Struggling forwards highlight CHL pool for Columbus Blue Jackets

By Chris Roberts
Photo: Second round pick Boone Jenner is currently the top prospect for the Blue Jackets who is playing in the CHL. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

 

Under General Manager Scott Howson, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been keen to draft players going the NCAA route. Consequentially, the team has just seven prospects currently playing in the CHL.

QMJHL

Michael Chaput, C, Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: Trade with Philadelphia, February 28th, 2011

An off-season trade to Shawinigan has helped boost Chaput’s offense this season. Though he was productive offensively with Lewiston last season, scoring just under a point-per-game, the Montreal native currently has 25 points in just 19 games. His 19 assists lead the team, and he has showed great chemistry with Russian Anton Zlobin, setting up the majority of his 21 goals.

Thanks to his offensive contributions, Shawinigan has been one of the best teams in the QMJHL this season, but it’s Chaput’s defensive efforts that are highly regarded by the Blue Jackets. He led Lewiston forwards in plus/minus last season and is currently the team leader for Shawinigan. Above average on face-offs, he has the makeup of a solid third line center, but will need to add more strength.

Petr Straka, RW, Rimouski Oceanic
Acquired: 2nd round (55th overall) in 2010

Expectations aren’t too high at this point in the season for Straka as he is coming off a disappointing season that was stunted by injuries. Despite that, in 21 games this year, the Czech has six goals and eight assists. While the production still isn’t near the point-per-game pace he set in his rookie season in 2009-10, he has at least, been consistent this year, while proving to be a reliable offensive option.

While he isn’t particularly a soft player, he doesn’t bring enough of an edge to his game to be considered a third or fourth line forward in the NHL. If he is to make a career out of hockey it will be as an offensive forward, and though expectations are realistic right now, he’ll need to get back to the point-per-game pace of his rookie season to be considered a valuable asset to the organization.

Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault, G, Saint John Sea Dogs
Acquired: 4th round (106th overall) in 2010

Corbeil-Theriault has picked up right where he left off with the high-powered Sea Dogs last season, posting a 16-3-0 record with four shutouts. He also sports a gaudy 2.12 goals against average and an impressive .919 save percentage. After struggling for parts of three seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads, posting a combined near 4.00, he has flourished with Saint John following a mid-season trade last year.

It is hard to judge Corbeil-Theriault at this point, despite consistent goaltending with Saint John. He looked lost at times between the pipes for Halifax, but that can be partially attributed to the fact that the Mooseheads were in a rebuilding phase, and had the league’s worst defense. And as good as he has played since being acquired by Saint John, many will attribute it to the team in front of him. If he isn’t as good as his numbers in Saint John suggest, he has at least improved since being drafted. He is using his size to his advantage more and seems to move more fluidly.

OHL

Dalton Smith, LW, Ottawa 67’s
Acquired: 2nd round, 34th overall, 2010

Though still early in his career, Dalton Smith’s progression, or lack thereof, has been very concerning to the Blue Jackets brass. His career year came in his draft year of 2009-10 in which he scored 44 points in 62 games while adding 129 penalty minutes. He looked to be blossoming into a rugged power-forward type who could score, but since then, he has looked like a shell of his draft-year self. He registered just 29 points last season and in 14 games so far this year he has just five points.

Ottawa has been one of the top teams in the OHL the past two seasons, so a lack of linemates hasn’t been Smith’s problem. He continues to pile on the penalty minutes however, and is one of the top agitators in the league. The problem is that he can be a bit too aggressive at times – he has already earned a 10 game suspension this year for a hit to Belleville goaltender Malcolm Subban. The selection of Smith was somewhat questionable at the time, and it’s looking worse with every passing week.

Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 2nd round (37th overall) in 2011

The Blue Jackets haven’t had much luck with second round picks in recent memory, but Boone Jenner looks to change that trend. The Dorchester, Ontario native is regarded as one of the hardest workers on and off the ice in the OHL, and has steadily been developing his offensive game. He recorded just over a point-per-game last season and has 27 points in 22 games to lead the Generals in scoring this year.

The team’s captain, he’s also a great leader, and is used in all situations on the ice. He kills penalties, blocks shots, and is often seen taking crucial face-offs. His skating is perhaps his biggest weakness, but it’s something that has been improving, and regardless, it shouldn’t hold him back from making the NHL, particularly with his determined work ethic. While he has second line potential, he looks more like a prototypical third liner.

Brandon Archibald, D, Saginaw Spirit
Acquired: 4th round (94th overall) in 2010

Archibald has great size and at times can play a very physical game. Since being acquired by Saginaw midway through last season, he has seen less ice time than he had with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and as a result, his offense has seemingly disappeared. In 37 games with the Greyhounds in 2010-11, he had 19 points, and since being dealt, he has recorded just six points in 53 games. His drop in production is not worrisome, as he is not particularly considered to be an offensive defenseman.

On the defensive end, he has shown improvement this year. He was a combined minus-17 last year and through 24 games this year he is plus-one. This will likely be his last year in junior, and with the glut of defense prospects in the Blue Jackets organization, he’ll need to stand out in the second half of the season to earn a contract.

WHL

Austin Madaisky, D, Kamloops Blazers
Acquired: 5th round (124th overall) in 2010

Madaisky has been one of Kamloops top defenseman all season long and currently leads the team’s d-men in scoring with 15 points in 21 games. He has been utilized on the first unit of the team’s power-play – all three of his goals have come with the man advantage – but has also been effective offensively five on five.

While his defensive play hasn’t quite been worrisome, his even rating is second worst of the team’s defensemen. If he continues his offensive production, he’ll have no problem earning an NHL contract after this season.