The end is finally here for the 1st Ohio Battery summer prospect rankings. The Blue Jackets depth isn't as stout as it once was but possible NHLers litter the list from #1 all the way to #20.
We covered the long-term and long shot prospects with 20 through 16. The projects and players missing a demonstrable edge over other players were highlighted in 15 through 11. 10 through 6 showed off blue chip players but also players that need to round out their game.
Now we get to 5 through 1 where these players could feasibly compete and play on the Blue Jackets as quickly as this upcoming season.
These are players 5 through 1, as selected by the 1st Ohio Battery staff.
5. Elvis Merzlikins
Merzlikins is as finished of a prospect as you're going to get in the league today. He has competed in the Swiss League for more than three years and has played for his national team over that same period of time. He hasn't just done satisfied front office types, he has excelled in every role given to him.
Essentially playing a waiting game until Merzlikins' contract runs out, the Blue Jackets will hold onto his rights until he is done playing with HC Lugano in the Swiss National League (NLA). It is a painful pill for the Blue Jackets to swallow but the payoff will be worth it.
4. Sonny Milano
Considered a disappointment by some, Milano has scored and succeeded at every stop he has played in his short career. Having led the Cleveland Monsters in scoring last season, Milano has shown his worth at the American Hockey League (AHL) level. His defense, an area of concern for scouts will be the knock against him as he tries to compete for a spot with the Blue Jackets.
Short of completely dominating the AHL, Milano is ready for the NHL. Given the logjam on the wings, it doesn't look likely that he will graduate to the big leagues. However, Milano can be dazzling as well as mesmerizing, if he can use that in a practical manner during the preseason, he could stick.
3. Gabriel Carlsson
A defensive-defenseman made in the mold of players from a bygone era, Carlsson is a large smooth skating sight to behold. Carlsson received significant playing time last season despite playing in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) for most of the year. Joining the Blue Jackets so quickly, he did not miss a beat only showing off his poise.
Carlsson is going to make an impact with the Blue Jackets but it isn't immediately clear how he will contribute. It appears given the lack of roster overhaul that Carlsson will be an extra defenseman for head coach John Tortorella and assistant coach Brad Shaw. How is role evolves will make for a compelling storyline all year long.
2. Vitaly Abramov
Voted as the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's (QMJHL) most valuable player in 2016-17, Abramov's limit is not yet known. While only standing at five-foot-nine, Abramov is an offensive dynamo that the Blue Jackets don't see come into their system often.
Translating his game may be difficult but after playing for the Monsters for a short period of time, he is ready for the big time. The bright lights never seem to effect Abramov. He accepts the challenges given to him and he continues to shine through it all. Abramov is a special player but where he actually lands as a full-time NHLer is the biggest question facing him.
1. Pierre-Luc Dubois
There was a reason Dubois was selected at the top of his draft, he is a player that can make an entire crowd appreciate every aspect of his game. With size and touch that is nearly unrivaled for his age, Dubois draws comparisons to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. While that comparison is silly, the skill set is there for Dubois. He has the tools in his kit, he just hasn't put them together consistenly since being drafted.
The inconsistency in his performance is disturbing for any Blue Jacket fan. His rough style of play also doesn't do him any favors with the referees either. Dubois is going to be given every chance to make the team out of training camp. Whether or not he makes it will reveal a lot about the player. Dubois doesn't have anything to lose.