Blue Jackets questions

By Aaron Vickers

Zeke26 asks:
Where will Janne Jokila and Per Mars play next season? Is there any chance that these two guys could make it to the AHL in the near future?

Janne Jokila will turn pro next season. Which league he ends up in definitely depends on his play in both the rookie camp, and if he’s so lucky, the main camp. Having turned 21 in April, Janne is no longer eligible to return to his River City Lancers. Jokila needs to work out his game, such as learning when to shoot or use his strong passing ability, and learning not to take unnecessary penalties. My best guess for Jokila would be the Dayton Bombers in the East Coast Hockey League.

Per Mars, on the other hand, will be able to play another season in the United States Hockey League. The rulebook states that “to compete, players must be 20 years-old or under before the season begins.” Per Mars turns 21 on October 23rd, meaning in all likelihood he will remain with the defending champion Lincoln Stars.

Whether or not either will be in the AHL really depends on what the two can do in terms of production and development in the next year. I fully expect Janne Jokila to at least see some action in the American Hockey League next year, but should spend the majority of his time in the East Coast Hockey League. I would not expect Per Mars to crack an AHL roster for a couple of seasons.

KansasJayhawk asks:
Who will we pick?

This has been a great debate for quite some time among Jacket fans. Everyone from MA Fleury to Tomas Vanek to Braydon Coburn has been mentioned. I personally think that, as long as MA Fleury does not go before the Jackets, Columbus will select Milan Michalek. Arguably the best two-way player in the draft, I certainly do not need to tell you he is also the closest to contributing regularly to an NHL club. Ideally, I would like the Jackets to select Eric Staal, but I fully expect he, along with Zherdev and Horton, will be selected before the Jackets get to select at #4.


DJAnimosity asks:
I’m curious about Joakim Lindstrom and his chances of having a decent training camp with the Jackets this year. I saw this kid in the World Juniors and he looked to be the best player for Sweden. Will he play in N. America this year?

In talking with Johan, who runs the Swedish Prospects site associated with, Jacket fans shouldn’t expect Joakim Lindstrom to be in North America next season. Joakim is scheduled to play another season with MoDo, as in late February he signed a new 2-year contract. While it is probably best for his development, with Lindstrom staying in Sweden for the near future might frustrate Jacket fans, with the clubs lack of success with 2nd round selections. Here’s hoping Joakim breaks that in the future.

Jackets63 asks:
What are the chances of (Petr)Tenrkat coming over? And what are realistic expectations we should have for Aaron Johnson and Cole Jarrett next year? Doesn’t their potential infusion make for a strong Crunch club next year? Also, whom does the Crunch look to for leadership if (Sean)Pronger and (David)Ling stick with the big club for another year? That sounded like their biggest drop off in losing their captain from last year (Sean Pronger). And, finally, who, of the players who have a realistic chance of making the club, will be leaving juniors, college or Europe to turn pro next season?

I’m uncertain of the odds of Petr Tenkrat coming over to play in the 2003-04 season. I haven’t heard of many Europeans who return to Europe for one season, then return back to the NHL. I’m uncertain if Tenkrat is a family man, but it seems as though it wouldn’t be the greatest to continue to move his family around so much. I personally wouldn’t have him pencilled into the line-up.

Aaron Johnson and Cole Jarrett should spend at least their first professional year in the American Hockey League. I think it’d be unrealistic for them to compete for NHL jobs, and I hope Jacket fans don’t expect Johnson to have such a great impact in his first professional season. Adding them to the Crunch will definitely improve the defense on the team, which was widely considered their sore-spot last season.

Of course, the Crunch will need to turn somewhere for leadership, and I think it might be some of the veteran Crunch to deliver. Perennial Crunch players like Mathieu Darche, Blake Bellefeuille and Derrel Scoville. It is time for players like these to step up and lead, if not vocally, then moreso by example. Time is running out for these players, who are becoming career-AHLers.

I wouldn’t expect any college players to make an impact in the Jackets line-up anytime soon. Justin Aikens, who plays for New Hampshire, is entering his 3rd year, Tyler Kolarik is entering his final year at Harvard, Greg Maulden is entering his 3rd year at UMass, Jekabs Redlihs is entering his 2nd season at Boston University, and Andrew Murray entering his 3rd year at Bemidji State. I fully expect all these players to play out their college careers, as they were all late-round picks, and there’s no sense in rushing them to professional hockey. As well, I do not expect any of these players to leave college early.

Kinger1 asks:
How is (Raffaele)Sannitz recovering from his dislocated hip and what are his chances of his playing next season in North America?

Raffaele Sannitz will not be in North America next season. As far as I’ve heard, and it is all just speculation (in fact it was hard getting any information on Sannitz) he will return to Lugano for another season. I’ve heard that his hip is fine, and hopefully it will not be a re-occurring injury for Sannitz. If I hear anything more on Sannitz, it will be on the Jackets board.

Osujacket asks:
Maybe you could provide your guess of 2001 draftees that will or won’t be offered contracts.

Obviously the Jackets have a few 2001 draftees under contract already, such as Syracuse Crunch members Pascal Leclaire and Tim Jackman. Do not expect Kiel McLeod to come to a contract agreement with the Jackets, who was selected 53rd overall in the 2nd round. 3rd round selection Aaron Johnson will almost certainly be offered a contract, and hopefully the Jackets can get him under contract and playing with the Crunch next season. Per Mars, selected two spots after Johnson should be offered one as well too, in order to maintain his rights. Cole Jarrett, the Jackets 5th round selection should also be tendered a contract, joining Johnson in Syracuse, with any luck. Justin Aikens may be a player the Jackets do not look at signing, who had 22 points in 42 games with Hockey East’s New Hampshire Wildcats. Ryan Bowness of the Brampton Battalion and Andrew Murray of Bemidji State University respectively are other candidates

RedK asks:
I assume (goaltender Andrew) Penner will turn pro next year. How do you think he will do in the pro game? What adjustments will he have to make? Where do you think he will end up?

The rumours are true. Andrew Penner has played his last junior game. I’m absolutely certain that Penner will end up with the Dayton Bombers of the East Coast Hockey League. There simply isn’t room for him in Syracuse, especially if the Jackets acquire another goaltender to push Labbe down to the minors to tutor Pascal Leclaire. The interesting thing with that theory is what happens to Karl Goehring, however. I doubt he’ll be bumped back down to the ECHL after his sensational season in the AHL.

How will Penner adjust to the pro game? It remains to be seen, but I figure he’ll adjust fine in the ECHL, similar to how Shane Bendera did (except with greater work ethic). The adjustments he’ll need to make, in talking with goalies turning pro, is the tempo of the game, as well as positioning within the net, puck-handling, and rebound control. From what I’ve heard though, the ECHL is similar paced and skilled to that of Major Junior, so Penner wont be shocked at the change.

Belgian Fan asks:
I was wondering how Pascal Leclaire is progressing? Is he expected to compete for a job in the big league next season already or is he going to stay another year in the AHL. Is he still projected to become a top 5 (or top 10) goalie or has his stock fallen a bit?

Pascal Leclaire definitely is not expected to compete for a job on the NHL roster this season. To expect him to do so in his second professional season just isn’t fair to Leclaire in my mind. He will certainly spend another season in the American Hockey League, although I would not be overly surprised that if he picks up his game there, he will get a half-dozen NHL games under his belt.

In terms of how Leclaire is progressing, it is hard to gauge moving from his last junior season to his first professional season, as there is a period of adaptation that each player must go through in making the jump. The game is obviously faster, with harder shots and more skilled players. As he gains experience, he will continue to improve. Leclaire is still projected to be the Columbus goaltender of the future, and still has the potential to be a top 10 goaltender in the league.

Edm121 asks:
Ok, other than the ubiquitous Andrej Nederost, do we have any prospects that would be ready for to legitimately compete for a position on the CBJ during training camp next year?

I can see Kent McDonnell getting a long look. He seems like a guy that could play solid on the 3rd or 4th line and benefit from being around professionals. It will be interesting to see how Aaron Johnson looks in camp as well, but I’m not expecting him to make the team by any means. Tim Jackman may also get a glimpse, but I’m expecting that Nedorost and the 2003 1st round selection will be the only two who get a real serious look.

JacketsRookie asks:
Who in the franchise can:
a) Contribute next year
B) Play in 2004
c) Play in 2005

Next season, the Jackets shouldn’t look for strong contributions from their prospects. Outside of Nedorost and Westcott (if you still want to consider him a prospect), I am not expecting any others to see regular time with the club. Of course, it would be very easy for me to be wrong, since we’re so far from the start of the regular season as is. Players like Tim Jackman, Kent McDonnell, and Matt Davidson can see their contributions to the big club increased. I’m also willing to take bets that Milan Michalek will be drafted by the Jackets, provided Zherdev, Staal and Horton are all gone at this time, and will contribute.

For the 2004-05 season, I can see defensemen Paul Manning, Aaron Johnson and goaltender Pascal Leclaire start to contribute more regularly to the club. However, the participation of the two defensemen depend on the state of the Jackets defense at that time. Don MacLean might be another. I’m uncertain whether or not the Jackets will see any Euro influx in 2004-05, simply because it is much harder to get a reading on their intentions.

For the 2005-2006 season, taking a huge leap into the future, I can see a player like Joakim Lindstrom having a strong impact on the club. His contract with MoDo expires after the 2004-05 season, and the experience playing against men in the Swedish Elite League will give him the ability to jump straight into the NHL. Outside shots for contributions include Tim Konsorada and defenseman Cole Jarrett.

CBJHockey61 asks:
Should the Jackets listen to offers for Leclaire? Teams like Colorado and New Jersey, who have solid but aging netminders, might be interested…and these teams could also, with the talent they have, give Columbus something worth value in return.

I’m personally against listening to offers for Leclaire. I’m not certain there is a huge market for an unproven goaltender who struggled in his first professional season. Leclaire does have huge potential, tons of upside, but I can’t see Colorado looking towards Leclaire to solve their goaltending problems when Patrick Roy is so close to retirement and Leclaire at least 2 seasons away from strong contributions. A team like New Jersey wouldn’t be interested either, not with Ari Ahonen coming up through the system. Other teams like Los Angeles could be interested, but they may be looking for more immediate help. Right now, I think Leclaire has more value to the Jackets than any other team, I cannot see a team overpay for his services.

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