Prospect Mailbag: What Blue Jackets Prospect(d) Might Push for a Spot on the Team Next Season?

By Paul Berthelot on May 1, 2018 at 8:30 am
Jonathan Davidsson
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Welcome back to another edition of the 1st Ohio Battery prospect mailbag!

You can submit questions in the Forum and I’ll do my best to answer them. With the done this is going to be a much more regular feature as the focus shifts towards the draft.

Q: Please tell us more about (Jonathan) Davidsson. I was surprised to see him ranked so high on our prospects list earlier this week.

Jonathan Davidsson is one the prospect that I think is really going to surprise some people. Jarmo Kekalainen, unprovoked, brought him up at his end of season press conference, so this is someone the team is very high on. He was the second-leading scorer on his team in the SHL with 31 points in 52 games. He played on a good team as well, as they finished second in league in the regular season.  He’s a really good even strength scorer, but not so much on the power play.

He’s a right shot winger with speed to burn. Check out this goal from early in the season:

His teammate lobs the puck out of the zone and Davidsson just goes and gets it. He's an NHL level skater right now and could be someone who the Jackets take a long look at in training camp this year.

DARKNSTORMY: What are the chances Elvis comes over to North America next season? Are guys like Kevin Stenlund and/or Vitali Abramov ready for NHL action? If Andrew Peeke doesn't sign this summer will he go the way of Mike Reilly? Any sleepers (a la Nutivaara) with a chance to make the team next year?

Elvis’ contract in the NLA runs through the 2018-19 season. The deal was signed after the 2016 season and does not have an exit clause for the NHL (or KHL). We will not be seeing Elvis until the 2019 season at the earliest.

Abramov: yes. Stenlund: no. Players who score like Abramov did in the QMJHL, most were able to jump into the NHL right away and quickly became impact players. Abramov, in a small sample, has also shown he can play at the AHL level when he had four points in four games at the end of last season. Stenlund has played just seven games in North America, all with Cleveland, and had just two points. I think he needs an extended run in the AHL to get accustomed to small ice and the North American style of game.

I wouldn’t worry about Peeke just yet. He just finished his second season at Notre Dame, and doesn’t quite look ready to make the jump to pro hockey. The Jackets have his rights for two more seasons, meaning they have this summer and all of next summer to work out a deal before it’s even possible for Peeke to consider becoming a free agent the way Reilly did. If I was to guess I would say Peeke signs next summer. You don’t usually see players drafted high, like Peeke was, go the Reilly route as teams invested highly in these players. They do what they can to get them under contract.

Jonathan Davidsson, see above.

FRITSCHEPLEASE: What do you make of the Blue Jackets draft spot this year in the first round? Is there a possibility of getting a difference maker?

The Jackets will have the 18th overall selection in the first round. A couple recent players taken at that spot include Thomas Chabot, Alex Tuch and Teuvo Teravainen, so it’s certainly possible to find a good player from this spot. To find a difference maker late in the first round, you have to establish why that players “flaw,” i.e. why they fell and then determine how detrimental that flaw is. Things like size, competition level and injury are all major factors why players fall. I’ve been saying all along the Jackets should be targeting Ryan Merkley. An undersized defenseman but with top end skill level, he’s one of the better chances at becoming a difference maker, and will be available in the mid-first round.

MONGOOSEED7: Why do the Blue Jackets seem to avoid OHL prospects as of late? Do you think they have found an inefficiency elsewhere?

I believe they think that. I think they have been trying to avoid CHL players, and it makes sense for a couple reasons. European prospects and NCAA prospects’ rights can be held for four seasons after they are drafted, CHL players it’s only two. You get more time to evaluate these players. European players tend to be playing professionally, so they tend to be a little bit more ready for the rigors of the NHL when they come over. The other reason is you can just sign CHL players as undrafted free agents or as overagers. We saw the Jackets do that this season with Maxime Fortier.

Leslie: Whom might Torts be referring to in regards to the teams going to be younger next season?

Without being in Torts' head, it’s tough to say. Personally I hope he’s referring to Sonny Milano. Sonny needs to be playing consistent minutes next season. Not necessarily in the top six, but a top-nine scoring role with time on the power play would be ideal. Another possibility could be Abramov. With his play in the QMJHL these past two seasons he is banging on the door for a shot at the NHL. It would be amazing to see Abramov and Milano on the third line and just let them be. There would be problems defensively, but they would be so fun in the offensive zone.

Adam: (Kole) Sherwood readiness for at least AHL duty?

I think Sherwood is ready for the AHL. He’s having a really nice playoff run with the Kitchener Rangers. He has 14 goals and 25 points in 18 games thus far. He was eligible for the AHL this past season but the Jackets felt another year in the OHL would be best for him. He had a fine over-age season and is ready for that next challenge.

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