Photo: Cam Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who has seen regular time in the lineup for Columbus during the 2013 NHL season (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Welcome to the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
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: Fifth round pick Matt Calvert suited up for his 65th career NHL game on Monday, which graduates the winger from prospect status at Hockey's Future. (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
The Columbus Blue Jackets entered the 2008 NHL Entry Draft as a team in rebuilding mode. The 2007-08 season was the first full year for Mike Priest as President and Scott Howson as General Manager of the club, and because he became GM just prior to the 2007 Draft, the 2008 class was one of Howson's first chances to make a mark on the future of the franchise.
Photo: Second-year pro Jonathan Audy-Marchessault skated in his first career NHL game Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. (courtesy of Jason Mowry/Icon SMI)
Injuries forced the Columbus Blue Jackets
to place both Cam Atkinson
(lower body) and Matt Calvert
(upper body) on injured reserve. With two spots open, Columbus looked no further than Springfield to fill its depth chart and on Wednesday night recalled Tim Erixon
and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault
from the AHL
Photo: Winger Cam Atkinson had a stellar month of December, managing 18 points in 12 games. Atkinson is one of several Blue Jackets prospects who will get a chance to play in the NHL when the season resumes. (Bob Frid/Icon SMI)
Cam Atkinson could not have got hot at a better time. He managed eight goals, 10 assists with the Springfield Falcons, and finished with a plus-nine rating in 12 December games, making him the Hockey's Future Prospect of the Month.