Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen Is Excited About the Organization's Top Prospects

By Paul Berthelot on April 30, 2018 at 10:18 am
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The Blue Jackets' prospect pool isn’t what it used to be.

They've graduated a lot of players to the NHL in recent years, and it takes time to replace them in the system. It’s no longer a deep system, but it’s still filled with quality prospects. Here’s what Jarmo Kekalainen had to say on some of those prospects:

Sam Vingeault

Vigneault actually had a really good start in the AHL this season with two goals and five assists in his first 10 games.

“Sam Vingeault before he got hurt in training camp was playing, looking like you know he’s got a chance to make our team and he gets hurt and he goes through a little bit of a struggle in the American League and then finally started playing really good in the American League,  he gets hit in the head a puck and that was his season."

That ended up as the best stretch of the season for him, as he finished with 15 points in 46 games. Now, 22 points in the AHL isn’t anything to write home about, but when you get this type of praise from the GM, you're given the benefit of the doubt. 

Alexandre Texier

“We got French centre Alexandre Texier who played an excellent, first year in the Finnish Elite League, and what’s the schedule on him developing into a National Hockey Leaguer? He’s going to play in the men’s World Championship starting next Friday. Another big step for him."

Texier was one of just 12 players age 19 or younger to play at least 20 games in the Liiga (Finland) this season. Among that group, Texier finished fourth in points with 22. This was a real nice season for him, and his first test playing hockey outside of France. It’s going to be really good for him to partake in the upcoming IIHF World Championship, which begins next week. He'll get a chance to play against NHL players, and experience another higher level of competition.

Vitali Abramov

What a year it was for Abramov. He had 104 points in 56 games, leading the QMJHL in points per game, after registering close to two points per game despite being traded mid-season. He carried Victoriaville to the conference semifinals where the bowed out to a much better team.

“He can score," Kekalainen said. "There’s one guy in our depth charts that can score. He scores everywhere he’s been. Whether he scores in the National Hockey League remains to be seen, but we should take a good look at it.”

It’s too bad the Cleveland Monsters had the poor year they did, because Abramov would have been a great addition had they made the playoffs.

Jonathan Davidsson

“Jonathan Davidsson in the Swedish League was excellent this year. (Has) top-end NHL speed right now. Played a significant role on Djurgardens, and had very good statistics and is a player that we think has a good chance of making our team next year.”

Davidsson was an interesting selection by the organization this past draft. He’s an older prospect, getting drafted at 20 years old, and his numbers didn’t jump off the page at you: 12 points in 44 games. After this season and seeing what Kekalainen said, they think very highly of this player. He broke out this season in the SHL with 31 points in 52 games, and then had eight in 11 playoff games. His contract in Sweden runs through the 2018-19 season, but it sounds like the Blue Jackets want to get him to North America sooner rather than later.  

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