Jackets CHL Prospect Update

By Aaron Vickers

Jackets CHL Prospect Update: First Edition

Welcome to the first edition of the *new* Canadian Hockey League Update for players property of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Several players have departed from last season, including former Kelowna Rockets teammates goaltender Shane Bendera and defenseman Tyler Sloan. Also turning pro included St Michaels Majors defenseman Scott Heffernan and Kamloops Blazer Ben Knopp. The first three were previously assigned to the Blue Jackets ECHL affiliate, the Dayton Bombers. Ben Knopp hangs in limbo with an injury, but will start with Dayton. Pascal Leclaire, of Montreal Rocket fame, has earned himself a spot on the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.

Welcomed into the Blue Jackets system via the 2002 Entry Draft is a pair of Brandon Wheat Kings. Tim Konsorada was selected by the Jackets in the 6th round, 168th overall. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen was selected earlier in the draft, in the 3rd round, 65th overall. Steven Goertzen of the Seattle Thunderbirds was picked up with the 225th pick overall. Now…on with the update.

Western Hockey League

Kiel McLeod – Forward – Kelowna Rockets – Selected in the 2nd Round (53 Overall) in 2001
McLeod found himself back in Kelowna this season after failing to come to an agreement over a contract with general manager Doug MacLean. The rumour circulating was that McLeod was asking for a significant amount of money, more than that of fellow prospect Tim Jackman, who was actually selected ahead of McLeod in 2001. Nevertheless, the Rockets are glad to have the overager back. After putting up 48 points (17-31-48) in 41 games through an injury riddled season, McLeod is hoping to have a healthy season. Through 6 games so far with the Rockets in 2002-2003, Kiel has registered 5 points (2-3-5) and a plus/minus rating of +1. Here’s wishing Kiel a successful season in his final year of major junior.

Steven Goertzen – Forward – Seattle Thunderbirds – Selected in the 7th Round (225th Overall) in 2002
Goertzen, as previously stated, was the Jackets 7th round selection in the 2002 Entry Draft. He is entering his second season with the Thunderbirds, and his second season in major junior. In his 2001-2002 campaign, Goertzen registered 15 points(6-9-15) in 66 games. His -14 on the year was 5th worst on the team. This season Steven is hoping for an increased role with his increased experience, however his offensive output seems to be quite consistent with that of last season. Through 9 games this year, Goertzen has 2 goals 2 points (2-0-2) with a -3 rating. While the Jackets may not be looking for big things from Goertzen, steady improvement through his remaining years of junior eligibility would definately help his cause.

Tim Konsorada – Forward – Brandon Wheat Kings – Selected in the 6th Round (168th Overall) in 2002
Konsorada is entering into his 3rd full season in the WHL. He has shown constant improvement over the last two seasons, increasing his point totals from 23 (9-14-23) in 67 games in 2000-2001 to 45 points (17-28-45) in 71 games in 2001-2002. This season, the Jackets are hoping this offensive output increases even more. Konsorada got off to the 2002-2003 season on a tear. Tim’s efforts in the first week of WHL play earned him the WHL Player of the Week moniker. Through 10 games this season, Konsorada has registered 19 points (4-15-19). He leads his team in assists by 5, despite only being 10 games into the season. He is also tied for the league lead in Brandon with Nashville Predators prospect Jordin Tootoo. Konsorada’s start has really caught a lot of people off guard, and Jacket fans and Wheat King fans alike hope he can continue his early pace.

Ole-Kristian Tollefsen – Defense – Brandon Wheat Kings – Selected in the 3rd Round (65th Overall) in 2002
Tollefsen was drafted by the Jackets with their selection in the 3rd round. Tollefsen, who was playing in a mens league in Lillehammer, Norway. He was also a member of the Norweigen Junior Team, registering 4 points (1-3-4) in 5 games. He had registered 6 points (1-5-6) in 37 games with his club team in 2001-2002. He was promptly brought over to North America to play in the WHL to get accustomed to the North American game a little early. The 18 year old didn’t seem to have too many problems in coming over, and was described as a dominant blue-liner in his first few games. This may have been contributed to his opponents. Tollefsen was playing against men up to 10 years older than him, and is instead playing against players his own age. Tollefsen, however, has only played in 5 of the teams 10 games, after suffering a concussion. He has been cleared to play and is back in the lineup as I write this, which is good news, again for Wheat King and Jacket fans. In those 5 games, Tollefsen has registered 4 points (2-2-4) and 15 penalty minutes.

Ontario Hockey League

Andrew Penner – Goaltender – Guelph Storm – Signed As A Free Agent (Sept 17th, 2001)
After a solid training camp with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Andrew Penner finds himself yet again with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. Penner had a solid campagin with the Storm last season splitting duties with Dwight LaBrosse. He managed a record of 18-12-5 in 36 games with a 3.11 GAA and a .898 Save Percentage. This season, Penner has played in but 2 games, with a 0-1-0 record, 1.29 GAA and a .925 Save Percentage. Dwight LaBrosse has handled the majority of the duties, appearing in 5 games so far with Guelph.

Ryan Bowness – Forward – Brampton Battalion – Selected in the 8th Round (236th Overall) in 2001
Anyone who followed the Jackets CHL Prospect Updates from last season knows that I was down on Ryan Bowness from time to time. After a 17 point campaign last season on the strength of 7 goals in 66 games, Bowness hadn’t really showed much progress from his rookie year. An offseason later, Bowness has found his offensive touch in a big way. Through 9 games this season, Bowness already has 9 points, on the strength of 5 goals, just two shy of his career high! Bowness appears to have rounded out his game, and looks to develop into another threat for the Battalion this season.

Cole Jarrett – Defense – Plymouth Whalers – Selected in the 5th Round (141st Overall) in 2001
Cole Jarrett is not an unfamiliar name to those who have been following the Columbus Blue Jackets development systems. A year ago, Jarrett was one of few invited to the 2002 Canadian Junior Camp, at which he was one of few defensemen to get cut. This past summer, Jarrett was invited to the Canadian Junior Team summer camp, which ensures him a tryout again this December. Last season Jarrett’s offensive totals didn’t improve, but his all-round game did. He managed 38 points (14-24-38) in 51 games, and sat out a few late in the season due to suspension. This season, Jarrett has participated in 7 games, registering 3 points (0-3-3). His plus/minus, which is usually quite good, continues this trend, as Cole is +6 in those 7 games, which speaks volumes of his all-round play. Jarrett could very well find himself with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch should he continue on his path.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League

Aaron Johnson – Defense – Rimouski Oceanic – Selected in the 3rd Round (85th Overall) in 2001
Johnson, along with Jarrett, was also invited to the Canadian Junior Summer Camp, largely due to his strong play thoughout the 2001-2002 season, in which he set career highs in points (66), goals (17), assists (49) penalty minutes (172) and games played (68). So how does one improve on that? Simply put, stronger play. So far this season, Johnson has registered 3 points (1-2-3) in 5 games this season with 12 penalty minutes.

Special Update: The Progress of Rick Nash
After signing a 3 year deal at the rookie maximum, plus upwards of $12 Million in bonuses over the course of the contract, Rick Nash finally made his Columbus Blue Jackets debut earlier this week when the Blue Jackets took on the Chicago Black Hawks on opening night. On his 2nd shot of the game, Rick Nash registered his first National Hockey League goal. A puck surely to be saved and placed on the Nash household mantle for years to come. The game against Chicago wasn’t all celebration however, when Nash crashed into the end boards. After several moments on the ice, Nash was helped off by teammates. In a precautionary move, after Nash returned to the bench, he did not see anymore icetime. Not to fret, because Nash should be in the lineup against New Jersey on Saturday, October 12th.

Questions??? Comments??? Feedback??? Please feel more than welcome to visit the Columbus Blue Jackets Message Board.