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July 17, 2011
Top 10 Prospects
Columbus Blue Jackets

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

The Columbus Blue Jackets Top 10 Prospects

1. Ryan Johansen, Center
2. David Savard, Defense
3. John Moore, Defense
4. Cam Atkinson, Right Wing
5. Tomas Kubalik, Right Wing
6. Michael Chaput, Center
7. Boone Jenner, Center
8. Will Weber, Defense
9. Cody Goloubef, Defense
10. T.J. Tynan, Center

Organizational Ranking: 12th

System Overview: While the odd eyebrow was raised here and there when Ryan Johansen went fourth overall last summer, there is no question in the industry now that Johansen is an elite prospect and on a direct path for great things—that gives this system a tremendous anchor at their number one spot. David Savard has steadily progressed every year, and this season in the AHL he showed the signs of being a true top-tier defense prospect.

The Blue Jackets have a fine mix of upside and projection at both skater positions. Each of their top six prospects showed great progression this year, while in the 2011 draft they took a projectable center in Boone Jenner and a heck of a home run pick in T.J. Tynan. This system isn't overly deep beyond their top ten, but the prospects they do have are quality names with several being of the top-tier variety.

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1. Ryan Johansen, Center
Date of birth: 07/31/1992
Age: 18
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 63 GP, 40 G, 92 P (Portland-WHL)
Acquired: First round, fourth overall in 2010 by Columbus

The Good: Johansen is one of the most complete prospects in hockey and is on a bee line path to one day being a fine first line center for the Blue Jackets. He's regularly described as a "do-it all player" with no glaring weakness. He's gotten significantly better since last season when he went fourth overall. His skating took a jump forward and he regularly shows solid to above-average skating ability and well above-average for a man his size. He's a solid puckhandler who is very coordinated for his size and combined with his above-average to plus hockey sense he shows great creativity, vision and distribution ability. Johansen has a decent shot, but is more of a pass-first type of player. He's continued to grow physically and is a player now who projects to be a plus physical player in the pros. He shows no hesitation to lay out a big hit, is incredibly hard to get the puck from when he tries to protect it and has great balance on his skates. Johansen shows an above-average defensive game with a long reach that can frustrate opponents. He shows a willingness to backcheck hard, he plays his checks tight and physical and is relied on for key faceoffs.

The Bad: There really is next to nothing to put here. Like all kids his age and size he needs to fill out a bit, and the only real issue I've seen with him is that he forces the big-play pass a little too much.

Projection: Stands a chance to be an above-average first-line center with good two-way contribution and a couple of All-Star appearances. He most likely ends up a decent first-line center and if everything goes completely wrong an above-average second line pivot.

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2. David Savard, Defense
Date of birth: 10/22/1990
Age: 20
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 217
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 72 GP, 11 G, 44 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 94th overall in 2009 by Columbus

The Good: The CHL defenseman of the year in 2009-10 moved onto the pro game and continued his success. He had an adjustment period in the first few months and considering his end of year counting numbers that makes his season even more impressive. Savard is a plus thinker who regularly gets praise for his vision, awareness and decision making. He's a smooth puck-mover who can execute above-average distributions with ease and is a true top-end power play quarterback. He has a good frame which has filled out somewhat and is physically ready for the NHL next season. He displays a fine physical defensive game, sticking to his checks tight and he plays well in front of the net. Savard shows an above-average defensive game and thinks the game well in his own end.

The Bad: Savard is a fringe to below-average skater whose north/south game is fine but he is a little awkward with his footwork and his first few steps and lateral movement could use some work. He's a great puck-mover, but not really a flashy puck handler. I've heard conflicting things about his shot—some praise it while some say it is below-average.

Projection: Hopefully, an average first pairing defenseman, but he can safely project as an above-average second pairing defender.

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3. John Moore, Defense
Date of birth: 11/19/1990
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 200
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 73 GP, 5 G, 24 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: First round, 21st overall in 2009 by Columbus

The Good: Moore is a very gifted skater and the tool grades as plus if not beyond. There are really no flaws to the tool and he does everything at a high level. Moore can get to top speed quickly, that top speed reaches a high level, he's very fluid in his movement and has terrific agility and edge work. He has the ability to threaten the opposition by jumping into the rush and putting defenders on their heels and can still be the first man back with his recovery speed. He's a decent puck-mover, not an above-average one but he can make a fine first pass and can handle the puck well while moving. Moore transitioned to the pro game well, earning an AHL All-Star invite while showing good work ethic on and off the ice and will push to break with the team next season. His frame wouldn't suggest it as he's a little slight, but he has a fair amount of strength.

The Bad: Moore can still be too aggressive in his decision-making and needs to curl in some bad habits such as trying to be the fourth forward at times. He's got a fair amount of strength, but taking it to another level will help his pro prospects next season. I don't know if he'll ever be above-average defensively and he still shows some gaffes here and there but it's plausible to think he can be decent.

Projection: At best, an above-average second pairing defenseman, but likely ends up an average second pairing defender.

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4. Cam Atkinson, Right Wing
Date of birth: 06/05/1989
Age: 22
Height: 5'8''
Weight: 175
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 39 GP, 31 G, 52 P (Boston College-Hockey East)
Acquired: Sixth round, 157th overall in 2008 by Columbus

The Good: Atkinson is a highly skilled forward with a dynamic element to his game. Those qualities have some people in the industry believing he has what it takes to be one of those special small forwards. He's a plus puck handler who is superb when he has the puck on his stick. Atkinson has quick, deceptive hands and has the ability to embarrass defenders while also having the quick hands and refined passing technique to move the puck around quite well. He's an above-average skater who is quite agile and accelerates very well. Atkinson has a plus shot and can score from way out with a very hard shot or will go hard to the net to get goals. He is willing to play physical despite his frame and has the kind of intangibles that make smaller forwards successful.

The Bad: The size is the only thing holding Atkinson back from being not only a good player, but potentially a star. He's very small, and will have his size mentioned every step of the way until he proves he can overcome it.

Projection: He has the ability to be an above-average second line winger, and if he can't make it as a scorer, there is some chance he can play on an energy line.

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5. Tomas Kubalik, Right Wing
Date of birth: 05/01/1990
Age: 21
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 215
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 76 GP, 24 G, 53 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: Fifth round, 135th overall in 2008 by Columbus

The Good: Kubalik had quite a strong first professional season and showed that he could push for an NHL bottom six job in the very near future. He has above-average size and his strength was already at a pro level if not beyond before his 21st birthday. Kubalik plays a power forward game and shows no hesitation from driving the net, going at players hard on the forecheck and using his body along the walls. He was a player Springfield planted in front of the net on the power play to screen the goalie, take up space and pick up cheap markers. He shows fine defensive awareness, and his work ethic translates to his defensive game as well. While he's not an offensive stalwart, he shows the ability to be a decent goal-scorer and scores a lot from in tight.

The Bad: Kubalik is a fringe skater with really heavy feet and that's the main thing holding him back from potentially pushing his potential beyond that of a third line player. He's not a null offensive player, but his puck skills are below-average and he's certainly not a creator.

Projection: Possibly an above-average third line winger who safely projects into a bottom-six in some role.

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6. Michael Chaput, Center
Date of birth: 04/09/1992
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 188
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 62 GP, 25 G, 59 P (Lewiston-QMJHL)
Acquired: Trade from Philadelphia, drafted third round, 89th overall in 2010 by Philadelphia

The Good: Chaput has flown under the radar somewhat and while he has yet to score at a point-per-game rate in the Q, NHL sources believe there is the possibility he could one day slot onto a pro second line. Chaput has above-average puck skills and shows the ability to dangle with the puck to a degree and make defenders miss on top of being a decent distributor. He is a hard worker who goes full force into the offensive zone to pressure on the forecheck, and shows that same tenacity on the defensive side of the puck. He's an above-average defensive player whose two-way game is notably advanced for his age; he can project as a good penalty killer and faceoff guy at the highest level. For a 1992 birthdate, Chaput has a fine amount of strength as well.

The Bad: Chaput's skating is below-average and while he has shown improvements especially with his top gear, he does have a little lag in his step. He has a tendency to try and do too much with the puck at times. His frame could still use some filling out as well.

Projection: Below-average second line center with good two-way production with a realistic projection as an above-average third line center.

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7. Boone Jenner, Center
Date of birth: 06/15/1993
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 204
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 63 GP, 25 G, 66 P (Oshawa-OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 37th overall in 2011 by Columbus

The Good: Boone Jenner is a player who bleeds intangibles and gets regular reviews about his non-stop motor and how much he exerts himself on every second of every shift. He excels in the physical game and projects as above-average to plus in that regard as he's a bull in the corners and when he has the puck on the sideboards off the cycle. His defensive game at even-strength and on the penalty kill is solid and he's a player who a coach can trust to put out for defensive and late game situations. His main offensive skills are around the high percentage areas when it comes to finishing, protecting the puck and driving it to the net.

The Bad: His puck skills touch average and while I've seen him display solid vision and execution of passes, if he tries to do anything beyond his means it usually ends up with him looking bad. Jenner's skating tool grades at fringe level if not below and the tool in just about every component needs refining.

Projection: An above-average third line center who might be able to push to become a below-average second line player, and safely projects to be a fine top nine player.

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8. Will Weber, Defense
Date of birth: 10/28/1988
Age: 22
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 226
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 33 GP, 1 G, 11 P (Miami-CCHA)
Acquired: Second round, 53rd overall in 2007 by Columbus

The Good: The 2009-10 CCHA Defensive Defenseman of the Year showed more of the same this season. Weber employs a bone-crunching style of play in his own end but does so without making mistakes that would take him out of position. He's a plus-plus physical player with a big frame and regularly makes forwards pay the price for stepping on his side of the ice. He closes gaps well, and also displays an edge to his game that makes opponents wary. He displays fine awareness and his combination of sense and physical traits are more than ready for the pro game, although he is returning to college for his senior year.

The Bad: Weber isn't much of an offensive player, and is quite fringe when he has the puck on his stick and shouldn't be anything more than a basic puck mover at the highest level. His skating is below-average and while there is decent fluidity in his first few steps, he's not much of a speedster in the least.

Projection: Above-average third pairing defenseman in a perfect world, who at least will find some sort of role in the league.

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9. Cody Goloubef, Defense
Date of birth: 11/30/1989
Age: 21
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 50 GP, 5 G, 17 P (Springfield-AHL)
Acquired: Second round, 37th overall in 2008 by Columbus

The Good: Goloubef is an offensively-gifted defender who projects to be a fine puck-mover. He's the kind of defenseman you want being the first player on the puck coming from behind the net as he has good vision, poise and the ability to make a fine first pass. He also has the ability to create scoring chances by making plays beyond the basics with his distributions. Goloubef isn't an above-average skater, but he's a fine mover with a fluid stride and skates in all direction effectively. He has a decent shot and can wire blasts on the power play on top of being the main puck holder.

The Bad: Goloubef is physically fringe and while he has yet to completely shed the "soft" label that has been attached to him for years, in viewings I saw, there are signs that there is progression in that area. His defensive zone work is poor, most notably his ability to stay tight on his assignments and his pure offensive ceiling may be held back just because I'm not sure the coach will be able to trust him with big minutes. There were positive signs towards the end of the AHL season though that he was starting to come around.

Projection: Goloubef's ceiling is an average third pairing defenseman who is used as a power play specialist. His amount of minutes could vary depending how the next year or two of his development goes.

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10. T.J. Tynan, Center
Date of birth: 02/25/1992
Age: 19
Height: 5'8''
Weight: 165
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 44 GP, 23 G, 54 P (Notre Dame-CCHA)
Acquired: Third round, 67th overall in 2011 by Columbus

The Good: T.J. Tynan went undrafted after playing well in the USHL 2009-10, but this season he played very well and was one the best players on one of the nation's best college teams. He's an above-average skater whose top speed can touch plus; when he gets going in a straight line, he really jets up the ice. His mechanics are a little shaky, but he's made significant strides in that area since the start of last season. Tynan's puck skills are plus and it's evident on a consistent basis. He's tremendous in open ice, with a real flashy element to his game and is very hard to strip off the puck unless you can physically engage him. He's an above-average distributor as well, and if the defense backs off him, Tynan can find his teammates and hit their sticks with crisp passes. His shot is decent, and will suffice at the pro game but he won't score an above-average amount of goals from a distance.

The Bad: Tynan's physical game is his major liability as he has well below-average size at around 5'8", 165 lbs. and while he works hard, goes to the net and pesters opponents on the forecheck, he gets manhandled by bigger players in tight. Last season, teams physically keyed in on him and it wore Tynan down, but that wasn't the case as much this year.

Projection: The talent is there to be an average second line forward, but he's a ways away from that.

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The Sleeper: 2009 second round pick forward Kevin Lynch shows fine puck skills and has the ability to offensively produce even though he hasn't in two seasons at Michigan. He is still physically immature, but has the makings of a player who could have a big season in his junior year.

Extra Notes: Petr Straka has above-average skating and puck abilities and has the potential to be a scoring forward, but poor hockey sense and a fringe physical game have left questions about whether or not the 2010 second-rounder can really put it all together. Maxim Mayorov has a fine physical game and is a pro level skater who has a chance to end up as a bottom-six forward if he decides to stay in North America. His contract expires after this season.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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Front Office Focus (07/16)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Top 10 Prospects (07/15)
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Top 10 Prospects (07/18)
Next Article >>
Top 10 Prospects (07/18)

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