Photo: Kerby Rychel is one of three forwards the Columbus Blue Jackets selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft. Rychel was selected 19th overall. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Despite recently graduating a large number of players to the NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to have a well-stocked system. Led by a trio of talented goaltenders and a slew of high-end defensive prospects, Columbus' future in its own zone looks bright. The Blue Jackets have tons of promise offensively too, with forwards Marko Dano, Alexander Wennberg, and Kerby Rychel among the newest members of the prospect pool.
Photo: The 2nd overall pick in 2012, Ryan Murray’s 2012-13 season in Everett was cut short by a shoulder injury (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The Columbus Blue Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention on the last day of the season when the Detroit Red Wings picked up their 24th victory to bring its point total to 56. Despite coming up a point short from its second trip to the playoffs, the new look Blue Jackets exceeded expectations after adding depth forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov from New York. A mid-season trade brought Marian Gaborik over from the Rangers and the star winger finished with 27 points after posting 19 with New York.
Photo: Columbus’ 37th overall pick in 2011, Boone Jenner set career-highs with 45 goals and 82 points for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals in 2012-13 (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The Columbus Blue Jackets have a ton of depth along its blue line with a prospect class led by players such as Ryan Murray, Mike Reilly, and Dalton Prout. Its defenders seem to be improving consistently and its undersized forwards keep getting quicker. Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner lead the playmaking forwards with quick routes to the net and crisp passing. Columbus’ prospects awards shed light on some of the key players who we could see dominating the NHL in a few short years.
Photo: Cam Atkinson, who has 10 points in 21 games with Columbus this season, ranks as the top forward prospect in the mid-season Top 20 ranking (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
The Columbus Blue Jackets still have strong defensive depth and a good amount of young wingers slowly reaching their potential. Unfortunately for Columbus not all of these wingers can be Cam Atkinson or Boone Jenner. Much like the deep defensive core, the Blue Jackets are riddled with gritty forwards that get in the dirty areas, but have trouble finding the back of the net. Although the Blue Jackets have a significant amount of household names, the back-end prospects in the talent pool are not improving nearly as much as they should.
Photo: Oshawa Generals captain and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Boone Jenner suffered through a delayed entry to the 2013 WJC after sitting out a three-game suspension (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
For Dougie Hamilton and Boone Jenner, playing for Team Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship represents an opportunity to avenge a disappointing showing at the 2012 edition of this tournament, one in which Canada settled for a bronze medal.