As the Canadian Hockey League season begins to kick into full swing,
many players are finding their skills as they try to help their team
get off to the ever important start to the 2003-04 season. The Columbus
organization has a crop of youngsters under watch in the Canadian
Hockey League, with no player drafted before more than 16 months ago,
including five from the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft.
The Western Hockey League
The Columbus Blue Jackets have several players spending the 2003-04
season in the Western Hockey League. Brandon Wheat King teammates Tim
Konsorada and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen were selected in the 2002 National
Hockey League Entry Draft, as well as Steven Goertzen of the Seattle
Thunderbirds, also selected in 2002.
– Right Wing – Seattle Thunderbirds –
Selected in the 7th Round (225th Overall) in 2002
Seattle Thunderbirds forward Steven Goertzen is simply going about his
business this season in the Western Hockey League. Goertzen, who sits
ninth in team scoring with three points, has been unable to contribute
offensively to his club. His defensive play, however, has been
improving, despite playing on the team who boasts the worst record in
the Western Hockey League, two points behind the expansion Everett
Silvertips, for last spot in the U.S. Division. The season is still
young for Goertzen, who will be watched closely by the Columbus
– Right Wing – Brandon Wheat Kings – Selected in the 6th Round (168th
Overall) in 2002
Wheat Kings captain Tim Konsorada can but watch his Brandon
squad go 6-5-0-1 to kick off the start of the 2003-04 Western Hockey
League campaign. With Konsorada out, the bulk of the Wheat Kings
scoring will have to come from 2003 first rounder and Washington Capitals
prospect Eric Fehr. The Wheat
Kings, without their top three scorers from the 2002-03 season
(Konsorada, Jordin Tootoo and Ryan
Craig) need a speedy recovery from their captain, who is out
Tollefsen – Defense – Brandon Wheat Kings – Selected in the 3rd
Round (65th Overall) in 2002
Offensively, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen has contributed with much more
consistency after starting off his 2003-04 Western Hockey League
campaign with a slow start. Tollefsen, who started the season hitting
everything that moved, hasn’t swayed too far from his theory, although
it has put him out of position on several occasions. As Tollefsen
continues to mature throughout the season, Brandon fans should expect
the rugged defenseman to bring his game to an entirely different level,
and has already stepped up his game considerably from last season.
|Brandon Wheat Kings||WHL||12||0||4||4||17||-2|
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a pair of prospects currently playing in
the Ontario Hockey League. Defensemen Marc Methot of the London Knights
and Trevor Hendrikx of the Peterborough Petes are 2003 National Hockey
League Entry Draft Selections, while Columbus’ second round selection
Dan Fritsche, who may be returned to the Sarnia Sting, continues to
skate with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
– Center – Sarnia Sting – Selected in the 2nd Round (46th Overall) in
Danny Fritsche is getting comfortable with the Columbus Blue
Jackets. This is excellent news for the Blue Jackets organization.
However, the Sarnia Sting may be less than thrilled about the ever
growing possibility that they’ve seen the last of Danny Fritsche in a
Sting uniform. In light of the recent injuries to Columbus forwards Andrew Cassels, Espen Knutsen, Trevor Letowski and Tyler Wright, Fritsche will see a
dramatic increase in playing time, and is even slated to play on the
top line against the Nashville Predators on October 18th, centering top
scorer Geoff Sanderson and the
underrated David Vyborny.
– Defense – Peterborough Petes – Selected in the 9th Round (283th
Overall) in 2003
Trevor Hendrikx is doing what is asked of him in Peterborough.
Keep the front of the net clear, and keep opponents honest in the
defensive zone. The Petes sit last in the East Division, however they
have played nearly half the games of the second place Oshawa Generals.
Sitting at one game under .500, the club will have to be stingy on
defense, due to their lack of scoring ability.
– Defense – London Knights – Selected in the 6th Round (168th Overall)
Marc Methot, much like Trevor Hendrikx, is relied heavily upon to
instill, and keep, order in the defensive zone. The London Knights as a
whole have been very successful of this, allowing just 2.3 goals per
game. Methot, who plays a very calm and steady stay-at-home game,
isn’t expected to offer up any more than a consistent game from the
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League
The Columbus Blue Jackets have two players currently playing in
the Quebec Major Junior League. Mathieu Gravel, selected in the eighth
round of the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft, as well as
Philippe Dupuis of the Gatineau Olympiques, selected four rounds
earlier in the same draft.
Mathieu Gravel – Left Wing – Shawinigan Cataractes – Selected in
the 8th Round (233rd Overall) in 2003
Shawinigan Cataractes winger Mathieu Gravel will not be counted on to
show flashes of brilliance over the course of the 2003-04 season, but
he will be asked to continue on as a key contributor night in and night
out for Shawinigan. The 6’3″ Gravel, who finished fourth in club scoring
a season ago, has increased the importance of his role with the club,
by contributing regularly at both ends of the ice.
– Center – Gatineau Olympiques – Selected in the 4th Round (104th
Overall) in 2003
There is no disguising the role that Philippe Dupuis plays as a center
for the Gatineau Olympiques. Dupuis will not be confused for a natural
goal scorer while on the ice, simply because he will be setting up his
sniper teammates. Through 14 games, Dupuis has registered just two
goals, but has added an impressive 11 assists, good enough for 11th in
the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Finding teammates to feed the
puck to shouldn’t be a problem for Dupuis, with four of his teammates
already in double digits for goals (Jean-Michel
Daoust (12), Renaud Des Alliers (12), Petr Pohl (10) and Olivier Labelle (10)). The only
problem with so many scorers on one team for Dupuis, is that it could
quite possibly lead to a lack of icetime in Gatineau.
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