Blue Jackets Top 20 prospects, Fall 2009

By Chris Roberts

The Columbus Blue Jackets addressed a few needs in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, including bulking up on defense.

With Derick Brassard and Nikita Filatov yet to graduate, and the addition of John Moore to their prospect pool, the Blue Jackets have one of the most impressive groups of prospects.

Top 20 at a glance

1. Nikita Filatov, LW –  8.5B
2. Derick Brassard, C – 8.0B
3. John Moore, D – 7.5C
4. Cody Goloubef, D – 7.5C
5. Maxim Mayorov, LW –  7.5C
6. Kevin Lynch, C –  7.0C
7. Will Weber, D – 7.0D
8. Dan LaCosta, G –  7.0C
9. Matt Calvert, LW –  7.5D
10. Brent Regner, D –  7.0C
11. Derek Dorsett, RW –  5.0A
12. Kevin Lalande, G –  7.0D
13. Teddy Ruth, D –  6.5C
14. Jonathan Sigalet, D – 6.5C
15. Jake Hansen, RW –  6.5C
16. Tom Sestito, LW – 6.5C
17. David Savard, D – 7.0D
18. Alex Picard, LW – 6.5D
19. Michael Blunden, RW –  5.5C
20. Stefan Legein, RW –  6D

1. (1) Nikita Filatov, LW
Grade 8.5B Projection: Potential star winger
Age: 19 Height/weight: 6’0, 172
Drafted 6th overall, 2008

Filatov seemed to make the transition fairly easily to North American style hockey. In just eight games with the Blue Jackets last season, he tallied four goals, including a hat trick. He totaled 32 points in 39 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, and was a star at the World Junior Championships.

Filatov is a speedy Russian with natural goal-scoring ability reminiscent of Pavel Bure. With few flaws in his game, Filatov, like most prospects, needs to bulk up before making a consistent impact at the NHL level. Even without added size, Filatov is very dangerous and crafty with the puck, and can make defenders look foolish in one-on-one situations.

In all likelihood, he will spend the full 2009-10 season with Columbus and graduate from the Blue Jackets’ prospect pool. He could even challenge for the Calder Trophy and keep it in Columbus another year.

2. (2) Derick Brassard, C

Grade 8.0B  Projection: First line center
Age: 21 Height/weight: 6’1, 180
Drafted 6th overall, 2006

At the 30-game mark this past NHL season, Brassard was far and away the leading candidate for the rookie of the year. He posted 25 points in 31 games, but was shut down due to a shoulder injury. He was one of the most productive Blue Jackets in that time span, at times centering the top line. Although he has had significant injuries in the last three seasons, he will enter training camp in full health and ready to continue his torrid pace from last season.

Brassard’s offensive flair matches that of No. 1 prospect Filatov. With great vision and creativity, he will go into this season as one of the Jackets’ top two centers, but will need to stay healthy to reach his potential.

3. (NR) John Moore, D

Grade 7.5C Projection: Top-three defenseman
Age: 18 Height/weight: 6’2, 189
Drafted 21st overall, 2009

Moore could be the steal of the first round in the 2009 Entry Draft. After trading down in the draft, Columbus general manager Scott Howson traded back up to the 21st spot to select the smooth-skating defenseman. He posted 39 points in 57 games last year for the USHL Chicago Steel.

Moore has the ability to quarterback a power play and has great offensive instincts. He knows when to jump into the rush, but also plays a sound defensive game. He doesn’t often create trouble for himself.

It was thought that Moore would take the NCAA route to continue his career, but he has changed plans and will play for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL next season.

4. (3) Cody Goloubef, D

Grade 7.5C  Projection: Top-three defenseman
Age: 19 Height/weight: 6’0, 195
Drafted 37th overall, 2008

Goloubef plays a solid, unspectacular game, but is highly regarded. Goloubef has shown the ability to chip in offensively, but doesn’t have the power play potential that Moore displays. Instead, Goloubef has ample potential to become a top defender on the penalty kill.

He will enter his third season with the University of Wisconsin next season, after posting five goals and eight assists in 36 games last season.

5. (4) Maxim Mayorov, LW
Grade 7.5C  Projection: Scoring line winger
Age: 19 Height/weight: 6’2, 187
Drafted 94th overall, 2007

Mayorov had a very successful first season in the AHL for his age. The Russian-born teenager had no trouble making the transition to the North American game, scoring 17 times in 71 games with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. He also had a three-game stint with the Blue Jackets, and while he was held pointless, did not look completely out of place. He should be in the mix in September for a roster spot with the big club, but is likely destined for Syracuse. Mayorov’s speed, size, and skill all point to him becoming an everyday contributor with the Blue Jackets at some point.

6. (NR) Kevin Lynch, C
Grade 7.0C  Projection: Second or third line center
Age: 18 Height/weight: 6’1, 190
Drafted 56th overall, 2009

Lynch has the potential to be a great shutdown center in the NHL. He is a great penalty killer with a hard-working, never-say-die attitude – his coaches at the Under-18 Championships named him one of the three best players for Team USA.

His offensive game is underrated. Lynch totaled 37 points in 54 games last season for the US National Team Development Program, but was a clutch scorer. Lynch will attend the University of Michigan.

7. (7) Will Weber, D

Grade 7.0D  Projection: Second/third pairing defenseman
Age: 20 Height/weight: 6’4, 205
Drafted 53rd overall, 2007

Taken just seven spots behind Ruth in the 2007 draft, Weber shares some similarities. His stats are quite similar to Ruth’s freshman year, as Weber posted three goals and two assists for Miami University.

His freshman year wasn’t a huge success nor was it a major failure. Weber, much like Ruth, was fairly average, but he does carry a lot of potential. He is a big body with great mobility, which is the best combination. Weber will spend a few more seasons with Miami where he will need to fine tune his game.

8. (11) Dan LaCosta, G
Grade 7.0C  Projection: Potential starting goaltender
Age: 23 Height/weight: 6’1, 186
Drafted 93rd overall, 2004

LaCosta comes in as the Blue Jackets’ highest ranked prospect over 20 years of age. His strong play last season in holding down the fort for the Crunch established himself as a solid AHL starting netminder. Prior to this season, LaCosta had spent a total of 24 games in the ECHL in his career, unable to hold even a backup job with Syracuse. This past season, however, LaCosta played 45 games with Syracuse, and even started three games for Columbus, including a shutout.

The Labrador native played well enough last season to be considered for the backup role in Columbus, however with 20-year-old Steve Mason as the club’s starting goalie, the Blue Jackets’ need for a veteran goalie forced them to sign Mathieu Garon. LaCosta is all but assured to be starting the season in the AHL, however, will get the first call-up.

9. (13) Matt Calvert, LW

Grade 7.5D  Projection: Scoring line winger
Age: 19 Height/weight: 5’9, 164
Drafted 127th overall, 2008

Calvert was on arguably the best line in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Teamed with 2009 first-round picks Brayden Schenn and Scott Glennie, Calvert put up 67 points in just 58 games. Calvert’s offensive ability is unquestionable as he even scored 64 points as a rookie with Brandon. The only question is whether or not he can contribute on his own without the help of two first-round draft picks on his line.

It isn’t as if he doesn’t possess the skill though, as Calvert has great speed along with the ability to dish the puck effectively. He is also known as a good teammate and leader, and was even invited to Team Canada’s Under-20 evaluation camp last December but could not participate due to injury. Another stand-out season for Brandon could see Calvert earn a contract with the Blue Jackets.

10. (18) Brent Regner, D
Grade 7.0C  Projection: Offensive defenseman
Age: 20 Height/weight: 5’10, 170
Drafted 137th overall, 2008

Regner made vast improvement this past season and perhaps made the biggest jump of all Blue Jackets’ prospects. He was paired with Nashville first rounder Jonathan Blum for much of the season and the duo were much of the reason for the Vancouver Giants’ success. Regner totaled 67 points in 70 games in the regular season, good enough for third on the team in scoring.

He is undersized, but moves the puck very well and definitely has the ability and potential to quarterback a power play. In regards to his overall game, Regner is much like a poor man’s John Moore, which is a great thing to say about a fifth-round draft pick.

11. (14) Derek Dorsett, RW
Grade 5.0A  Projection: Agitator
Age: 22 Height/weight: 5’10, 170
Drafted 189th overall, 2006

Dorsett is a quintessential late-round energy player. He was selected in the seventh round in 2006 and has quickly worked his way towards a full-time job with the Blue Jackets. The Saskatchewan native showed toughness and determination in 52 games with the Blue Jackets. He picked up 150 penalty minutes and was second in fighting majors behind sophomore Jared Boll. It is rare for a late-round pick like Dorsett to make his way to the big club so quickly but he has shown the ability to add much-needed energy to the Blue Jackets’ fourth line, and comes at a cheaper price than a veteran forward. He will likely earn more time with the Jackets next season.

12. (12) Kevin Lalande, G
Grade 7.0D  Projection: Good backup goaltender
Age: 22 Height/weight: 5’11, 175
Drafted 128th overall, 2005

Through 2007 and 2008, Lalande was a very solid ECHL netminder for the Calgary Flames affiliate, winning the Kelly Cup in 2008. This past season however, he was dealt to the Blue Jackets at the trade deadline for a draft pick. It has certainly worked out for Columbus. The AHL rookie played 15 games down the stretch for the Crunch, splitting time with LaCosta, and posted a 2.26 goals against and .927 save percentage. Lalande will likely share time between the pipes with LaCosta again next season as they battle for the right to earn a call-up.

13. (5) Teddy Ruth, D
Grade 6.5C  Projection: Third pairing defenseman
Age: 20 Height/weight: 6’1, 210
Drafted 46th overall, 2007

Ruth is a physical, stay-at-home defenseman with good mobility. He was acquired from the Capitals in exchange for Sergei Fedorov after the 2007 draft.

Ruth, while having another fairly solid campaign with the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, hasn’t done anything to stand out. He won’t dazzle while on the ice, but he is responsible in his own end.

He will play at least one more season with the Fighting Irish.

14. (6) Jonathan Sigalet, D

Grade 6.5C  Projection: Fifth/sixth defenseman
Age: 23 Height/weight: 6’1, 198
Drafted 100th overall, 2005

Sigalet, while still having NHL potential, falls quite a bit down the list. Sigalet played just 19 games last season, and the now 23-year-old has yet to get a call to Columbus. He is behind many defense prospects coming up but Sigalet is currently the top defense prospect under contract as he was recently re-signed to a two-year, two-way deal. If Sigalet can stay healthy next season and continue to showcase his offensive instincts in Syracuse, he should see some time with the Blue Jackets, especially if injuries occur.

15. (9) Jake Hansen, RW
Grade 6.5C Projection: Third line forward
Age: 19 Height/weight: 6’0, 168
Drafted 68th overall, 2007

Hansen had a rough start to his NCAA career. His 58 points in 60 games in the USHL didn’t exactly carry over to the collegiate game as the freshman posted a mere seven points in 33 games. The right winger still has an ample amount of potential, however, and it is not uncommon for freshmen to struggle learning the NCAA game. With a year under his belt, and increased ice time, Hansen will assuredly get a chance to show his offensive style.

16. (8) Tom Sestito, LW
Grade 6.5C  Projection: Third line forward
Age: 21 Height/weight: 6’4, 201
Drafted 85th overall, 2007

Sestito continued to be the big-body presence for the Crunch this past season, while also contributing offensively. Though he missed 30 games, Sestito put up eight goals and 12 assists. His numbers will need to mprove again next season if he wants to earn a full-time NHL job, but there is no question that Sestito can be an effective checking winger, though he has potential to be a power forward too. If he can return to Syracuse fully healed next season and start the season well, he may battle with Dorsett for an extra forward spot with the Blue Jackets.

17. (NR) David Savard, D
Grade 7.0D Projection: Offensive defenseman
Age: 18 Height/weight: 6’1, 200
Drafted 94th overall, 2009

Savard had a good regular season for the Moncton Wildcats, but his impressive play in 10 games during the post-season surely helped him on draft weekend as he was chosen by the Blue Jackets in the fourth round. Savard will return to Moncton next season as their top offensive defenseman, quarterbacking the power play. It isn’t as though Savard is one dimensional either as he was a +29 last season, albeit on a very good defensive team.

18. (20) Alex Picard, LW
Grade 6.5D  Projection: Third/fourth line winger
Age: 23 Height/weight: 6’1, 190
Drafted 8th overall, 2004

Picard is an interesting case. The 2004 first-round pick has been hovering on the verge of becoming a bust for the past few seasons but Picard continues to provide that little bit of hope with his solid all-around play. He is definitely able in the defensive zone, plays a solid physical game and is a very intelligent player. This past season, however, he finally began to display his offensive intuition that made him a top 10 pick in 2004.

Though only playing 49 games, Picard had a career year for Syracuse posting 32 points, including a career-high 22 goals. If Picard can stay healthy and keep up his goal scoring, there is no reason to believe he won’t get another shot with Columbus in the near future, albeit his final shot.

19. (NR) Michael Blunden, RW

Grade 5.5C  Projection: Third/fourth liner
Age: 22 Height/weight: 6’4, 210
Drafted 43rd overall, 2005

Blunden has been plagued by injuries through his career but completed a full 2008-09 season between Rockford and Syracuse. He was traded on Jan. 10 from the Blackhawks to the Blue Jackets. He spent 39 games with Syracuse of the AHL and registered 21 points. While he hasn’t quite shown the hands to be a true scorer, he may have a chance to earn a full-time job in the show if he can be consistently healthy and work on his play in his own zone. He is in the class of Picard, Sestito, and Stefan Legein as Syracuse players who stand a chance to make the jump in the next year or two in a fourth-line capacity. 

20. (17) Stefan Legein, RW

Grade 6D  Projection: Checking liner
Age: 20 Height/weight: 5’10, 178
Drafted 37th overall, 2007

After calling it quits at such an early age, Legein is back to pursuing the dream of becoming an NHL regular. Legein played 26 games last season with the Crunch and only scored one goal, but next season will truly be telling in the progression of his career. With a full training camp and preparation for the season, the 20-year-old Oakville native will look to earn top minutes with the Crunch and increase his offensive output. He has speed to burn and can play the agitator role quite effectively.