Columbus Blue Jackets 2018 – Development Camp, Prospect and Draft Updates
Thanks for joining us for our July 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at how each team fared in the NHL Entry Draft, as well as checking in on incoming/outgoing prospects and Development Camp notes. Check back every day for a new team profile, and next month when we begin the August 31-in-31 series diving more into prospect depth charts.
Since becoming the GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013, Jarmo Kekäläinen has cultivated a culture of growing his organization via the draft. During an interview on the draft floor, the GM was elated regarding their selections. Kekäläinen stated he considered picking Kirill Marchenko with his 18th pick as the prospect was ranked as a first-rounder by the Columbus scouts. Marcus Karlberg is a smaller feisty forward with huge upside. Tim Berni played solidly against men in the Swiss league. Veini Vehvilainen is considered ready for North America but is under contract for another year playing for Kärpät of the Finish league. Lastly, Trey Fix-Wolanksy is a tireless worker with a lot of skill and has been a constant riser. The Columbus Blue Jackets scouting team has watched their selections in over 200 games during their young careers and are very satisfied with the results of the draft. Read more on the selections bellow.
Round 1 – 18th Overall: Liam Foudy, LW
Although Liam Foudy was a first-rounder by the OHL’s London Knights in 2016, he only really broke out during the second half of the 17-18 season. After an underwhelming first campaign for the Knights, Foudy had 24 goals and 40 points in 65 games. He will join Canada’s U18 team and should be given a larger role this fall for London. Foudy is considered one of the best skaters from the OHL’s draft eligible group. He is creative, can control the puck at high speeds, and has tremendous skill and poise. Before making the jump to the NHL, Foudy will need round out his game a little more. He is a scoring forward with a high ceiling.
Round 2 – 49th Overall: Kirill Marchenko, LW
Kirill Marchenko had an disappointing season in the MHL with 8 goals and 16 points in 31 games. However his playoff and international performances kept his stock from falling. Marchenko was considered to be outstanding in multiple Under-18 Russian tournaments, the Five Nations tournament and a star at the IIHF Under-18s where he scored three goals and six points in five games. He has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL. He needs to work on his defensive and physical game but has solid skating and hands. Marchenko is definitely a boom or bust candidate.
Round 3 – 80th Overall: Marcus Karlberg, RW
Marcus Karlberg is a fast and skilled forward who generates scoring chances. He scored 47 points in 39 games last season in Sweden’s top junior tier finishing fourth in points-per-game average. A diminutive forward at 5-7, Karlberg is a pest who battles hard in the corners. In today’s NHL size is far less important as star players with similar stature jockey to lead the league in points. Next year he will return to Sweden to play for Leksand in Hockeyallsvenskan, a tier bellow the SHL.
Round 6 – 159th Overall: Tim Berni, D
Tim Berni plays a very mature game and maintains a strong work ethic. He will suit up for the ZSC Lions this year. Berni made his National League debut this past schedule for the Lions playing moderate minutes in eight regular games and subsequently in 15 playoff games. Berni also suited up for Switzerland’s U20 team at the World Juniors.
Round 6 – 173rd Overall: Veini Vehvilainen, G
The Finish goalie was the only overaged player chosen by the Blue Jackets this draft. Veini Vehvilainen played the last three seasons for the Liiga in Finland and is considered the top goalie in the league. In 2017 he led the entire World Junior Championship in save percentage and GAA playing for Finland. With a save percentage of .925 and a 1.89 GAA, this past campaign he won top honours as the league’s best netminder. Vehvilainen was a significant reason Kärpät won the league title. He is small for a goalie topping out at 6-0 but has progressed wonderfully in recent years.
Round 7 – 204th Overall: Trey Fix-Wolanksy, RW
Trey Fix-Wolanksy was once considered a long shot to make the Western Hockey League; he not only made it but he excelled. Considered a talented offensive player, he surprised many by putting up bigger numbers than expected. Fix-Wolanksy improved in his second WHL campaign where he potted 32 goals and 89 points in 71 games.
Development Camp Notes:
The Columbus Blue Jackets development camp took place June 25th through June 28th. Five of the six picks made by Columbus last month were at camp. Kirill Marchenko was the only player not present from this year’s crop due to prior commitments in Russia for SKA St. Petersburg. Other highly anticipated prospect Alexandre Texier had recently undergone surgery for a shoulder injury and was not present. The camp is intended to give the players a taste of what it means to a professional hockey player and less so as an evaluation. Prospects participated in off-ice education in which they learned how to improve their training and nutrition. The camp concluded with a 3-on-3 tournament. Notable attendees were Liam Foudy, Eric Robinson, Jonathan Davidsson and Vitali Abramov (Abramov however is injured and did not skate).
Columbus’ 2018 first-rounder Liam Foudy’s skill was on full display. He demonstrated explosive speed and continually flew passed his opposing defenders. What impressed most about Foudy was his ability to create plays while skating at such high speeds. Defenseman Tim Berni, the Blue Jacket’s sixth round pick from this year, also impressed. GM Jarmo Kekäläinen called him a “possible sleeper.”
Here is a link to the development camp roster from NHL’s official website:
Riley Nash, C/RW
Anthony Duclair, LW/RW
Adam Clendening, D
Dillon Simpson, D
Tommy Cross, D
Jean-François Bérubé, G
Thomas Vanek, LW/RW
Matt Calvert, LW/RW
Mark Letestu, C
Jordan Schroeder, C/RW
Ryan Kujawinski, C
Jack Johnson, D
Ian Cole, D
Cameron Gaunce, D
Taylor Chorney, D
André Benoît, D
Jeff Zakoff, G
RFA forward Oliver Bjorkstrand and defenseman Ryan Murray remain to be signed but that should get done by training camp.
Ready For Full-Time:
This campaign we can confidently say prospects Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Markus Nutivaara are going to be mainstays with the big club. Sonny Milano* and Scott Harrington* have the inside track to do the same.
Potential Prospects to Steal a Roster Spot:
Markus Hännikäinen, LW/RW
Eric Robinson, LW
Vitali “Vitaly” Abramov, RW/LW
Lukas Sedlak, C/LW
Alex Broadhurst, C
Liam Foudy, C
Dean Kukan, D
Gabriel Carlsson, D
The Columbus Blue Jackets are a team which prefers to promote from within rather than fill open roster spots with free agents whom are in general overpaid and require long term commitment; GM Jarmo Kekäläinen has gone on record stating as such. He believes strongly in ensuring his prospect pool gets their fair share of opportunities.
Lucas Sedlak played 53 games on the fourth line at center this past year for the Blue Jackets in his sophomore season before being sidelined indefinitely with an UBI. Scott Harrington was recalled and played solidly in 32 games as the sixth defensemen for Columbus. With the departure of Jack Johnson and Ian Cole, we can expect Harrington and Markus Nutivaara to become mainstays on the roster this fall. That being said, the competition remains steep for the newly opened roster spots. Markus Hännikäinen played 32 games last campaign. Other prospects Alex Broadhurst, Eric Robinson, Gabriel Carlsson, and Dean Kukan had cups of coffee in 17-18. Arguably the most skilled Blue Jackets prospect Vitali Abramov continues to improve and oozes high end talent. Very likely to play this year for the team’s AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, he has boom potential. If anyone can surprise at training camp and provide a fantasy hockey impact it would be him and if the rumours of Artemi Panarin’s being traded come to fruition, Abramov could very well offset the competition.
As much as there are exciting players in the Columbus Blue Jacket’s pipeline, there are a few veterans who may hold them back from making the jump:
Nathan Gerbe, C/W
Zac Dalpe, C/RW
Adam Clendening, D
Tommy Cross, D
Dillon Simpson, D
Jean-François Bérubé, G
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a very bright future ahead of them with a strong young core of roster players and hungry talented prospects in the stables. Training camp should provide lots of excitement and opportunity for the Jackets’ prospect pool, just as Jarmo Kekäläinen intended.
Thanks for reading, check back next month for our August 31-in-31 Series that dives deeper into each organization’s prospect depth charts and players development towards making the big jump!
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