Prospect Ramblings – Blue Jacket Roster Rookies

Pat Quinn

2019-12-19

 

 

Welcome to the Thursday prospect ramblings. This week I want to take a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets as they are not a very good team, have a weak coach, but have quite a bit of rookies playing for them this season. There is promise there but sadly none seem to be of the “Top Line” variety of rookies, so let me go through them.

 

Also do not forget my #GoodTweet of the week!

 

{source} <blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Only like a year and a half late <a href=”https://t.co/plH7wYGnYq”>https://t.co/plH7wYGnYq</a></p>&mdash; Pat Quinn (not that one) (@FHPQuinn) <a href=”https://twitter.com/FHPQuinn/status/1206397611923501056?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 16, 2019</a></blockquote>{/source}

 

 

Also a special shout out to Hayden Soboleski (@soboleskih) for his work at dobberprospects being a senior editor and helping to grow the site so much. Although his Sunday ramblings will be missed, he is thankfully still covering the Maple Leafs and Avalanche, and also still really needs a haircut.

 

 

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Alexandre Texier

 

Texier is likely the Blue Jackets best rookie playing right now in terms of future upside, but that future upside is capped without a superstar on his line (sorry PLD fans*) in the 53-58 range for me. He is likely a second liner at best on his own but could be a nice complimentary piece if CBJ can land another Panarin-type of player (think ~65+ points). He is picking up the production lately as well with seven points in eight December games, and contrast that with his four points in 22 games through October and November. He is still sitting around the 12-13 TOI mark, no powerplay time, and shoots at about 1.47 shots per game, three totals he will need to improve upon, with the help of the coaching staff in the TOI department.

 

*Note: I like PLD, a lot, but I do not think he will be a big time producer and line driver like other 1Cs

 

 

Emil Bemstrom

 

Bemstrom has been out of the line up since December 7 with an upper body injury that will keep him out for the rest of the decade (aka in to January 2020). Bemstrom has been handed some of the weirdest ice time I have ever seen for a rookie. He would have games ranging from eight to 14 minutes and seeing either no powerplay time (frequently in games where he plays under 10 minutes) or upwards of four powerplay minutes occasionally in the other games. He is seemingly getting the Sam Gagner treatment from Torts as a PP specialist… sometimes. Bemstrom has a very good shot and is a great middle-six winger that CBJ has an overabundance of. On his own he could probably hit the 55 point mark with 30 goals, but a star set up centre could push him in the 40 goal range, if everything went right.

 

 

Eric Robinson

 

Signed out of Princeton in the NCAA, Robinson has never been an elite scorer but does have the size and skill needed to be a complimentary piece. He did progress in the NCAA posting 10 more points than the year before exactly three times, with totals of 11, 21 and 31, which is awesomely super random. He likely tops out as a bottom six winger but he can be enough of a utility player where he can move around the line up and not look too out of place. I would put his future between 30-45 points, but there could be some years where he is an exception if he clicks Kunitz-style.

 

 

Vladislav Gavrikov (D)

 

Gavrikov is not a top-flight high-scoring defenseman but he is a solid two-way top four defenseman who has adapted rather quickly to North American ice. He is one of those players who is a much better real-life NHL player than fantasy player as you will usually see him on the waiver wire or be forced to pick him late in really deep pools. His upside is likely up to 35 points as no one in CBJ is supplanting Jones or Werenski as the top two.

 

 

Kevin Stenlund

 

Stenlund has improved in his second AHL season currently with 0.59 points per game in 27 games versus the 0.42 he put up in 59 games in 2018-2019. He was called up due to Columbus’ rush of injuries and finally scored his first goal. In typical Torts fashion Stenlund had 11 minutes in his debut and 8:34 in his second game (where he scored). I get the feeling that there is something there with the hulking centre, and he could be the perfect 2C (or 3C) down the line for the Blue Jackets with PLD ahead of him. The projection in his point potential is tough for me though, because h could either be a bottom six centre and get between 20-35 points, but if he can start to develop his skills and skating there is no reason why he cannot be in the 40-55 point range.

 

 

Andrew Peeke (D)

 

The 2016, 34th overall selection was called up to the Blue Jackets and has been in the line up since December 5. He is playing on the bottom pair and getting around 12 minutes a game as he is not quite NHL-ready but he is competent enough to play limited minutes. It is his first professional season and he has registered 12 points in 21 Cleveland Monsters games, as he is surprisingly the AHL team’s highest scoring defenseman and rookie. Again with Columbus, no one is taking over for Jones or Werenski unless they leave or are traded, so his upside is capped with minimal PP production likely in the 25-37 range.

 

 

Elvis Merzlikins (G)

 

Merzlikins has not quite appeared to be comfortable in NHL action, but Torts has also allowed him no leash to do so as he recently gave Korpisalo both sets of back to back games. He has been sent down a couple times this season to get a couple AHL starts and has looked fantastic in both of those games. He has 22.2% quality starts and the two NHL games he looked good he has two total goals of support. This season may be a wash as he begins to get his footing (and hopefully the Jackets give him some rope) but long term he does have starters upside.

 

 

Jakob Lilja

 

Lilja came over to North America as a real deep sleeper for a lot of fantasy GMs as a top SHL scorer. Unfortunately when he came over he was not given a lot of favourable starts and routinely saw under 10 minutes on the fourth line. He managed two assists but was sent down to the AHL at the beginning of November. He did have good multi-category stats for a prospect so that is something to watch if he comes back up but still receives limited ice time. Lilja is slowly adapting to North American play but also only has nine points in 18 games, yet in his last two games he has three points and hopefully that is the kick start he needs. If he stays in the NHL he can become a middle six winger with good peripherals, likely in the 45-55 point range.

 

 

Trey Fix-Wolansky

 

TFW is a good long term prospect, unfortunately further developed prospects were in the Columbus system requiring TFW to be sent to the AHL from the start. Four games after scoring his first AHL goal of the season in his first AHL game he was injured. He recently came back December 6th and has not scored in the five games since he has returned as it takes time to return to game shape. Long term in the right situation TFW could get upwards of 60 points, but without a star in a middle-six role he should be in the 50-7 point range.

 

 

Veini Vehvilainen (G)

 

Vehvilainen has been a top Liiga goalie since 2017 and is only 22 years old. In the AHL he does not look out of step at all. The wins are not there as the Monsters are not the greatest team but he does have a 0.921 save percentage in 13 AHL games, which is rather fantastic. More people should be talking about him. If Merzlikins is not careful Vehvilainen could leap frog him as the next to take over for Korpisalo, if Korpisalo falters.

 

 

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Thanks for reading. Follow my twitter: @FHPQuinn

 

 

 

 

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