And now, on to the top 5.
5 - Liam Foudy: The Jackets last first round pick (2018) built on his strong draft year showing to post 36-32-68 in 62 games for the London Knights of the OHL. He continued with his stellar play in the post seasons, dropping 6-6-12 in 11 games before getting the call to Cleveland where he potted a couple of goals in 8 games of action. Foudy finds himself in a tough spot this season due to age restrictions - he either has to make the Jackets team or spend the season back in the OHL because he's still just 19. With the documented struggles of Wennberg in a middle 6 role, maybe Foudy can prove he's worth a look - at least for 9 games, where after that the first year of his contract gets "burned" - before he probably settles back in for his final year of Canadian juniors. But who knows, Foudy trying to beat out Wennberg, Jenner, and Foligno for a middle 6 center position could be a training camp battle to watch.
4 - Emil Bemstrom: Perhaps the most buzzed about CBJ prospect this offseason, Bemstrom is going to try to make the big club after leading the SHL in goals last season. He's trying to work his way into one of the deepest positions on the team at RW, but if he's good enough someone will have to shift over to the left side. Jarmo Kekalainen has raved about Bemstrom for months now and though he's unable to play in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament due to injury, we'll likely see him make things very difficult on management and the coaches in terms of bringing him on full time with Columbus.
3 - Vladislav Gavrikov: It looked like the big Russian defender might come to Columbus two seasons ago, but he opted for a 2-year KHL contract so he could represent his home country (or, specifically, Olympic Athletes of Russia) in the Olympics. In his (probably) final KHL season, Gavrikov posted career bests of 5 goals and 15 assists, and then immediately found himself in the NHL playoffs where he didn't look too out of place in a couple games against Boston. With everyone now healthy, he faces a tough training camp just to make the team. He'll be battling it out with Scott Harrington and Dean Kukan for the 6th and 7th D spots on the team (at least, until Ryan Murray gets injured).
2 - Alexandre Texier: The Frenchman, who turns 20 next week, had a busy 2018-2019. He posted career bests of 14 goals and 27 assists in 55 games for Finland's KalPa. From there, he got the call to Cleveland where he didn't look out of place putting up 5-2-7 in 7 games. He saw action in the final two Jackets regular season games, notching a goal. He earned the trust of Torts and earned a spot for the playoffs. He scored two in the Game 4 clincher against Tampa Bay, including the opening goal on the power play. He struggled against Boston, to the point he was healthy scratched a couple of times. In addition to making an appearance in one Monsters playoff game, he also played 7 games for France at the World Championship. He's probably got a top 9 forward spot locked down, but you just never know how these things go (see: Gabriel Carlsson a couple years ago). It will be interesting to see if the team views him as a LW or C long term.
1 - Elvis Merzlikins: At long last, the 2014 3rd round pick is finally set to join Columbus in North America. Jarmo Kekalainen declared him the best goalie not in the NHL this past year. He has posted some absurd stats for his native Latvia on the international stage and has backstopped HC Lugano of the NLA in Switzerland for the last five seasons. With Sergei Bobrovsky now on the beach in Florida, Elvis has a wide open opportunity for one of the two goalie spots in Columbus - he'll challenge Joonas Korpisalo for the starting position in camp, but many expect the team to utilize them in tandem. If fans don't know already, they'll soon find out Elvis does not have a typical personality of a goaltender, which should surely make for a fun season.