mike is a risk in a five on five situation but is a force on the power play with nine of his 14 points coming on the power play.
10. Michael Chaput-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 12
Season Stats 18GP 7-6-13 +2 20PIM
Michael made his NHL debut this season and didn’t look out of place in his 17 games even earning praise from Todd Richards upon being sent down. Since being sent back to Springfield, Michael has collected nine of his 13 points but he has missed some games. Michael is one of the Jackets many strong two way centers and could get another shot later this season if not during next year’s training camp.
11. Daniel Zaar-Rogle (Allsvenskan) Previous Rank 14
Season Stats 36GP 10-13-23 +1 20PIM
Daniel is still one of the Jackets only goal scoring threats along with Kerby Rychel, Markus Søberg and Peter Quenneville. Daniel plays in Sweden’s second league on Rogle and has been among the team’s leading scorers all season long. He is currently second on the team in goals and third in assists. Daniel is one of the more unknown prospects playing on a middle of the pack team but is highly skilled.
12. Dillon Heatherington-Swift Current Broncos (WHL) Previous Rank 15
Season Stats 43GP 3-24-27 +14 39PIM
The biggest player on my list is the Jackets top defensive defenseman prospect who has found his offense matching last year’s career high in points already. The reason for Dillon’s offensive outburst is probably due to him being paired with 13th ranked North American skater Julius Honka along with the Broncos being a better team. Dillon’s 24 assists are tied for fourth on the team and his +/- is second on the club. Dillon is part of the Broncos’ leadership group serving as an Alternate Captain this season.
13. Sean Collins-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 17
Season Stats 33GP 5-11-16 -4 20PIM
Sean Collins or as I call him “The New Weighty” is a jack of all trades and like Chaput hasn’t looked out of place in his brief stints with the Jackets. Sean is tied for fifth on the Falcons in goals, assists, and points playing in all but four games. Sean will never be more than a bottom six player with the Jackets but he brings size to a fairly small forward prospect pool.
14. Josh Anderson-London Knights (OHL) Previous Rank 20
Season Stats 34GP 16-13-29 +13 50PIM
Another riser in my rankings is Josh Anderson who came out of nowhere to make Team Canada for the World Junior Championships – actually scoring Canada’s first goal of the tournament. Josh has taken his game to another level this season leading at Knights in goals before leaving the team for Sweden. Josh will probably join Springfield next season and be a physical presence along with being a net front presence.
15. Lukas Sedlak-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 18
Season Stats 26GP 5-0-5 +4 14PIM
It’s been a rough rookie season for Sedlak going in and out of the Falcons lineup. Lukas is another of the Jackets two way centers and like Chaput is very good at the faceoff dot (at least he was in the Q, AHL doesn’t keep track). Hopefully Lukas can have a good second half and become a mainstay in the Falcons lineup as they gear up for the playoff run.
16. Peter Quenneville-Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) Previous Rank unranked
Season Stats 26GP 11-16-27 -7 4PIM
The first of three new prospects on my list. Peter left Quinnipiac in early November to join younger brother John and this probably sped up his development. Since joining Brandon, Peter has been a point per game player along with a being major threat on the power play with six of his 11 goals coming with the man advantage good for third on the team. If signed (and since he was just drafted that’s a big if) Peter could play in Springfield next season but will probably be back in Brandon being a veteran presence.
17. Gianluca Curcuruto-Plymouth Whalers (OHL) Previous Rank 19
Season Stats 32GP 3-11-14 -12 8PIM
It’s been kind of a rough year for Gianluca and the Whalers after finishing second in the Western Conference last season the Whalers are currently 8th. The main reason for Gianluca’s drop is due to an injury in which he missed 10 games in October. But according to a source The Big Chin has been a horse for the Whalers playing 30 minutes a night. The Jackets must make a decision on the blueliner soon but I think Gianluca will be signed because of the cannon of a shot he possesses.
18. Seth Ambroz-Minnesota (Big 10) Previous Rank Unranked
Season Stats 20GP 9-5-14 12PIM +7 12PIM
Seth is another newcomer to the list who is enjoying a breakout season on the nation’s top team. Seth to the surprise of most is currently leading the Gophers in goals with nine (three being empty net goals though). Seth is another power forward prospect who like Anderson is more than happy to go to the front of the net and cause havoc. Seth filled in on the Gopher’s top line while players were away at the World Juniors.
19. Markus Søberg-Frölunda J20 (J20 SuperElit) Previous Rank Unranked
Season Stats First Half (SuperElit Sodra) Stats 27GP 16-10-26 +10 28PIM Second Half (SuperElit Top 10) 3GP 2-0-2 +2 0PIM
Markus is the final player making his debut in my rankings. Markus plays in the J20 league which is two seasons in one on a dominant Frölunda team winning 19 of 27 in the first half finishing first. Markus led the little Indians in goal scoring tying for second in the league. Markus was the only drafted player on Norway’s entry into the World Juniors and according to reports was one of the few bright spots. Markus is a shifty winger normally playing in the team’s top six. Markus also tied for the team lead in power play goals with five coming with the man advantage.
Incomplete. Joonas Korpisalo-Jokerit (Loaned to Ilves currently-Finland) Previous Rank 10
Ok folks I’m taking a cop out on Korpisalo but I can explain. I still believe him to be one of our top 20 prospects but I have had little success getting stats out of Finland this season. Along with that, Joonas has missed a lot of time this season with injuries. Joonas is currently on loan to Ilves for the rest of the season and hopefully can get some start to get back on track.
There you have it folks – my top 20 Blue Jackets prospects. I’ll probably have to give my take on Hockeysfuture’s top 20 prospects whenever they do it because, well, I’ve said numerous times I don’t like their criteria oh how they classify a player as a “prospect”. I’ll bet money at least one of Murray or Jenner is on their list. I’ll also be working on my annual state of the prospect pool. If you have any thoughts on my list feel free to comment either here or on twitter.