Ryan Johansen highlights Blue Jackets current group of CHL prospects

By Chris Roberts
Photo: Drafted fourth overall in the 2010 entry draft, Ryan Johansen is viewed in some circles as a playmaking center capable of complimenting current Blue Jackets star Rick Nash. (Photo Courtesy of www.whl.ca)

Many of the Blue Jackets’ prospects can be found in either the AHL or NCAA. General Manager Scott Howson has continually shown a commitment to drafting players who plan on following the collegiate route, though this past NHL draft he made seven selections out of the CHL, all of whom have returned to their respective clubs for the 2010-11 season. Last season, the organization had six prospects in the CHL, but with each of them graduating to the pro-ranks this season, the seven selections from the 2010 Entry Draft are the only Blue Jackets’ prospects playing junior hockey this season.

QMJHL

Petr Straka, RW, Rimouski Oceanic
Acquired: 2nd round (55th overall), 2010
15 June 1992, Ht: 6’1, Wt: 186 lbs

After having an impressive regular and post-season in 2009-10, averaging over a point per-game, Straka has been unable to meet expectations in the early-goings of the 2010-11 season.

He actually started the season on quite a hot streak, scoring points in nine of his first ten games for Rimouski, and after getting a hat-trick in the final game of that streak, it seemed he was ready to break-out, though it hasn’t happened. In fact, rather than continuing to put up points, Straka hit a wall, going pointless in his next eight games. Worse than that, he was also a combined minus-8 in those eight games.

He is perhaps the most skilled player on a mediocre Rimouski team, and their success as a team certainly depends on how well Straka is playing; in his recent eight game pointless streak, Rimouski went just 2-6.

It gets worse for Straka. He’ll have to wait another month before he sees his name on the score sheet again as he’ll miss time with a broken thumb.

Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, G, Hailfax Mooseheads
Acquired: 4th round (102nd overall), 2010
27 September 1991, Ht: 6’6, Wt: 188 lbs

In looking at Corbeil-Theriault, it is painfully obvious to see that he wasn’t drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft for the numbers he posted last season: in 50 games, though on a basement-dwelling team, he only managed to win eight games, posting a 3.83 goals against average and a .883 save percentage. His club, the Halifax Mooseheads, have improved over the off-season, and Corbeil-Theriault has almost equaled his win total from last season in just 14 games, though that appears to be a product of an improved team rather than improved goaltending: in fact, Corbeil-Theriault’s save percentage has dipped even lower this season, sitting at just .863 percent.

The reason he was drafted as high as he was, which also appears to be painfully obvious, is the fact that at 6’6, he takes up much of the net simply standing still. He remains a project at best, but under the right goalie coach, could become a valuable asset between the pipes.


OHL

Dalton Smith, LW, Ottawa 67s
Acquired: 2nd round (34th overall), 2010
30 June 1992, Ht: 6’1, Wt: 195 lbs

Ottawa 67’s Dalton Smith wasn’t completely off the board, but perhaps a bit of a surprise pick, especially considering Brad Ross (TOR), who plays a similar game to Smith and was a linemate of Blue Jackets’ first round pick Ryan Johansen, was still on the board. Nonetheless, Smith had an impressive 2009-10 campaign, notching 21 goals and 129 penalty minutes, prime numbers for a future prototypical power-forward.

This season, however, hasn’t been a joyride for Smith. He’s continued to pile up penalty minutes, leading his team with 50, but his three points in 17 games is the least amount for a forward with any significant amount of games played. Certainly, he’s performed the role of an agitator well this season, but for an early second round pick, expectations are much higher.

The 67’s are currently third in the Eastern Conference with 72 goals scored, which makes the fact that Smith has only been able to score two goals more concerning.

Brandon Archibald, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Acquired: 4th round (94th overall), 2010
31 March 1992, Ht: 6’3, Wt: 200 lbs

Archibald, playing for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, has been quietly building off an impressive 33 point 2009-10 season. In 17 games this year, the eighteen-year-old is leading his team in points by a defenseman with nine, and is just a minus-1, which is impressive given the fact that the Greyhounds have a goal differential of minus-11.

He has become the team’s top defenseman this season, and will likely remain so for the rest of the season, barring a trade deadline deal to join a contender.

Dalton Prout, D, Barrie Colts
Acquired: 6th round (154th overall), 2010
13 March 1990, Ht: 6’2, Wt: 201 lbs

While the other Dalton has struggled offensively this season, Dalton Prout, a perennial stay-at-home agitating defenseman, has broken out on the offensive end of the ice this season. His 21 points last season was a vast improvement over his past three seasons, as his previous career high was six, but 11 games into the 2010-11 season, as an overager, he is ready to set a new career high; with 12 points in those 11 games, he leads the Barrie Colts in scoring by a defenseman. Not too mention, he has played six less games than most.

More impressive than that, his minus-2 is one of the better plus/minus ratings on a team that has suffered a goal differential of minus-21 this season. Prout has easily been the Colts’ top defenseman early in the season and, though playing against mostly younger players, is exceeding expectations. He also leads the team in penalty minutes with 30.

WHL

Ryan Johansen, C, Portland Winterhawks
Acquired: 1st round (4th overall), 2010
31 July 1992, Ht: 6’2, Wt: 182 lbs

Pegged as a future franchise center and perhaps linemate of Rick Nash, Ryan Johansen has got off to a mere decent start to the season. He had a solid NHL training camp, but it was almost inevitable he’d spend at least another season in junior. He does have 18 points in his first 16 games, but has been unable to explode offensively as the Blue Jackets had hoped: he’s been consi
stent, without any extended pointless streaks, but without a streak of multiple point games as one might expect from a playmaking fourth overall pick.

Still, averaging over a point per game is nothing to sneeze at, and Johansen has been a highly effective player. The only oddity is that he is being outscored by a pair of rookies in Ty Rattie and Sven Bartschi, but that speaks to the talent level of the Winterhawks more so than it does to Johansen. Nonetheless, Johansen is expected to and likely will, see his numbers climb as the season goes on, especially with the last season’s linemate Nino Niederreiter (NYI) back in the fold.

Austin Madaisky, D, Kamloops Blazers
Acquired: 5th round (124th overall), 2010
30 January 1992, Ht: 6’2, Wt: 199 lbs

Much like Archibald in the OHL, the Blue Jackets have another defenseman leading his team in scoring with Austin Madaisky. Continuing off from a strong playoff performance last season, Madaisky has registered 11 points in the first 19 games this season.

He is minus-4 on a team with a goal differential of minus-16, which, for a player receiving first line minutes, is rather impressive. He’ll be expected to continue to work on his all-around game as the season progresses.