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August 14, 2013
Top 10 Prospects 2013
Columbus Blue Jackets

by Corey Pronman

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Full list of NHL Organizational Rankings

Columbus Blue Jackets Top 10 Prospects

1. Ryan Murray, Defense
2. Alexander Wennberg, Center
3. Boone Jenner, Center
4. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Left Wing
5. David Savard, Defense
6. Mark Dano, Center
7. Kerby Rychel, Left Wing
8. T.J. Tynan, Center
9. Mike Reilly, Defense
10. Dillon Heatherington, Defense

Organizational Ranking: 14th

System Overview:

Columbus' system is anchored by recent top draftees Ryan Murray and Alexander Wennberg, but they have a lot of quality talents beyond them. The Columbus pipeline is deep in players with tools, however, many of their prospects (after the top two) have notable question marks, with risks attached to their projections. This system could churn out a lot of good, young players, but there are scenarios where several of their top 10 players could underwhelm. Despite no goalies in their top 15, goaltenders Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo are intriguing prospects in this system.

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1. Ryan Murray, Defense
2011-12 Rank: 1st
Date of birth: 09/27/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 195
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 23 GP, 2 G, 17 P (Everett, WHL)
Acquired: First round, second overall in 2012 by Columbus

Year in Review: Murray looked good early on in the WHL, as well as in Under-20 play. He could have broken camp with Columbus prior to a shoulder injury that cost him most of his season.

The Good: Murray has clearly elite hockey sense and he embodies what one NHL source calls an all-situations, do-everything kind of player. He can shut down the opponent's best players with very keen positioning and awareness. He also has the offensive creativity and sense to join the play, as well as make good decisions with the puck. Murray will not blow anyone away with his offensive ability, but it is there, and his offensive potential grades as between above-average and high-end. He is a plus skater who moves very well in every direction, allowing him to recover quickly.

The Bad: Murray missed most of the season with a shoulder injury, and he needs to continue to gain strength. There is no real notable weakness to his game otherwise.

Projection: He could be a star as a number one defenseman.

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2. Alexander Wennberg, Center
2011-12 Rank: N/A
Date of birth: 09/22/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 183
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 46 GP, 14 G, 32 P (Djurgardens, Allsvenskan)
Acquired: First round, 14th overall in 2013 by Columbus

Year in Review: Wennberg got off to a decent start, and he played fourth line at the World Juniors, but he really took off in the second half. He was a top-six forward in the SEL-2, and he was given a lot of responsibility.

The Good: Wennberg is a well-rounded player who can assist his team in a variety of ways. He is a top-end skater with great speed and quickness. His best trait is his hockey sense, as he thinks the game at a plus level, evidenced by his great vision, his off-the-puck awareness, and his defensive reads. Wennberg has good skill to go along with an impressive two-way work ethic. He can play wing or center.

The Bad: Wennberg does not have a real glaring issue in his game other than a lack of dynamic offensive skill. He needs to continue to gain strength.

Projection: He could be a below-average top line forward.

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3. Boone Jenner, Center
2011-12 Rank: 4th
Date of birth: 06/15/1993
Age: 20
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 204
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 56 GP, 45 G, 82 P (Oshawa, OHL)
Acquired: Second round, 37th overall in 2011 by Columbus

Year in Review: Jenner was named a Third Team All Star in the OHL, and for long stretches, he was arguably one of the top players in the league.

The Good: Jenner has developed very well recently, and though his scoring numbers have ticked up, his true value lies outside of the counting stats. Jenner projects as a high-end defensive player, thanks to his great defensive game, off-the-charts work ethic, and good overall hockey sense. He hits anything that moves, he backchecks hard, and he draws a lot of penalties. His body is well developed, and he is unusually strong for a junior player. He is great on faceoffs, gets in the defensive lanes well, and sticks with his assignments. Jenner started to show more offensive creativity this year, displaying quality ability as a playmaker, with enough puck skills to make some plays.

The Bad: His skating is not as much of an issue as it was when he was drafted, but it is still not great, and continuous work in that area will help him as he turns pro.

Projection: He could be an above-average regular. Exactly what his offensive role will be is still debatable, but he has a decent chance to end up on a scoring line.

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4. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Left Wing
2011-12 Rank: 7th
Date of birth: 12/27/1990
Age: 22
Height: 5'9''
Weight: 180
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 74 GP, 21 G, 67 P (Springfield, AHL)
Acquired: Free agent

Year in Review: Audy-Marchessault had yet another great AHL season, finishing top 10 in league scoring for the second straight year, as well as getting a small cup of tea in the NHL.

The Good: Audy-Marchessault has all the offensive tools. He is a quick skater with good top speed. He is very skilled, bringing energy and a high pace, and makes a lot of plays with the puck. He has above-average all-around hockey sense. A former Rangers prospect, Audy-Marchessault is hard working; he battles for loose pucks, and he can kill penalties effectively.

The Bad: His only real issue is his size. Audy-Marchessault has some defensive value, but his value in the NHL likely has to come from offense, so the physical game question mark remains. He can be neutralized because of that weakness, sometimes enduring stretches without doing much.

Projection: He could be a second line forward.

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5. David Savard, Defense
2011-12 Rank: 2nd
Date of birth: 10/22/1990
Age: 22
Height: 6'2''
Weight: 223
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 60 GP, 5 G, 31 P (Springfield, AHL)
Acquired: Fourth round, 94th overall in 2009 by Columbus

Year in Review: Savard had another solid AHL season, and his all-around game progressed. However, he did not show enough to take the next step.

The Good: Savard is a heady puck mover who can make a good outlet pass, as well as be a significant asset on the power play. He has good overall hockey sense, as he reads the play coming and going towards him well. He has a good stick check, and he flashes good creativity. He has developed a strong frame, one that is capable of muscling opponents off of the puck.

The Bad: Savard's skating remains an issue, as he is fringe to below-average in that area. While his defense has improved, and he played tough minutes in the AHL, he can still have some lapses in his own end.

Projection: He has top-four potential, although he needs to start showing more at the NHL level soon.

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6. Marko Dano, Center
2011-12 Rank: N/A
Date of birth: 11/30/1994
Age: 18
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 183
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 3 G, 7 P, 9:37 ATOI (HC Sloval Bratislava, KHL)
Acquired: First round, 27th overall in 2013 by Columbus

Year in Review: Dano was just average in the KHL, but he was one of the top players at the World Juniors, and he played for Slovakia at the World Championships.

The Good: Dano has a lot of raw offensive ability. He is an agile skater that one scout described as slippery, and he has a powerful first step. He is a very good offensive thinker, with above-average to plus creativity and vision. Dano makes a lot of plays with the puck, and he can make difficult passes with consistency. Dano's decisions are quick, and he knows the plays he needs to make to create offense. He has a fine work ethic as well.

The Bad: Dano is small, and he projects as a fringe physical player at the top level. He needs to continue to gain strength, as well as work on his defense.

Projection: He could be a second line forward.

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7. Kerby Rychel, Left Wing
2011-12 Rank: N/A
Date of birth: 10/07/1994
Age: 18
Height: 6'1''
Weight: 205
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 68 GP, 40 G, 87 P (Windsor, OHL)
Acquired: First round, 19th overall in 2013 by Columbus

Year in Review: Rychel was one of the top scorers in the OHL, and he recorded his second straight 40-goal season.

The Good: Rychel is a talented scoring forward with above-average puck skills, good offensive instincts away from the puck, and a plus shot. He is also a gritty, hard-working player. He is dangerous on the man advantage; he can score in front of the net with his hustle and hand-eye coordination, and he also has a bomb to score from distance.

The Bad: Rychel's skating is average to below average, with work needed on his first step. His defense also needs some improvement. His pure offensive creativity is roughly average.

Projection: He could be a second line winger.

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8. T.J. Tynan, Center
2011-12 Rank: 3rd
Date of birth: 02/25/1992
Age: 21
Height: 5'8''
Weight: 165
Shoots: Right
Statistics: 41 GP, 10 G, 28 P (Univ. of Notre Dame, NCAA)
Acquired: Third round, 67th overall in 2011 by Columbus

Year in Review: Tynan saw a sharp decline in his production. He scored 1.23 points per game as a freshman, 1.05 as a sophomore, and just 0.68 as a junior last season.

The Good: Tynan is a highly-gifted puck possessor who can make a ton of plays. He sees the ice at a high-end level, with the ability to show some flash in terms of his playmaking. Tynan also has plus puck skills, and combining that with good speed and lower body power allows him to be a very shifty player. He has become better defensively, and he can kill penalties.

The Bad: Size and production are the two major concerns for Tynan. The size issue will always remain, but even though Tynan looked good during the year, seeing a college junior's production drop so suddenly (especially given that he still shot about 11%) is concerning.

Projection: He could be a top-six forward.

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9. Mike Reilly, Defense
2011-12 Rank: 6th
Date of birth: 07/13/1993
Age: 19
Height: 6'0''
Weight: 174
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 37 GP, 3 G, 11 P (Univ. of Minnesota, NCAA)
Acquired: Fourth round, 98th overall in 2011 by Columbus

Year in Review: Reilly entered the year with high expectations, and while he did not blow the doors down in the NCAA, he had a decent year, albeit with ups and downs. He also played an average role for USA in their gold medal win at the World Juniors.

The Good: When you think of Mike Reilly, you think of a defenseman with upside, plain and simple. At any given moment, he can pull off a highlight reel play. He is a high-end skater, puck handler, and passer. His footwork is good, as he glides well after each step. He has a powerful stride, as well as excellent top speed. Reilly's creativity is top notch; he has the ability to see teammates in difficult spots and he can make plays through tight lanes.

The Bad: Reilly is still a bit of a work in progress. His defensive play can leave a bit to be desired in terms of his positioning. Due to his aggressive offensive nature, he can open his team up to counterattacks a tad too much. He will make stops, as well as have some good defensive games, but when he is off in his own end, he is clearly off. He also still has a slight frame, meaning he can be outmatched physically.

Projection: If he pans out, he will be a quality top-four defender who plays on a top power play unit.

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10. Dillon Heatherington, Defense
2011-12 Rank: N/A
Date of birth: 05/09/1995
Age: 18
Height: 6'3''
Weight: 196
Shoots: Left
Statistics: 71 GP, 4 G, 27 P (Swift Current, WHL)
Acquired: Second round, 50th overall in 2013 by Columbus

Year in Review: Heatherington was a quality shutdown defenseman in the WHL, and he played a top role for Canada at the U18 Championship. He earned a World Junior camp invite.

The Good: Heatherington is a very solid shutdown defenseman with good hockey sense. He makes a lot of good reads and he never shows any panic, be it trying to stop a high-speed rush or getting pressure on the forecheck. He is a mobile defenseman who stays with his checks very well and he makes stops with his speed, stick checks, and physical play. Heatherington makes a good first pass, and he does not hurt his team.

The Bad: His main issue is his offensive upside, as he is not an overly skilled player. He does not project to be effective on an NHL power play.

Projection: He could be a second pairing defenseman.

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The Next Five

11. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Right Wing: A very productive player as a WHL rookie, Bjorkstrand is skilled and works hard, but he could stand to improve his skating.

12. Cody Goloubef, Defense: Goloubef took notable steps forward this year, showing solid value in both ends. He does not have a high ceiling, but he is on the cusp of being an NHL regular.

13. Michael Chaput, Center: Chaput struggled during the lockout, but he played better in the second half of the year. He has defensive value to go along with solid skill.

14. Lukas Sedlak, Center: Sedlak is a decent all-around player. He plays a tough brand of hockey, he backchecks well, and he can make some offensive plays, too.

15. Josh Anderson, Right Wing: Anderson does not have glowing point totals, but during every game he plays, he always looks like a positive. He is a plus skater with a good physical game, and he can make smart plays.

The Sleeper: Daniel Zaar, Right Wing

Zaar is a skilled forward with about average size, and he has the puck possession elements to amass points. He also has a good shot. He could find himself on Sweden's World Junior team.

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Columbus Blue Jackets Organizational Top 10

Players 22 or under as of 09/15/2013 or still considered a prospect as defined here.

1. Ryan Murray, Defense
2. Ryan Johansen, Center
3. Tim Erixon, Defense
4. Alexander Wennberg, Center
5. Boone Jenner, Center
6. Jonathan Audy-Marchessault, Left Wing
7. David Savard, Defense
8. Mark Dano, Center
9. Kerby Rychel, Left Wing
10. T.J. Tynan, Center

Johansen is difficult to read. He was good in the AHL during the lockout, where at times, he played over 20 minutes a game and showed significant skill. Still, he has had stretches in both the AHL and the NHL where he underwhelms, and he was fairly average during his time in the big leagues last season. He could be a number one center, but there is more uncertainty on Johansen than there was two years ago. Erixon played in all situations in the AHL, where he displayed great puck-moving skill. His NHL time was inconsistent, as he had very impressive stretches at times, but it was also evident that he still has to work on getting stronger, as well as adjusting to the NHL level of play.

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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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (08/21)
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Top 10 Prospects 2013 (08/21)

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