The Hockey News Future Watch issue came out recently and with me being the CBJ fanbase's resident prospect guru(geek if you wanna be a jerk bout it) it got the little hamster wheel in my head spinning about what we have coming down the pipeline. The farthest I could go back in past Future Watch issues is 2009 when the Jackets had a A- which put the Jackets among the top 7 teams. In 2010 the team dropped to 10th with a B grade keeping that grade also in 2011. This years issue is when it gets ugly dropping to 24th with a C+. After this season the Blue Jackets prospect pool takes a beating with nine of the 21 prospects Ive been keeping track of all season needing to be signed or they become a free agent or reenter the draft. Now of course the team cant sign all nine that would put the team way over the 50 contract limit and lets face it most haven't done enough to earn a contract with the team. The nine are made up of players picked in the 2010 draft or are from other drafts and are seniors finishing there college careers.
D-Brandon Archibald(10 Draft)
C-Michael Chaput(10 Draft Philadelphia pick)
C-Sean Collins(08 Draft NCAA SR)
G-Mathieu Corbeil(10 Draft)
RW-Jake Hansen(07 Draft NCAA SR)
D-Austin Madaisky(10 Draft)
RW-Petr Straka(10 Draft)
RW-Trent Vogelhuber(07 Draft NCAA SR)
D-Will Weber(07 Draft NCAA SR)
Now of course this is me just throwing out my opinion(but isn't that what blogging is all about?) of who should and shouldn't be signed. Of the nine I think five should be signed, those five are Michael Chaput, Mathieu Corbeil, Jake Hansen, Austin Madaisky and Will Weber. I say these five because they do what prospects should do fill a need. Remember what Antoine Vermette and Sammy Pahlsson did well? Win faceoffs and that's one of the things Michael Chaput does best finishing in the top 10 in the Q in faceoffs win(they do wins instead of by percentage..that make no sense to anyone else?). Chaput won 62 percent of the faceoffs he took this season and set a career high with 63 points in 57 games. Given some time in the AHL which he could play in next season or go back to Shawinigan to count as one of the team's three 20 year olds I see Michael as a third line center with skill As for Mathieu Corbeil my main and only reason is...HES A GOALIE AND WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN TERMS OF GOALIE DEPTH NEXT SEASON!!!! Sorry for shouting but for next season the Jackets have Steve Mason and Allen York under contract and that's it, now I've thrown out the idea of resigning Mark Dekanich on a two way deal and people didn't disagree with as much as I thought they would and now the possible resigning of Shawn Hunwick throws a small monkey wrench into this line of thinking. Corbeil is 6'6 and is among the QMJHL leaders including winning the QMJHL award for lowest GAA now I know Corbeil has played for a juggernaut in Saint John but we all know the NHL is going bigger in net and 6'6 is exactly that. Now for Jake Hansen if you wouldve asked me before the season if the CBJ were gonna sign Hansen before the season i would've laughed in your face but as the old cliche goes "that's why you play the games". Going into his senior year Hansen had 39 points in 106 career games but like most athletes when they need a contract they have a career year. In 40 games this year Jake has almost matched his career total with 34 points and he still has to play in the NCAA tournament. Hansen could help the always anemic Jackets power play since almost half of his career goals are on the power play, it seems like most of the goal highlights of Hansen are him putting his 6'2 frame in front of the crease and scoring on a tip in. Austin Madaisky was amongst the WHL leading D scorers all season finishing with career highs in goals, assists and points almost doubling his previous high of 27 with a 50 point season. Now could his success be because the Blazers were one of the best teams in the WHL well its possible but Austin had 27 points the previous two season one that included being traded midseason and suffering a spinal injury last season. Austin will also help the Jackets power play with 11 of his 13 goals being scored on the power play. Austin could also go back to the WHL and play as a 20 year old. Last but not least is Will Weber, Weber is a rarity among the Jackets defensive prospects as in he's a true defensive defensemen. Weber will not score much but if you want to score Will's gonna make you pay for it. Only scoring 30 points in 154 games he's put up 263 penalty minutes which is sixth among RedHawks all time. After some time in the AHL Will could be a physical presence on the Jackets blueline.
For the four I don't think will get signed I'm not gonna bash them it just didn't work out, two of them are seventh round picks where the odds of picking a NHL player are slim to none...unless you're the Detroit Red Wings(author curses quietly and weeps). Recently the Jackets/Falcons have shown why I should stick to playing GM on Xbox 360 as two of the four I didn't think should be signed(I've been working on this a few days) have been signed by the teams. Both Sean Collins and Trent Vogelhuber the two seventh round picks were signed to ATOs with Collins also signing a two year entry level contract. Another is a second round pick or the round I call(cue horror music) the draft pick graveyard. In two years since being drafted he hasn't scored as many points as he had his draft year. As for Brandon Archibald I kinda feel bad writing this, the couple times ive talked to him seems like a nice kid but his stats won't wow you even though he has almost as many points after being drafted as before. It's just I don't see him better than any of the prospects we have.
As for next season starting off in Springfield and going off capgeek's contract years of the players currently on Springfield only three forwards, four defensemen(one in Chicago)and a goalie are signed for next season. Those players are Matt Calvert, Andrew Joudrey and Tomas Kubalik at Forward, Anton Blomqvist, Steven Delisle Cody Goloubef and Dalton Prout on defense and Allen York as I said above. Now seven players on Springfield are RFAs so most of those could be brought back. Three of those seven have played some with the Jackets this season those being Dane Byers, Maksim Mayorov and the fanbase's early season fan favorite Cody Bass. As for rookies other than the ones we need to sign above Oliver Gabriel will be back after starting the year in Springfield before being sent back to Portland and Dalton Smith who could play in Springfield or go back to the 67s. Now with Boone Jenner signing lately he'll be in the same boat as Ryan Johansen this season having to either play in Columbus or going back to Oshawa probably serving as captain for the second straight season.
As for the unsigned prospects the Jackets will have 9 also adding at least 8 new prospects barring any trades. Those 9 are Seth Ambroz, Kevin Lynch, Lukas Sedlák and TJ Tynan at forward. Thomas Larkin, Drew Olson and Mike Reilly on defense and Martin Ouelette in goal. Most of these guys are in the CHL the exceptions are Larkin and Lynch who will be seniors while Tynan and Ouelette will be juniors and Forsberg will still be in Sweden unless goalie coach Ian Clarke has his way. Another thing about next year is ill finally be able to compare Mike Reilly with the other prospects, Ive had a hard time this season since the BCHL is a step below the WHL and most players are playing there to keep there NCAA eligibilty. So scoring a lot in the BCHL might not equal success, heard of Kyle Turris playing in the BCHL made him the third overall pick but id say he's still trying to realize that potential if he ever does. Ambroz could see a bump in ice time as Minnesota is losing five senior forwards including Jake Hansen who normally was a line above Ambroz when they post the line sheet. Ambroz and Reilly will be teammates at Minnesota next season.
As for what we need to look for in the draft I think we need a little bit of everything and if you follow me on twitter you know my take on this trading the 1st or 2nd pick nonsense. But if you want to put a priority on things I'd say we need to add at least three defensemen of varying playing styles, a goalie in rounds two through four no more seventh round picks like the last two years in fact maybe two goalies. Last but not least and I harped on this earlier this season a true goal scorer I mean outside of Cam Atkinson and possibly Matt Calvert the Jackets don't have a true goal scoring threat. Now if the Jackets draft who I want them to pick if we pick first that'll help fill this need and will more than likely play in Columbus next year. I say this because you have to go back to when Erik Johnson was selected that the 1st pick didn't play after being drafted.
So like I said this is just my take on the Jackets prospect pool. I plan on attending the NHL draft in Pittsburgh so I'll have on the spot updates and I'll probably see some of you at the Draft Lottery Tweetup at BW3 on April 10th.