Injuries creating opportunities for several Columbus Blue Jackets prospects

By Richard Greco

Alex Wennberg - Columbus Blue Jackets

Photo: Columbus forward Alex Wennberg has not been overly productive in his rookie NHL season but has done enough to maintain a regular spot on the Blue Jackets roster. (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire)

 

Due to an injury plagued start to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked to their prospects to fill out the depth chart. While quite a few of the youngsters called up did not stick around for too long, Michael Chaput and Alexander Wennberg have both taken advantage of the opportunity and have skated in over 30 games with Columbus.

Alexander Wennberg, C, 20

Wennberg was part of a 2013 first round that should help shape the Blue Jackets for years to come. He was the first, at 14th overall, of three first round selections along with Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano. While all three players are forwards, each plays a different style. Wennberg is a playmaker with great instincts, Rychel plays with a ton of grit and Dano is a sound two-way forward.

As expected Wennberg came over and held his own in the NHL game. He started the season with the Jackets and besides a quick six game stint with the Springfield Falcons in early December, the 20-year-old has been with Columbus.

Although the bounces have not been falling in the Swedish center’s favor, he has been getting himself in the right position to make plays. He is often regarded as a pass first player so it makes sense that four of his five points were assists. He has seen his fair share of struggles and has a minus-20 rating in 36 games this year.

Wennberg potted his first career goal on December 22nd when he scored on the power play in a 5-1 loss to Nashville.

Michael Chaput, C, 22

After skating in 17 games with the Blue Jackets last year, Chaput started the season with Columbus. He saw time in 33 games and had a goal and four assists. His goal was the first of his NHL career. He centered Columbus’ fourth line through the first 18 games before being sent down to Springfield on November 20th. The stint did not last long and the 6’2 center returned to the Blue Jackets on November 29th. He remained with the team until January 4th before being returned to the Falcons. He has three goals and six assists in 12 games with Springfield.

Kerby Rychel, LW, 20

Rychel started the season with Springfield and adjusted to the professional game swiftly. He is second among Falcons’ forwards with 26 points, 12 goals and 14 assists, through 38 games. The 20-year-old bruiser made his NHL debut on November 29th and registered his first point on an assist to Boone Jenner in a 2-1 win over the Panthers on December 1st. He had three points before returning to Springfield midway through December.

Sean Collins, C, 26

Collins was called up to Columbus in early January and played in eight games before returning to Springfield. This marked the third straight year that the Saskatoon product was called up to the Blue Jackets. He is still searching for his first NHL goal. Collins had two assists in his eight games with Columbus this year. He has 19 points in 31 games with the Falcons.

Marko Dano, C, 20

There is no lack of confidence in Dano. An impressive camp earned him a spot on Columbus’ opening day roster. He scored his first goal in a two-point performance when the Jackets handled the Rangers, 5-2, on October 11th. The shift to the NHL game did not seem to faze Dano all too much after he skated with HC Slovan Bratislava in the KHL the past two years. Since being reassigned to Springfield, Dano has 13 points in 28 games.

Josh Anderson, RW, 20

The grinder made his NHL debut on January 16th and was held scoreless in four games for the Jackets before returning to Springfield. He was recently recalled back to the NHL. Anderson has 11 points in 39 games and sits at second on the Falcons with 58 penalty minutes.

Anton Forsberg, G, 22

Forsberg made his NHL debut on November 1st and made 26 saves in a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Devils. He gave up four goals in the first period of his second start and was chased from the game in a contest that the Blue Jackets inevitably lost to Tampa Bay 7-4. He has been successful in the AHL and has an 18-7-1 record with two shutouts.

2015 World Junior Tournament Update

Despite being held off the score sheet, Dillon Heatherington was a solid presence along the blue line during Canada’s run to the WJC gold.

Forward Sonny Milano showed off his offensive prowess for the US, which did not medal.

Oliver Bjorkstrand highlighted Denmark‘s roster with four goals and an assist in five games. Denmark finished in fourth place of the Group B pool.

Columbus Blue Jackets Prospect of the Month

Mike Reilly - Columbus Blue Jackets Prospect of the MonthMike Reilly has been an assist machine for the University of Minnesota this year. He leads the Gophers (11-9-2) with 24 points, four goals and 22 assists. The junior also has a team-high rating of plus-11. Reilly became the first defenseman in conference history to win B1G First Star of the Week honors this season.