Blue Jackets 2009-10 NCAA prospects update

By Chris Roberts

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a deep interest in the NCAA with a total of 11 prospects playing at the collegiate level.

Kevin Lynch, C – U. of Michigan
6’1", 192 lbs.
Acquired: 2nd round, 56th overall, 2009

Lynch was drafted in the second round for his ability to play at both ends of the ice equally well. While he hasn’t exactly been filling the net as a freshman, Lynch has been adequate for Michigan filling a role on the bottom two lines.

Lynch’s offensive game has improved over the past month. He finally scored his first goal on December 29th and on January 9th, the Michigan native recorded the best game of his young collegiate career, registering three assists in a game against Western Michigan. Lynch is currently behind Matt Rust (FLA) and David Wohlberg (NJ) on the center depth chart, but heading into next season, he should see a steady rise in ice time.

Sean Collins, C – Cornell University
6’3", 184 lbs.
Acquired: 7th round, 187th overall, 2008

Collins is no doubt a work in progress for the Blue Jackets. He is best described as a hard-working energy player who brings a lot of character in the locker room, but his offensive production has been improving this season. Collins has four goals through 16 games thus far compares to just three goals in 33 games his freshman year. Next year will be a telling one as to the direction that Collins’ career path follows.

Jake Hansen, RW – U. of Minnesota
6’1", 182 lbs.
Acquired: 3rd round, 68th overall, 2007

Hansen is in a position similar to that of Collins. The 20-year-old is progressing slowly in his sophomore season, having netted five goals in 23 games, as opposed to last season in which he scored just two in 33. Nonetheless, his stock has dropped somewhat since being drafted in the third round of 2007 as he was expected to play a larger role offensively. To his credit, Hansen can also be effective playing a physical game, and he has by no means looked out of place this season. While his play has progressed, he will likely need show continued improvement to factor in the Blue Jackets long-term plans.

Cameron Atkinson, RW – Boston College
5’9", 168 lbs.
Acquired: 6th round, 157th overall, 2008

Atkinson has perhaps been the biggest surprise of all the Blue Jackets prospects this season. The sixth-round pick in 2008 had a solid freshman campaign last season, but has emerged as one of the top players for Boston College this year, averaging over a point per game. His 13 goals in 22 games are enough to lead the team.

Atkinson’s biggest problem always has been, and remains, his size. At just 5’9, it is necessary that the speedy winger adds muscle and weight before turning pro. If Atkinson’s offensive game continues to rise and he adds weight to his frame, there is no doubt he’ll have a chance to prove himself at the pro level to be a late-round steal.

Trent Vogelhuber, RW – Miami University
6’2", 186 lbs.
Acquired: 7th round, 211th overall, 2007

Vogelhuber proved to be an efficient energy forward as a freshman for Miami last season. However, the Ohio native registered just four points in 29 games. It was hoped that Vogelhuber could provide more offense as early as this season, yet he’s on the same pace as he was last season, with just three points in 22 games. He has a history of knee problems which may hinder any progress expected from the 21-year-old, but it appears that if he is to have a career at the NHL level, it will be no more than as an energy player.

Cody Goloubef, D – U. of Wisconsin
6’0", 195 lbs.
Acquired: 2nd round, 37th overall, 2008

Known primarily as a quiet defenseman possessing a sound defensive game in his first two seasons of collegiate hockey, Goloubef has been involving himself on the offensive side of the ice more frequently this season. He recorded a career high of 13 points in 36 games last season, and in just 22 games this season he’s almost matched that total with 12 points. His ability to move the puck up the ice and jump in on the rush has improved, and he already has a career high in assists with nine.

Goloubef is seeing top minutes on defense on a team that boasts a trio of first round picks on the blue line in Brendan Smith (DET), Ryan McDonagh (NYR) and Jake Gardiner (ANA). Add in John Ramage, an important piece to the United States’ blue line at the WJC, and Goloubef has been an important part of one of the top defense corps in the nation. He is currently tied for the team lead with a +16 rating as his defensive game continues to flourish as well.

Teddy Ruth, D – Notre Dame
6’1", 199 lbs.
Acquired: Via Trade

Ruth is a stay-at-home, shut-down defenseman. Not that it’s a bad thing, however, as Ruth has a ceiling somewhat similar to a Mike Komisarek type. He’s had trouble battling nagging injuries this season and was recently suspended for a single game for an act of retaliation after receiving a hit from behind. He’s appeared in just 14 games to date and has just one assist to his credit, but leads the team in penalty minutes with 43, despite having at least 10 fewer played than most. Ruth plays an in-your-face, punishing brand of hockey, and if he is going to have a successful NHL career, he’s got to maintain that edge, but keep it under control.

Will Weber, D – Miami University
6’4", 205 lbs.
Acquired: 2nd round, 53rd overall, 2007

During his draft year, Weber was regarded by some as a first-round talent. He eventually slid to the Jackets late in the second round, and as of now, it is a wonder that he did not slide further down the board. For a second rounder, he has been a disappointment thus far. One positive is that Weber has five assists, which surpass his total of the three he recorded last season in 38 games. He is also a +7, so he’s helping Miami, but given his draft position, more is expected from the towering blueliner.

Thomas Larkin, D – Colgate University
6’5", 221 lbs.
Acquired: 5th round, 137th overall, 2009

Larkin has risen to be perhaps one of the Blue Jackets’ most impressive defensive prospects this season. Larkin has size that can make him a valuable commodity at the NHL level should he continue to develop. Given his 6’5 frame, the Italian-raised blueliner has adequate skating. He needs to become more effective at using his size to his advantage, but outside of a few issues, his freshman season at Colgate has been a success. He leads the team in points by a defenseman with 11 in just 18 games. What’s noticeable is the fact that he has seen a more prominent role, especially offensively, than other NHL draft picks Jeremy Price (VAN) and Corbin McPherson (NJ), both of whom were drafted higher than Larkin.

Drew Olson, D – U. of Minnesota-Duluth
6’0", 206 lbs.
Acquired: 4th round, 118th overall, 2008

Olson is a typical defensive-defenseman with little offensive potential. Playing big minutes in the USHL last season, he only managed to record eight points in 39 games, and in his freshman season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the former fourth-round pick has just one assist in 19 games. With more experience, Olson’s sophomore season will be a good judgement as to his career potential.

Allen York, G – RPI
6’0", 206 lbs.
Acquired: 6th round, 158th overall, 2007

York has assumed the starting job for RPI this season, and has helped to carry the resurging school to a 12-11-1 record. York, himself, has gone 9-9-1, appearing in 20 games, posting a 2.78 GAA and a .905 save percentage, all of which are better numbers than his freshman seasons. York will likely play out his final two seasons at the collegiate level, and if his play continues to progress, he should earn a professional contract.