Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top 20 prospects in the system.
AUGUST 31-IN-31: COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Early off-season moves, including results of the NHL Entry Draft were covered in July’s 31-in-31 series. If you missed it, please follow this link: https://dobberprospects.com/31-in-31-columbus-blue-jackets/
Much like every other team in the league, the Blue Jackets did the bulk of roster work in late June/early July. The club was involved in negotiations for Nikita Gusev last month but were unsuccessful in securing his services. A common theme of this off-season it would seem.
Elvis Merzlikins is quite possibly the most anticipated graduate for the Blue Jackets. The 2014 third round selection posted a 2.44 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts in 43 games in the Swiss National League (NLA) last season. He has twice won the Jacques Plante Trophy as the league’s Goaltender of the Year (2016, 2018) and he signed a one-year, entry-level contract in March. With the departures of Sergei Bobrovsky and Keith Kinkaid, the Latvian goaltender should make his NHL debut this fall.
Liam Foudy sort of graduated already, but not really. The 2018 first-round selection posted 68 points in 62 regular season games for the London Knights and added another 12 points in 11 playoff games. He then joined the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters for their Calder Cup playoff run and amassed two points in eight games. Foudy will battle hard for a spot with the Blue Jackets in training camp, but he is likely to play nine games to start 2019 and be sent down to the AHL for a year of seasoning.
Much like Foudy, Trey Fix-Wolansky had a pre-graduation to the AHL last season. The 20-year-old winger signed an entry-level contract in March and suited up for three AHL playoff games with the Cleveland Monsters. He quickly showed that he belonged by registering two points in those contests. Fix-Wolansky left his mark on the WHL last year by nearly setting a single-season record for most points by an Edmonton Oil King. His smallish stature has not stopped him during his WHL career, and it should not hinder his progression to the NHL either. He will make a case for himself to start 2019 with the Blue Jackets but will ultimately spend the next campaign with Cleveland to gain more pro experience.
Andrew Peeke signed and entry-level contract in April and joined the Columbus Blue Jackets for their playoff run but did not appear in any games. The Notre Dame captain finished his junior season in the NCAA by scoring 24 points in 40 games. He will forego his senior year and make a push to join the NHL ranks. The Blue Jackets however, have a logjam on their defense and as a result, Peeke will likely patrol the blueline for Cleveland in 2019-20.