Blue Jackets AHL Player Update

By Aaron Vickers

Mathieu Darche(LW) – Unable to crack the Blue Jackets opening day roster, Mathieu Darche was quickly relocated to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. Darche, who was called up for a 9 game stint last year, has not gone unnoticed by the Blue Jackets organization. After compiling 8 points in 9 games (6-2-8) for the Crunch, Darche received a call-up to the big club. In limited action with the Jackets, Darche has been held pointless in three games, with 4 PIM and a –3 rating.

Brad Moran(C) – One of Darche’s teammates on the Syracuse Crunch, Moran has not enjoyed the early season success he’d like to. After scoring 120 points only two seasons ago, Moran has had a tough time adapting to the professional level, recording just 34 points in 80 career AHL games, and only 4 points (2-2-4) in 9 games this season. After recording 3 consecutive 100+ point seasons in junior, the Jackets cannot be happy with the production of the former WHL Player Of The Year and Bob Clarke Trophy winner.

Martin Spanhel(RW) – Spanhel has split duty this season between the AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch and the NHL Jackets. Spanhel, who didn’t make the final cut in the preseason, managed 3 points (1-2-3) in 8 games before receiving his call-up with Darche. Unlike Darche, Spanhel has managed to tickle the twine, with one goal (1-0-1) in four games, while going –2.

Blake Bellefeuille(C) – After leaving Boston College in 99-00, Bellefeuille found himself in the AHL. This year is no different. Bellefeuille, who has 6 points (1-5-6) in 12 games, has found himself 6th in team scoring. He has mainly been utilized in defensive situations, and has seemed to excel at that thus far.

Greg Gardner(G) – Gardner, making the jump from the ECHL to AHL this season, has looked like a completely different goalie. Comparing last seasons ECHL statistics to his AHL statistics this year is an unfair comparison, but Gardner has not hit his stride early in the season. While he is 1-1-1 this season, he’s posting a disgusting 4.45 GAA, and an even worse .868 SP. Gardner doesn’t have a hope over the next 10 years at making the Jackets roster, with Marc Denis already with the club, and Shane Bendera and Pascal Leclaire finishing up their junior careers.

Jonathan Schill(LW) – Schill, who once looked like a promising scorer out of Kingston in the OHL, has not done anything in the past two seasons which could be considered backing it up. In 8 games with the Syracuse Crunch, Schill has just one point, an assist (0-1-1). The upside on Schill is that he’s still only 22 years of age. He’s going to have to impress more than his mother if he wants McLean to notice him.

Dan Watson(D) – Watson seems to be the typical 6th defenseman for the Crunch. While he’s not seeing a lot of ice time, he’s been steady on the blueline. The Crunch are definitely not looking for an offensive contribution from Watson, which would be ridiculous. In fact, the only way Watson gets on the scoresheet is before the game when the coach decides to play him and pencils his name in. Watson has not managed a statistic in any column other than games played, with 9. No penalty minutes, no points.

Derrick Walser(D) – Walser, a defenseman, has excellent vision on the ice matched only by his passing ability. His passing is as proven as anyone on the AHL Crunch. He has tallied for 9 points, 8 of those assists (1-8-9). His play is quite disciplined as well, which is a much more difficult style for a defenseman to play, averaging under a penalty per game. Walser has definitely been a welcomed addition from the St John’s Flames.

Brett Harkins(C) – Harkins, who at first glance appears to be a career minor-leaguer, has always put up exceptional numbers in the minors, either in the now-defunct IHL or AHL. This season, Harkins had recorded 3 goals and 7 points (3-4-7) in 7 games before the 30 year old received a call-up from the Jackets. In 3 games, he managed an assist (0-1-1) and was +1, behind only Kevin Dineen(+2) and Deron Quint(+3).

David Ling(RW) – Ling is trying to establish his game as a power forward in the AHL, with 3 goals and 6 points (3-3-6) in 12 games with the Crunch. However, it is Ling’s 48 penalty minutes which stands out the most. His rugged play has granted him several looks from the Jackets, and should expect a call-up soon should the Jackets require some grit and toughness upfront.

JF Labbe(G) – Labbe has the starter’s job in Syracuse, but has barely looked more sharp than his trusty backup Gardner. Labbe, no stranger to being #1, has posted a 3-4-2 record so far this season with one shutout. His 3.08 GAA is respectable, but could be improved upon. This also could be said for his .888 SP. Perhaps it would’ve been best for Syracuse to lose either Labbe or Gardner and have kept Marc Lamothe, who now plays for the Hamilton Bulldogs. Lamothe has posted a 4-2-1 record with a 1.70 GAA and a .938 SP.