Greetings all after a bit of summer break I’m back with my take on the Jackets Top 20 prospects. First here are my last top 20 from January.
1. Alexander Wennberg
2. Kerby Rychel
3. Oscar Dansk
4. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
5. Marko Dano
6. Anton Forsberg
7. Cody Goloubef
8. Oliver Bjorkstrand
9. Mike Reilly
10. Michael Chaput
11. Daniel Zaar
12. Dillon Heatherington
13. Sean Collins
14. Josh Anderson
15. Lukas Sedlak
16. Peter Quenneville
17. Gianluca Curcuruto
18. Seth Ambroz
19. Markus Soberg
Incomplete Joonas Korpisalo
When we look at the list for this year, two prospects from this list have moved on with J_M being traded to Tampa Bay and Gianluca Curcuruto not being signed after an injury filled/down year in Plymouth. There has also been some normal movement due to last season’s performances. So let’s take a look at my list of the top 20:
1. Alexander Wennberg-Frolunda (SHL) Previous Rank 1
2013-14 Stats 50GP 16-5-21 -5 8PIM
2014-15 Team Springfield Falcons/Columbus Blue Jackets
This should come as no shock especially if you made it out to Development Camp where Alexander stood out amongst the rest. Wennberg will get a long look in training camp for a spot in the CBJ’s bottom six but if he doesn’t grab a role there, he’ll be in Springfield’s top six and more than likely be one of the team’s first call ups.
2. Kerby Rychel-Guelph (OHL) Previous Rank 2
2013-14 Stats 58GP 34-56-90 +41 43PIM
2014-15 Team Springfield Falcons/Columbus Blue Jackets
Basically see Alexander Wennberg. As I said above about Alex, Kerby will get a look for a bottom six spot and I don’t believe he would look as out of place there as Wennberg. Not that Alex would look out if place, but the power forward Rychel throws his weight around more than Wennberg.
3. Sonny Milano-USNTDP (USHL) Previous Rank 2014 Draft Pick
2013-14 Stats 58GP 29-58-87
2014-15 Boston College (Plymouth Whalers)
The first new prospect to crack the list is Milano – Youtube star master of the backhand. Milano has the best hands of the Jackets prospects and is one of the team’s more skilled overall. Milano is “expected” to go to Boston College and fill the skates and jersey number of Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau. Sonny is the heir apparent for the Jackets top prospect whenever Wennberg and Rychel graduate.
4. Marko Dano-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 5
2013-14 Stats 10GP 2-4-6 -2 4PIM
2014-15 Springfield Falcons/Springfield Falcons
I put Marko behind Sonny because, despite Sonny being new, I think we’re still trying to see what we have in Marko. After playing fourth line minutes in the KHL he came over for a cup of coffee in Springfield. For the third time I will say (I swear i’m done after this one) Marko will get a look in camp and again, like Kerby, will not look out of place in the team’s bottom six (he’s used to those kind of minutes).
Anton Forsberg-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 6
Oscar Dansk-Erie Otters (OHL) Previous Rank 3
Forsberg: 4GP 3-0 1.13GAA .957Sv%
Dansk: 42GP 29-9-1 2.39GAA .909Sv% 6SO
2014-15 Team Springfield Falcons for both
Ok this is a mild cop out but I see these two as equals despite Anton having a slight edge on earning the starting role in Springfield this season. Anton and Oscar are a battle to watch this season because, well, whoever ends the year as the starter will probably be Sergei Bobrovsky’s backup next season. Hopefully Oscar can bounce back from a rough second half in Erie.
6. Oliver Bjorkstrand-Portland Winterhawks (WHL) Previous Rank 8
2013-14 Stats 69GP 50-59-109 +44 36PIM
The sleeper pick of last year’s draft exploded last season going from 63 points in 65 games to 109 in 69. Oliver is one of the few prospects on this list that’s signed other than those either in Springfield or that’ll be playing there this season. Oliver will only be in the CHL or NHL – those are the only two places he can play. So, unless he really blows away JD and Jarmo he’ll be back in Portland as one of the team’s offensive go to guys along with being one of Denmark’s stars at the World Juniors.
7. Mike Reilly-Minnesota (BIG 10) Previous Rank 9
2013-14 Stats 41GP 9-24-33 +19 18PIM
The Jackets top defensive prospect was amongst the NCAA’s defensive leading scorers last year and hopefully will be there again this year. After the season Mike will more than likely be signed (or at least the team will try) and will head to…this may be one of those situations where the Jackets have to grease the wheels a little and give him a game or so in Columbus. Mike could be paired with another Jackets prospect at Minnesota but we’ll talk about him later.
8. Michael Chaput-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 10
2013-14 Stats 55GP 19-26-45 -4 51PIM
I believed last year that Chaput was the heir apparent to Derek McKenzie’s fourth line center spot. Chaput led the Falcons in scoring last year among Jackets prospects. Michael, like I’ve said multiple times already (OK I lied above), should get a look in camp for the bottom six but he could be back in Springfield as one of their key offensive guys.
9. Cody Goloubef-Springfield Falcons (AHL) Previous Rank 7
2013-14 Stats 62GP 7-21-28 +9 98PIM
If Tim Erixon makes the Jackets as most expect him to as the 6th Dman, Cody Goloubef could be the Jackets 7th Dman. Both would need waivers if sent to Springfield. Goloubuef is the elder statesman on this list and with him being on a one year deal I have a feeling this might be Cody’s last shot with the CBJ.
10. Daniel Zaar-Rogle (Allsvenskan) Previous Rank 11
2013-14 Stats 52GP 16-20-36 -5 28PIM
Daniel is one of the Jackets top goal scoring threat prospects as he possesses a lethal shot that he can fire from anywhere. After playing last year in Sweden’s lower league, Daniel has signed with Lulea of the SHL. Daniel has been playing on the team’s second line in it’s two preseason games. Daniel will be relied on to fill some of the void of last year’s leading scorer (T3rd in SHL) was signed by a Swiss team (one with another CBJ prospect oddly enough).
11. Dillon Heatherington-Swift Current Broncos (WHL) Previous Rank 12
2013-14 Stats 70GP 6-29-35 +24 63PIM
The Jackets top defensive defenseman prospect set new offensive highs last year while paired with Stars first rounder Julius Honka. Dillon was impressive in the 3 on 3 tournament during Development Camp both offensive and defensively. Dillon is one of the few players on this list that wore a letter last year serving as an assistant captain and he could be captain if Colby Cave (yes Captain cave…man, I had to) doesn’t return. Dillon could join the Falcons after the Broncos season ends.
12. Josh Anderson-London Knights (OHL) Previous Rank 14
2013-14 Stats 59GP 27-25-52 +31 81PIM
2014-15 Team Springfield Falcons
Probably the toughest customer on this list, not that Josh is a goon (hopefully the days of the CBJ drafting goons ended in 2009). Josh is a power forward who came out of nowhere to make Team Canada last year and score the team’s first goal of the tournament last year. Josh can play in Springfield and will fit fine in any of the team’s four lines but Josh could be a bit of a dark horse for a spot in the Jackets bottom six.
13. Peter Quenneville-Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) Previous Rank 16
2013-14 Stats 44GP 21-31-52 -11 10PIM
Peter’s stock has grown since being a seventh round pick last year and moving to Brandon to join his brother, and Devils 2014 first round pick, John. Peter is another sniper who should have a big year. Now there’s a slim chance Peter could go to Springfield since he’s 20 but he will more than likely be one of the Kings three 20 year olds and will play in their top six.
14. Markus Soberg-Frolunda J20 Previous Rank 19
J20 SuperElit Sodra 27GP 16-10-26 +10 28PIM
J20 SuperElit Top 10 18 5-7-12 +8 12PIM
2014-15 Team Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Markus is the highest riser outside of the 2014 picks and could continue to rise as he heads overseas to join the Windsor Spitfires after being selected in CHL Import Draft. The skilled Norwegian should slot into the Spits top six. Markus will also be one of the stars for Norway at the World Championships Group A Division 1.
15. Ryan Collins-USNTDP Previous Rank 2014 Draft Pick
2013-14 Season Stats 9GP 1-6-7 26PIM
2014-15 Team Minnesota (Big 10)
Beginning a string of 2014 picks in this year’s list is the big fella, Ryan Collins. Collins is a lot like Dillon Heatherington just bigger and, from what I’ve read, maybe not as good offensively. Ryan could actually pick up points – it all depends on who he’s paired with. In other words get the puck to Mike Reilly (or some other offensive dman), let them wind up, and fire a shot – see what happens. As you can tell from my example, Ryan is off to Minnesota to join fellow Jackets prospects Mike Reilly and Seth Ambroz.
16. Julien Pelletier-Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) Previous Rank 2014 Draft Pick
2013-14 Stats 67GP 25-25-50 -8 28PIM
Julien was one of the top rookies in the Q last season finishing third behind 9th overall pick Nikolaj Ehlers and top 2015 draft prospect Daniel Sprong. Julien set a new Screaming Eagles rookie scoring record with 50 points and he never went more than three games without a point last season. Julien is a sniper with a 21.9% shooting percentage and he scored 25 goals on 114 shots. Julien is the Eagles fourth leading returning scorer and was second on the team in power play goals with 11 of his 25 coming on the man advantage. After a bit of camp its off to Russia for Julien and the Screaming Eagles to take part in the Junior Club World Cup.
17. Blake Siebenaler-Niagara IceDogs (OHL) Previous Rank 2014 Draft Pick
2013-14 Stats 68GP 6-24-30 -16 24PIM
Blake was another top rookie selected by the Jackets in 2014. He finished just three points behind teammate Vince Dunn for top scoring rookie Dman in the OHL. Blake uses a big shot from the point and led the Dogs Dmen in goals with six. Blake will be part of IceDogs D corps that will return six of the seven dmen from last years playoffs. Blake led the IceDogs in assists in their seven game series loss to Eastern Conference champ North Bay.
18. Joonas Korpisalo-Ilves (Finland) Previous Rank Incomplete
2013-14 Stats 8GP 1.32GAA .957Sv% with Ilves
The last time I did this, I left Joonas out despite still believing him to be a top 20 prospect. I did this because last season Joonas struggled. He was given the starting job with Jokerit due to team injuries then suffered an injury of his own which caused him to miss the World Junior Championships where the Fins won the Gold. Joonas was then loaned to Ilves where he shined. This year, after being signed to an entry level contract, he is back with Ilves where, according to Miika Arponen who I was directed to for Ilves news, believes him to be the starter for the Lynxes this season. In one preseason game Joonas was solid stopping 26 of 27. He then picked up a shutout in an annual event but it was only a two 15 minute period contest.
19. Elvis Merzlikins-HC Lugano (Switzerland) Previous Rank 2014 Draft Pick
2013-14 Stats 22GP 2.13GAA .925Sv%
Elvis was a bit of a surprise pick in the 2014 draft. I didn’t think the Jackets would select a goalie since they have a pretty deep stable of good young goalies but what’s one more? Elvis is playing in the Swiss League with Lugano and is expected to be the starter and possibly one of the best goalies overall in the league. Elvis has starred with the Latvian National Team including being named the top goalie in multiple tournaments. I’ll be honest I about combined Merzlikins and Korpisalo much like Dansk and Forsberg but decided not to due to not knowing a whole lot about Elvis.
There you have it folks – my take on the Jackets top 20 prospects. I may try and update this every month or so or at least after the World Juniors like I did last year. The European prospects have been in camp for a week or so and the QMJHL started a few days ago its beginning to look a lot like hockey season!