Many of the Columbus Blue Jackets' top prospects will be taking the ice later today, as the team opens up the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, MI, at 3:00 PM against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
We've already discussed three under-the-radar players worth monitoring at the tournament, but with the tournament starting today, here are three key storylines we'll have our eyes on as the weekend unfolds.
All Eyes On The Top Line
Tyler Angle was one of the players listed in the aforementioned article, and that's because the purpose of the piece was to avoid gushing over the elephant in the room. Joining Angle will be Yegor Chinakhov and Cole Sillinger, both of whom will be donning a Blue Jackets affiliated jersey in game action for the first time. Chinakhov was the club's first-round pick in 2020, and Sillinger was their second of three first-round selections earlier this year. They represent the future, absolutely, but also potentially the present. Expectations are high. Can they deliver?
If youre @CBJProspects, this tweet is for you. First #CBJ lines ahead of the trip to Traverse.— Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) September 15, 2021
Looking For A Defenseman
It wasn't long ago that the Blue Jackets boasted one of the top defense corps in the NHL, and also one of the youngest. With the trades of David Savard and Seth Jones, the organization is suddenly thin on top-four defensemen, particularly on the right side. Drafting Corson Ceulemans with their last of three first-round picks in 2021 helped stop the bleeding, so to speak, but it's probably not a stretch to say the next wave of Blue Jackets' defensemen is a bit of a question mark. Can any of Jake Christiansen, Tim Berni, Stanislav Svozil, or Ole Bjorgvik-Holm stand out in a meaningful way?
Can A Recent Draftee (other than Sillinger) Emerge?
This Blue Jackets prospect team has a couple of 'veterans', with players like Carson Meyer, Josh Dunne, and Christiansen coming in with meaningful AHL experience. On the same token, there are a lot of young guys that we haven't seen before. I'll be watching Martin Rysavy and Svozil, closely. But there are plenty of other new faces, like James Malatesta and Ben Boyd, that also bear watching. Can any of the 2021 draftees become difference-makers playing up several (or in some cases many!) years?