31 in 31: Top Ten Prospects Vol. 9 – Columbus Blue Jackets

Welcome back to my 31 in 31 top ten prospects series.

Yesterday, we took a look at the Colorado Avalanche farm system and did some analysis on who will be representing the Avs in the future, with prospects such as Cale Makar, Conor Timmins, and Martin Kaut leading the pack. For the ninth edition of my series, today we’re going to be taking a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets and who they will have representing the cannon in the near future. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. Kevin Stenlund (C, 2nd Round, 58th Overall in 2015)

The 2015 NHL draft was so loaded with talent that you could look at the second round and almost consider it to be another 1st round in terms of depth. Stenlund was the Jackets’ second round pick in 2015 and with a game that’s said to be pure two-way with good size and a growing ability to score, the Jackets’ may have found a gem in Stenlund. He currently has 13 points in 23 games playing for the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL.

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2. Vitali Abramov (LW, 3rd Round, 65th Overall)

It’s obviously way too early to tell, but in terms of draft rankings and projections, the Jackets may have gotten a steal in Abramov back in the 2016 Draft. He was projected as high as mid to late first round and the Jackets managed to get him in the third round. He’s definitely not the biggest of players at 5’9 and 172 lbs, but he torched the QMJHL last season and is off to a decent start in the AHL with nine points in his first 23 games.

3. Veini Vehvilainen (G, 6th Round, 173rd Overall in 2018)

In his final year of draft eligibility, the Jackets decided to take a chance on the Finnish netminder, and so far it looks like they made the right choice. Vehvilainen is taking the SM-Liiga and making it his own league this season, where he has a record of 14-2-3 with a goals against average of 1.36 and a save percentage of .940. With stats like these, it’s hard to believe that Vehvilainen will be overseas for much longer.

4. Emil Bemstrom (C, 4th Round, 117th Overall in 2017)

Every draft has a few Swedish players taken in the middle rounds who are nobodies at the time but end up being incredibly underrated prospects. Bemstrom, for example, doesn’t turn 20 until June but he’s already doing great things with Djurgardens IF of the SHL with 15 points in 23 games. He’s known to have an uncanny ability to retrieve pucks and find scoring chances up close, so he could end up being a diamond in the rough for the Jackets.

5. Jonathan Davidsson (RW, 6th Round, 170th Overall in 2017)

After drafting Bemstrom in the 4th round in 2017, the Jackets decided to scoop from the same pot and draft Bemstrom’s teammate in Jonathan Davidsson. While he’s two years older than Bemstrom, he’s also having a great season with Djurgardens with 10 points in his first 15 games. He has great vision and could be making the trip to North America if his play continues at this pace.

6. Liam Foudy (C, 1st Round, 18th Overall in 2018)

Projected to go later in the first round, the Jackets took a chance on Foudy in the 2018 NHL Draft and so far, he’s looking like a good one. Currently in his 3rd OHL season, the Toronto native is sporting an A on his jersey and currently has 25 points in 24 games with a great chance to make Team Canada at the World Juniors this year.

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7. Alexandre Texier (C, 2nd Round, 45th Overall in 2017)

It’s incredibly rare that you find a hockey prospect hailing from France, but the Jackets scoped one out in 2017 and so far it’s looking like a great pick. The Grenoble native is spending this season playing for KalPa of the SM-Liiga and has 15 points through his first 25 games. He’s said to be a great skater with great hands and a great forechecking game, so it will be interesting to see if he can translate this game to the pros in North America.

8. Elvis Merzlikins (G, 3rd Round, 74th Overall in 2014)

A Latvian net-minder spending his entire hockey career playing for HC Lugano in Switzerland, Merzlikins is having another great season where he sports a goals against average of 2.35 and a save percentage of .923. While Merzlikins was said to be the Jackets’ top goaltending prospect, with the recent emergence of Veini Vehvilainen, there’s a new level of competition between the two prospects.

9. Gabriel Carlsson (D, 1st Round, 29th Overall in 2015)

Carlsson was drafted while playing for Linkoping HC of the SHL, and while his stock has somewhat dropped with the emergence of other prospects, Carlsson still has a real shot to be a future top four or top six defenseman for the Jackets. He’s currently in his second full AHL season and has seven points in 20 games thus far.

10. Eric Robsinson (LW, Undrafted, Signed in 2018)

After a very successful season playing for Princeton University of the ECAC, Robinson earned himself an entry level contract with the Blue Jackets and is currently under development in their organization. With 17 points in his first 25 games, Robinson has a decent chance to develop into a solid bottom or middle six winger with the Jackets.

Thanks for reading! Tune in tomorrow where we’ll go over the Dallas Stars organization and some of the top youngsters they have.

stats from eliteprospects.com

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Author: Alex Hobson