The Jackets announced their Traverse City roster this past week and much was made about the free agents they invited. Notably they have just one defensive prospect, Ryan Collins attending, the rest are free agent invites. This speaks to the need for defencemen in the system but also to the fact that the Jackets top defensive prospects, are playing over in Europe. With that being said this is a great opportunity for some players who went undrafted to show what they can do and potentially earn themselves a contract or to put themselves on the radar to be draft next season.
Most of the defensemen invited are either older CHL players or veteran NCAA players. One name jumps out though and that is Caleb Everett. Everett was just passed over in this entry draft and as a 2000 born player he is two years younger than any defensemen on the team. He is someone who could emerge as a real NHL prospect. He was a rookie in the OHL last season playing for a subpar Saginaw Spirit team. He put up 20 points in 58 games, which ranked fifth among rookie defensemen.
At 6’2 he has the size teams look for. He is a mobile defensemen and is regarded for his play in his own zone. He doesn’t have the offensive flash or dynamic ability but he has shown he can put up points in junior. Consider this, in the first 26 games of his season he had 16 points. If he had of kept that pace up all season he would have definitely been drafted. He’s never played that many games before and he tired down in the second half leading to the poor performance. He’s someone to keep an eye on throughout the season and with a big year he’s a prime candidate to be drafted as a re-entry player next season.
Upfront a name that pops out is Yegor Sokolov. He reminds me a bit of Kirill Marchenko in that he’s a big skilled winger. Sokolov doesn’t have anywhere near the skating that Marchenko does which is why he went undrafted and Marchenko was a second round pick. Sokolov had a decent first season in the QMJHL; in 64 games he scored 21 goals and 42 points. His shot is his best asset so look for him to score some goals in Traverse.
Forwards Samuel Asselin, and Billy Moskal and defencemen Sam Dunn and Justin Wade are notable as well, as they were also invites to development camp in the summer. These are players that now have some history with the organization and may find themselves with a contract if they play well.
Of that group Moskal remains the most intriguing due to his youth and connection to Liam Foudy. I wrote a bit about him during devo camp and my thoughts remain the same. Playing with Foudy last season gave him a lot of exposure and if he does so again this season, this is a player the Jackets are going to see a ton of. He’s clearly someone the organization likes enough to bring out to these events. A strong season in London and he could very easily find himself as part of the Blue Jackets prospect pool.
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