Blue Jackets prospect watch

By Aaron Vickers




Prospect Watch (Nov 18 03)

Here is a glimpse at the notable happenings for prospects in the
Columbus Blue Jackets organization. Russian sniper Sergei Mozyakin has had more highs than lows, whereas for his countryman Nikolai Zherdev, the lows have
never been more prevalent.


Zherdev’s Struggles Continue
With CSKA Moscow

As the top prospect in the Columbus Blue Jacket organization, there is
pressure on Nikolai Zherdev
to perform everywhere. It is no secret that the
fourth overall selection in the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft
has had nothing but difficult times under head coach Viktor Tikhonov,
with whom he’s been feuding with. Tikhonov, unimpressed with the
efforts of the Columbus Blue Jackets to bring Nikolai over to North
America for the 2003-04 season, coupled with Zherdev himself struggling
offensively, has left the Kiev, Ukraine native on the fourth line,
seeing few minutes.

In fact, Zherdev has only managed four points (2-2-4) through 19 games
this season, after recording 23 points (12-11-23) in 44 games last
season.

Things may not look so grim for the youngster, however. Zherdev just
finished play with Russia’s U20 club, and participated in the Four Nations
Tournament. A shaky Zherdev managed to register three goals in as many
games, to lead the Russian squad in goals, and a share of the team lead
in points.

Bendera’s Attitude Continues To Cause
A Commotion

Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending prospect Shane Bendera is once again in
hot water with management, which is a familiar place for the St Albert,
Alberta native. Bendera, who was sent home near the closing of the
2002-03 season by the ECHL Dayton Bombers, continues to
struggle with attitude issues, which have him once again watching from
the sidelines.

Bendera, who was loaned to the United Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch
affiliate the Elmira Jackals, has been suspended indefinitely by
Jackals head coach Todd Brost. Broast beforehand hunted for the
advice of Columbus Blue Jackets assistant Jim Clark, who advised
Brost to treat Bendera like any other member of his club, which
prompted the suspension.

The suspension came two days after Bendera’s only action of the 2003-04
season, which saw him surrender four goals on twenty shots over the
course of two periods. Subsequently, Bendera was a no-show for Elmira’s
next practice. Bendera, who can re-join the team at any time under his
own recognizance, remains separated from the club.

Mozyakin Continues Dominance

Although selected extremely late in the 2002 National Hockey
League Entry Draft (263rd overall), Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Sergei Mozyakin is making huge waves in
the Russian Super League. Mozyakin, who is listed generously at 5’10” tall, has been paying huge dividends. Through 24 games
this season, Mozyakin ranks second among scorers in the Russian Super
League with 22 points (14-8-22) in 24 games, an excellent pace for the
low scoring league.

It should also be noted that Mozyakin leads the Russian Super League in
goals, with 14. This mark places him three goals ahead of former National
Hockey Leaguer Sergei Krivokrasov,
who has tallied 11 times.

Lindstrom Done For The Season

Unfortunately for Columbus Blue Jackets prospect and current
MoDo forward Joakim Lindstrom,
his season has come to a crashing halt before it was even given the
opportunity to get off the ground and flourish. Lindstrom, who was made
Columbus’ second round draft selection in the 2002 National Hockey League
Entry Draft, separated his right shoulder for the second time. It was
decided that it would be in the best interest for Joakim to undergo
surgery. By opting for surgery, MoDo has no expectations of having
Lindstrom back in their lineup this season.

Shoulder injuries are nothing new for Lindstrom, who had previously
separated his right shoulder. In addition to that, Lindstrom had
surgery last season on his left shoulder. Listed as out indefinitely
with a timeline of four to five months, Lindstrom falls further behind in his
development.

It was General Manager Doug MacLean who was quite impressed with what
he saw in Joakim Lindstrom at the Columbus Blue Jackets Developmental
Camp, so much so that Joakim had MacLean wishing that Lindstrom was
under contract for the 2003-04 National Hockey League season. Whether
MacLean’s intentions would have lead Lindstrom to the Columbus Blue
Jackets or their American Hockey League equivalent is unclear, however
Lindstrom certainly impressed, and was further along in his development
then the Columbus brass had expected.