An injury riddled start to the 2014-15 season forced the Columbus Blue Jackets to do a lot of shuffling between the AHL and NHL. That opened the doors for young players to get a taste of the NHL along with giving role players a chance to take on more ice time for the Springfield Falcons. The moves affected everyone from forwards to goaltenders.
Austin Madaisky, D, 22
In previous years, injuries, inconsistency and a strong core of defenders around him limited Austin Madaisky’s playing time and even forced him to the ECHL. This season, a healthy Madaisky has truly shown how effective he can be on the blue line.
The Surrey, BC native leads the Falcons with 29 points (nine goals and 20 assists) in 36 games. Madaisky’s improvement came a year after he posted just eight points in 38 games with the Falcons. This season is the first in which the defender has surpassed 10 points since his last season with the Kamloops Blazers during the 2011-12 season.
T.J. Tynan, C, 22
Tynan has provided Springfield with depth down the middle and will see an increase in minutes after Sean Collins was recalled following Cam Atkinson being placed on injured reserve. Tynan has put his playmaking on display and is second on the Falcons with 19 assists. He has seen limited time on the power play but will assume a bigger role with Collins in the NHL. Tynan has always been a pass first type of player, so it is encouraging to see him continue to play that style during his first professional season.
Will Weber, D, 26
After agreeing to a one-year contract with the Blue Jackets in the offseason, Weber has skated in 10 games for the Falcons, but has been held without a point. The Miami University product has continued his physical play and has racked up 27 penalties, but a hip injury has limited Weber’s playing time. He spent some time practicing with the Blue Jackets during the preseason, but was sent down to Springfield late in September.
Sean Collins, C, 26
The Blue Jackets recalled Sean Collins from the Falcons on December 30th following an injury to Atkinson. Through five games with the Jackets, Collins has two assists and a -1 rating. Collins has been serving on the wing of the fourth line with Michael Chaput and Jared Boll. He had 19 points (10 goals and nine assists) and as many penalty minutes through 28 games with the Falcons.
Kerby Rychel, LW, 20
Rychel made his NHL debut after being recalled to replace an injured Scott Hartnell. He tallied three assists in five games before returning to Springfield.
The 20-year-old winger has played strong in Springfield. He has 18 points (seven goals and 11 assists) and a +4 rating in 31 games. He has brought his gritty style along with him and has 30 penalty minutes. Rychel is quick on the trigger and leads the Falcons with 81 shots. He has been effective on the power play, where he potted three goals.
Thomas Larkin, D, 24
Larkin has cracked the Falcons’ blue line after spending a majority of last season with the Evansville Icemen. In Evansville, he began to harness his passing game and has 13 assists through 32 games with the Falcons this season. Larkin is not on the ice to score goals. At 6’5″ and 220 pounds, he is a stay-at-home defenseman with an extremely long reach. He has been upping his physicality since beginning his professional career at the tail end of the 2012-13 season. He has 45 penalty minutes on the season.
Lukas Sedlak, C, 21
Sedlak looks comfortable on the ice for his second professional season. After tallying 14 points in 54 games last year, he has already matched that total through the first 35 games of this season. He has had trouble earning playing time on special teams with the likes of Tynan, Collins, Marko Dano, and Chaput penciled in ahead of him on the depth chart, but he has been able to turn some heads when given opportunities during even strength hockey.
Marko Dano, C, 20
Dano started the season with the Blue Jackets and registered two points (a goal and an assist), both of which came in a 5-2 win over the Rangers on October 11th. Dano was sidelined with an undisclosed injury midway through October but returned the lineup on October 26th before he was reassigned to Springfield so that he could see more playing time.
The Austrian-born forward has taken advantage of the ice time and has 12 points in 24 games. He has been utilized on the powerplay and has been used to take a number of faceoffs. A ton of upside surrounds Dano and playing with Springfield will allow him to get accustomed to logging big minutes in the professional game.
Josh Anderson, RW, 20
Anderson has been providing grit since he joined London in the OHL four years ago. His first professional season has been no different. He has thrown his 6’3″, 212-pound frame around and has racked up 52 penalty minutes in 33 games. He has dropped the gloves three times this season while putting up four goals and six assists.
Anton Forsberg, G, 22
Forsberg proved that he was the front-runner to be Sergei Bobrovsky‘s next backup. The 22-year-old Swede was named the Falcons’ starting goalie. He has a 15-3-0 record, 1.76 goals-against average and two shut outs as he has found his form in the cage for Springfield. Forsberg was recalled to the pros following an injury to Bobrovsky and had a 5.32 goals-against average in 2 games.
Oscar Dansk, G, 20
Dansk has assumed the role of backup after competing against Forsberg for the starting job. At just 20 years, Dansk has plenty of time to continue his development in the American Hockey League. When Forsberg was recalled, the Falcons’ looked to Dansk to hold down the fort between the pipes. Through 10 games, Dansk has a 4-3 record with a 3.66 goals-against average.
Non-Minor League Prospect Update
The Blue Jackets had three players suit up for three different teams in the World Junior Championships. Sonny Milano represented the USA and managed two goals and two assists in five games. Dillon Heatherington played a shutdown role for Canada en route to a gold medal. Oliver Bjorkstrand was an alternate captain for Denmark, who competed in the WJC top division for the first time since 2012. Bjorkstrand led the attack for Denmark, managing four goals and one assist in five games.
Columbus Blue Jackets Prospect of the Month
Oliver Bjorkstrand was the heart of Denmark in the World Juniors and finished as their top scorer by a wide margin. Bjorkstrand’s best performance might have been in Denmark’s only win at the tournament, where he potted a goal and scored on the penalty shootout to lead the Danes over Switzerland, 4-3.
The 19-year-old has 41 points (22 goals and 19 assists) through 29 games for the Portland Winterhawks.