Development camp is a great opportunity for players and fans alike. Players get a chance to meet future teammates and get a great opportunity to learn from NHL coaches and players. For the fans, it’s a great opportunity to see the new recently-drafted players and check out others who you may not have seen before.
Dan Dukart did a great job going through every player at devo camp giving a short synopsis on each player. The Blue Jackets invited 30 players to camp, 17 of which were free agent invites (players who were not drafted but are of some interest to the organization). In the past we have seen the organization invite players like Kole Sherwood, Dante Salituro, and Sam Vigneault who they ended up signing to entry-level contracts.
Carson Meyer hasn’t signed, but he was a free agent invite in 2016 and ended up drafted by the Jackets as a re-entry player in 2017.
Looking at the free agent invites this season, a couple of names jump out as players that could be signed or possibly drafted next summer.
Asselin is a centre who plays for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL. He was picked up at the trade deadline by the Titan where he had 11 points in 10 games down the stretch. He followed that up with 11 points in 20 playoff games as the Titan won the QMJHL Championship. Where Asselin really stood out was in the Memorial Cup. He starred in the tournament, scoring five goals in four games helping the Titan win their first-ever Memorial Cup.
Asselin is a small, skilled player. He will be returning to the Titan for his over-age season and if he has a big year it wouldn’t be a shock to see him sign an NHL contract.
This is the big name to keep an eye on this season. Moskal was a line-mate with Blue Jackets first round pick Liam Foudy. Like Foudy, Moskal had a slow start to the season in a depth role but picked things up after the trade deadline. Moskal had 19 of his 26 points after the deadline, coming in just 28 games. This is someone the Jackets are going to see a ton of next season and if he continues to play well in an increased role, he’s a prime candidate to get selected as a re-entry player next summer.
Ahcan is an undersized defenseman playing at St. Cloud State in the NCAA. He’s an offensive minded player who had 23 points in 40 games this season. Those 23 points sandwiched him between Mario Ferraro (Sharks second round pick) and Cale Makar (Avalanche fourth overall pick) among under-21 NCAA defencemen. Ahcan would be a nice supplement to the Jackets defense pipeline, they have a lot of size already, Ahcan brings speed, which the Jackets covet, and a good ability to move the puck.
Ahcan is entering his junior year at St. Cloud so signing him is unlikely. He seems like a player that might end up like Meyer, drafted as a re-entry player. It was a bit of shock to not see him drafted already considering he played on the U.S. World Junior team in 2016-17. If he’s not drafted he should be a popular target as an NCAA free agent when his four years are done.
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