Our Summer prospect series continues with our #19 best prospect in the Blue Jackets organization, Calvin Thurkauf.
Reason for Ranking
My colleagues Sam and Paul are a bit lower on Thurkauf than I am. While Sam and Paul both had him at No. 19, I had him 14th overall, though I understand why they gave him a lower grade. After a stellar WHL career and an impressive World Junior Championships showing captaining Switzerland, Thurkauf began his professional career in Cleveland in 2017-18. It was an up and down year, with more down than up.
After a strong start – he had four goals in first eight AHL games last season – he cooled off in a big way. He was moved from center to the wing (and back again at the end of the year), and due to veteran depth like Zac Dalpe, Jordan Schroeder, Alex Broadhurst, and Nathan Gerbe, he saw his minutes decrease.
Between Nov. 18 and Mar. 25 (52 games!), he scored exactly one goal, before turning it on again at the end of the season. He scored five times in the final 10 games of the year, meaning that nine of his 11 goals came within two quick spurts.
His final stat line of 75 GP, 11-13-24, was good enough for eighth on the team in scoring.
Thurkauf turned 21 years old this summer. At this point, he reminds me a bit of Kerby Rychel in that he's a solid AHL player that leaves you wanting more. The talent is there for him to be a top-six AHL player, but the lack of consistency is a concern.
The natural counter to that is that he seems to play better when paired with better talent, but at a certain point he'll need to take hold of a line and force John Madden and his staff to give him an opportunity.
Best Case Scenario
Bottom six NHL center.
In his AHL rookie season, Thurkauf had a better statistical season than any of Lukas Sedlak's three AHL seasons. We all saw Sedlak take a massive step forward in the Calder Cup playoffs in 2015-16, and since then he's been in the NHL. Something similar could happen to Thurkauf, but I don't think anyone's betting on that (which is also similar to Sedlak).
Still, he's a bit of a Swiss army knife (pun absolutely intended) and he does enough well that he could be serviceable as a bottom-six forward who can play center, kill penalties, and play with an intensity that teams will always covet.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Thurkauf is an aggressive player that is sound defensively and has a fair amount of skill. He's at his best when he plays with an edge. His versatility makes him more valuable.
As mentioned before, his lack of consistency is something he'll need to shore up. He also needs to shoot the puck more. His 10.9% shooting percentage is solid, but his 101 shots in 75 games is laughably low.
Follow 1st Ohio Battery