2014 Traverse City Tournament Preview

Posted by CBJProspects on September 04, 2014
Prospects / 1 Comment

Hockey season is right around the bend. The boards are going in at Nationwide and the Jackets prospects, along with your friendly neighborhood prospect geek, are off to Traverse City, Michigan for the annual NHL Prospects Tournament at the Centre Ice Arena.

Starting off with the how the tournament is set up, the eight teams are split into two divisions named after Red Wings legends Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe. The Jackets will be in the Howe Division with the Minnesota Wild, St Louis Blues and the host/defending champs Detroit Red Wings. The Lindsay Division features Jackets division rivals the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers along with the Dallas Stars and the Buffalo Sabres who should boast the highest pick playing in the draft in 2nd overall pick Sam Reinhart (Buffalo hasn’t released it’s roster as of this writing).

Each team will play the three teams in its division in a round robin and then face off against the team that finished in the same spot in the other division.

The Jackets are bringing probably their best roster ever and hope to improve on back to back second place finishes in their division (4th overall in the tournament both times). The team’s forward and goalies are probably the best in the tournament. I know I’m biased and our roster is loaded but I think this team will do well this year and it’s mainly because no other team in the tournament’s roster really impresses me. Let’s take a look:

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Sonny Milano to OHL

Posted by CBJProspects on August 16, 2014
Prospects / No Comments

It came out last night that Blue Jackets 2014 1st round pick Sonny Milano will not attend Boston College and instead will be signing his entry level deal with the CBJ soon.

Because of being drafted from the USHL, Sonny is eligible to play in Springfield but more than likely he is heading to Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League. This somewhat shocked many of the people I follow (one I think was gonna need talked off a ledge) as Sonny was expected to fill the hole left by Hobey Baker Award winner Johnny Gaudreau.

Here’s a quote from BC coach Jerry York about Sonny deciding not to attend BC “Sonny has informed me he will sign a contract with Columbus. They will dictate his path as he embarks upon his pro career.” A lot of people are getting on Sonny for decommiting after saying he would go to BC at the US World Junior Camp but I think it would have been highly unlikely for him to decommit in the middle of a US event. Like Mike McMahon from College Hockey News said there are many roads to the NHL.

I think the best option for Sonny is to head to Plymouth where he’ll probably be the Whalers go to offensive weapon as the teams leading returning scorers are 18 year old Francesco Vilardi and import Victor Crus Rydberg who had 38 points. A trade that some think may have helped get Sonny to the Whalers was trading for Matthew Campagna who had 74 points with Sudbury last season.

It was a down year for the Whalers last year. they finished 8th in the Western Conference – going 28-33-0-7 which included being swept by Memorial Cup Runner Up Guelph. The Whalers also lost GM/coach Mike Vellucci to the Carolina Hurricanes (who use Plymouth as their OHL affiliate-they have the same owner). One asset that is returning is OHL top goalie and Parma native Alex Nedeljkovic (who Sonny shares an agent with).

So Sonny will head to Traverse City joining last year’s three first round picks which likely sets a new tournament record (I can’t think of any team ever sending more than two). Sonny also seems to be a lock for Team USA at the World Juniors after leading the evaluation camp in scoring.

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2014 Top 20 CBJ Prospects

Posted by CBJProspects on August 11, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospects / 1 Comment

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:

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Quick Thoughts on CBJ 3-on-3 Prospect Tournament

Posted by CBJProspects on July 11, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospects / No Comments

I was able to make it down to the Blue Jackets development camp and just wanted to offer some quick thoughts on certain players based on the 3-on-3 Prospect Tournament as well as what I may remember from the one day I went to camp.

#41 Alexander Wennberg

Alexander, just pick a locker now. Number 10 jersey right? He looked like a man amongst boys out there – scoring multiple ways either sniping past the goalies or picking up the garbage.

#48 TJ Tynan

TJ did what he is known for at Notre Dame – showing off his superb passing skills and setting up multiple goals.

#52 Kerby Rychel

Kerby showed off that shot he’s known for in the scrimmage scoring just seconds into the first game.

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CBJ at the 2014 NHL Draft

Posted by CBJProspects on July 03, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Draft, Prospects / No Comments

Well folks, my two day version of Christmas has ended with the Jackets adding seven new prospects to the organization. So without further adieu let’s meet the newest Blue Jackets:

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Jackets Re-acquire 5th Round Pick for Nikita Nikitin

Posted by CBJProspects on June 26, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Draft / No Comments

Ah!! The Jackets 5th round pick that they traded to Edmonton for Justin Schultz at the trade deadline is now back with the Blue Jackets with the Oilers have signing Nikita Nikitin. Here’s who I think the Jackets should take with the pick so consider this me adding it to my mock draft that came out earlier this week.

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My 2014 CBJ Mock Draft

Posted by CBJProspects on June 24, 2014
Draft, Prospects / 1 Comment

Hello all! It’s the greatest part of the NHL offseason – the NHL Entry Draft (Ok maybe just to me). I’ve said multiple times what the CBJ need so I’m not going to waste any time – let’s get drafting. Here are my predictions for this year’s draft that will occur this weekend in Philadelphia.

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Why I think the CBJ should focus on Defense at the NHL Entry Draft

Posted by CBJProspects on June 13, 2014
Draft, Prospects / No Comments

How do, all! As you know, I’ve been saying that the CBJ should focus on their defensive prospect depth in this year’s draft despite the fact that, from what I’ve gathered, the best player available in the first round will more than likely be a forward. As I pointed out in my preview, the CBJ have used 16 of their last 19 picks on forwards or goalies including six of last year’s seven picks (all six being forwards) with four of those picks being among the teams top prospects. But more importantly, I say this because of the organization’s overall lack of depth at the position.

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2014 CBJ Prospect Awards

Posted by CBJProspects on June 02, 2014
Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospects / No Comments

Greeting all! Live from your phone or PC, the entertainment capital of your office, it’s time for my fourth annual edition of The Prospect Awards so put on your best tuxedo shirt and let’s get going. Continue reading…

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CBJ Prospects at the Memorial Cup

Posted by CBJProspects on May 29, 2014
Prospects / No Comments

Well folks – the season for everyone with the Blue Jackets has come to an end when the Memorial Cup Final was played on Sunday. The CBJ had two prospects playing in the event – Josh Anderson played for the host London Knights and Kerby Rychel played for the OHL Champions Guelph Storm.

Josh Anderson-London Knights (Host)
Memorial Cup Stats 3GP 1-0-1 -2 6PIM
Josh and the Knights had been off since they were eliminated in the second round of the OHL playoffs by Guelph. Unfortunately, this section of the review is really one of those “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” moments. The Knights were a disappointment including being named the “worst on-ice Memorial Cup host ever”. They were only the second host to not win a game – but at least they did better than the other team winning that honor. The 03 Quebec Remparts scored 8 and allowed 12 where the Knights scored only four goals allowing 13.

In their three games, the Knights were shutout in a 1-0 loss to Val-d’Or despite taking 51 shots; then they lost 5-2 to Edmonton setting up a win or go home game against Guelph. In the 7-2 Guelph win, Josh picked up his only point of the tournament. In the second period with London trailing 3-1 Josh drove to the net and shot. Justin Nichols stopped it and Max Domi missed the rebound allowing the puck going to Brady Austin. Austin’s shot seems to have been tipped by Mitchell Marner. Nichols stopped this shot as well but the rebound got to Josh allowing him to snap a backhand to make it 3-2. This game ended Josh’s OHL career as he is more than likely headed to Springfield, Massachusetts next year (even though I think the RJ Umberger trade would open a Josh sized hole in the CBJ lineup – just throwing it out there).

In his OHL career Josh scored 122 points in 191 games after walking on with the Knights. Josh is only the second Jackets draft pick ever to play in three Memorial Cups joining Phillipe Dupuis who played in 03,04 and 06.

Kerby Rychel-Guelph Storm (OHL Champions)
Memorial Cup Stats 4GP 3-4-7 +2 0PIM
Kerby and the Storm had the longest layoff of the three league champs and opened against Edmonton Saturday night in London. Kerby started the scoring with just five seconds remaining in the first period, when he picked up the rebound of a Zach Leslie point shot to make it 1-0. In the second, after the Oil Kings scored two goals in 27 seconds, Kerby scored a goofy one. On a dump in, Kings goalie Tristan Jarry played the puck and got it to a dman who cleared it…right into Kerby bouncing off him into the net to tie it at two (watch the highlights you see Kerby give kind of a “I don’t know what happened” gesture). Kerby would be named first star in the 5-2 win, here’s his post game comments.

Up next was a game against the 1-0 Foreurs. Just a minute in the Storm’s top line worked its magic when Zack Mitchell went to the corner and found Robby Fabbri (please Jarmo I don’t ask for much) in the slot who had the attention of every one in green – even the mascot and he wasn’t even in London – sliding a perfect pass to Kerby who had a wide open net to tap the puck in to. In the second, after the Foreurs score two in 56 seconds, the Storm’s top line was at it again with Mitchell, Fabbri and Rychel. The goal came with Fabbri finishing off a pretty passing sequence. The Storm won the game 6-3.

Up next was a game against the host London Knights with the Storm picking up a 7-2 win ending the Knights tournament and clinching the Storm a spot in Sunday’s Cup Final.  Kerby picked up an assist on Scott Kosmachuk’s hat trick goal when, on a three on two, Kerby got the puck from Fabbri and sent it to Kosmachuk (even though it looks like he didn’t even touch it) who slid it past Jake Patterson.

With some help from a twitter follower, I was able to attend the Championship game and make my first trip to London. Of the three OHL rinks I’ve been to it was the nicest. In the Final, a matchup between Guelph and the WHL Champ Edmonton Oil Kings, the outcome marked the first time since 2010 a non QMJHL team won the Cup. Kerby picked up another point in the first minute when Zack Mitchell stole a clearing attempt and started a three on two. He passed the puck to Kerby who passed to Fabbri who had a wide open net allowing him to make it 1-0 Storm. Early in the third, with Guelph trailing 4-2, Kerby came screaming off the bench and gathered a loose puck from a board battle. He then went behind the net and found Mitchell in front to make it 4-3. Sadly it wasn’t enough and the Storm would fall 6-3.

Kerby finished tied for second in tournament scoring and was named to the all star team. Kerby took the loss in his final junior game hard sitting on the bench (shown crying on the scoreboard way too long London or Sportsnet camera guy) with his linemates while his teammates waited for the Oil Kings to line up for the handshakes. Kerby, like Josh, is off to Springfield even though he’ll probably get a long look in training camp (again Umberger trade=Rychel size hole but that’s me). Kerby ends his junior career with 272 points in 256 games played including two 40 goal seasons.

There you have it folks, another season of my ramblings. I’ll be back soon with my CBJ prospect awards and we are a little less than a month away from the NHL draft so soon I’ll have a new batch of guys to keep track of.

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