Blue Jackets: Overseas prospects

By Aaron Vickers

Being across the ocean has many perks

2003 Overseas

Below is an update on 10 players in the Blue Jackets organization playing

Joakim Lindstrom
– Center – MoDo Hockey Ornskoldsvik (SEL) – Selected in the Second
Round (41st Overall) in 2002

Height: 6’0

Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left

Birthdate: December 5th, 1983
Birthplace: Skelleftea, Sweden

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
01-02 MoDo Sweden 10 2 3 5 2 7 0 1 1 0
02-03 MoDo Sweden 42 4 3 7 20 14 3 5 8 8

Joakim Lindstrom struggled through the
2002-03 season while playing for MoDo of the Swedish Elite League. His
play did not meet up with expectations and was unable to take
significant strides in his development. While he did manage to stay
with MoDo the entire season, his point production was horrid, and well
below expectations. The lone bright spot in his season may very well be
his postseason, in which he recorded more points in 14 postseason games
than he managed to in 42 regular season games.

Despite his poor season, Lindstrom is still a very talented forward, who
has showed his ability to adapt, displaying his ability to play both
the wing and center. He has fine offensive skills, which were on
display in the postseason, and like many other Blue Jacket prospects,
he isn’t one to shy away from heavy traffic. His offense-first attitude
may need to be adjusted to round out his entire game, which will come
as he continues to mature as a player. Lindstrom’s game still needs a
significant amount of refinement, and should not be expected to come
across to play in North America until 2005-06, as he just signed a two
year contract with MoDo in February.

– Center – Lugano (LNSw) – Selected in the Seventh Round
(204th Overall) in 2001

Height: 6’1
Weight: 187 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: May 18th, 1983
Birthplace: Mendrisio, Switzerland

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
99-00 Lugano Swiss 1 0 0 0 2
00-01 Lugano Swiss 13 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0
01-02 Lugano Swiss 35 3 4 7 37
02-03 Lugano Swiss 14 1 1 2 35

Raffaele Sannitz, much like Joakim Lindstrom, had a difficult season,
but for different reasons. Sannitz missed a large portion of the
2002-03 season, including the World Junior Championships sidelined
with a separated shoulder. Raffaele managed to participate in only 14
games with Lugano. Sannitz was unable to put up
any numbers at all offensively in what is regarded as one of Europe’s
less spectacular leagues. Sannitz’s shoulder could also be an issue of concern, as
Raffaele looks to put the 2002-03 season behind him.

Should Sannitz be able to put together a strong campaign for himself
during the 2003-04 season, he may be able to put himself back into the
plans of the Blue Jackets organization. As of now, there is no
estimated projection to get Sannitz in North America.

– Center – Spartak Moscow (RUS) – Selected in the Sixth
Round (187th Overall) in 2001

Height: 6’1
Weight: 175 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: March 23rd, 1983
Birthplace: Togliatti, Russia

Season Team League GPG A P PIM GP G A P PIM
01-02 Lada
Russia 12 1 1 2 0
01-02 Samara Russia 17 1 4 5 36
02-03 Spartak
Russia 20 2 3 5 0

Artem Vostrikov, a center, was made the 187th selection in the
2001 Entry Draft. The sixth rounder from Togliatti, Russia is a dynamic
playmaker, when given the opportunity to see icetime. Finding time on
the ice for a regular shift has not been a problem for Vostrikov,
however quality minutes are something that Vostrikov had lacked with
Togliatti Lada. With Spartak Moscow, Vostrikov had a much more
successful campaign, with five points in twenty games.

Vostrikov is also no stranger to international competition. He boasts a resume complete with an appearance at the 2002 World Junior
Championships, as well as well as the Under 18 Five Nations Tournament.
Unspectacular but steady, Vostrikov has become a dependable player that
Russia can call on in international play.

– Right Wing – Zlin ZPS HC (CZECH) – Selected in the
Sixth Round (184th Overall) in 2002

Height: 6’0
Weight: 198 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: November 28th, 1979
Birthplace: Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
98-99 Zlin
Czech 41 4 8 12 10 9 1 0 1 0
99-00 Zlin
Czech 48 7 10 17 14
00-01 Zlin
Czech 52 8 17 25 32 6 1 1 2 6
01-02 Zlin
Czech 50 25 19 44 32 11 3 5 8 14
02-03 HPK
Finland 13 5 7 12 2
02-03 Zlin
Czech 31 14 8 22 26

Jaroslav Balastik has the size and aggressiveness to fit in with
the North American style of play. Standing at 6’0", and weighing in at
close to 200 lbs, Jarsolav does not need to add too much size in order
to survive the rigors of a professional season in North America. The
question remains whether or not Balastik will in fact make the trip
across the ocean, however. He’s shown amazing loyalty to his current
club. No arrival date is expected for this Czech.

Balastik, who has spent parts of the previous six seasons with his club team Zlin ZPS HC, couldn’t duplicate the magic he displayed the
previous season when he set career marks in goals, assists and points.
Splitting his season between the Finnish team HPK Hameenlinna and his
Czech team could have played a fair role in this, as Balastik had an
entirely new set of teammates to adjust to for 13 games.

Jaroslav is also no stranger to international competition. Just
recently, Balastik, hailing from Uherske Hradiste, competed in the
International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Cup. Recording one goal in eight games, the former sixth round selection saw limited action, but
represented his country proudly nonetheless.

– Right Wing – Plzen HC (CZECH) – Selected in the
Eighth Round (231st Overall) in 2002

Height: 6’0
Weight: 178 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: January 18th, 1983
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
99-00 Plzen
51 32 36 68 32
00-01 Plzen
47 20 28 48 16
01-02 Plzen
39 14 35 49 46
01-02 Plzen
Czech 4 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 1 0
02-03 Plzen
Czech 4 0 0 0 0

Jaroslav Kracik, the Jackets 12th selection in the 2002 Entry
Draft, has had trouble playing in 2002-03. Participating in only
four games is difficult on the development of a 20-year-old, especially
one looking to make the jump to the Czech Senior League. Kracik’s
offensive talent should not be questioned. He has a nose for the net
and strong playmaking skills. He will have to prove himself all over
again, however, when he is able to make the jump from Plzen Jr, to
Plzen HC.

The native of Prague, Kracik isn’t counted on to come to North America
anytime soon. His next step is to secure a regular role with Plzen HC.
Once he is able to do that, the next step would be considering a trip
overseas. One should not expect Kracik over to
North America anytime in the near future.

– Right Wing – Jokerit Jr (FIN JR) – Selected in the
Fifth Round (138th Overall) in 2003

Height: 6’3
Weight: 163 lbs
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: July 23rd, 1985
Birthplace: Jyvaskyla, Finland

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
02-03 Jokerit
32 8 9 17 8

Arsi Piispanen could very well be one of the most interesting
selections in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and one of the more intriguing
Jacket prospects.
Hockey’s Future Magazine had projected Arsi to go from the mid-to-late
second round. The potential surrounding Piispanen is phenomenal for a
fifth rounder, however his ability to reach his potential has come into
question. In fact, it isn’t likely that Piispanen will reach his
potential at all. Standing at a towering 6’3″, Arsi weighs in at a meager 165 pounds, and isn’t likely to balloon past the 200 pound mark.

Coupled with the weight issue is also an issue of time. Piispanen is
still playing with Jokerit Jr, and has yet to taste competition against
men. A regular spot on SM-Liiga doesn’t seem to be in the immediate
future for Piispanen, who will likely return to playing in the junior
ranks. Expect Piispanen to master his craft while playing in Finland,
with no estimated time of arrival to see Arsi in a Blue Jackets

– Right Wing – HC CSKA Moscow (RUS) – Selected in the
First Round (4th Overall) in 2003

Height: 6’1
Weight: 186 lbs
Shoots: Right
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Birthdate: November 5th, 1984

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
00-01 Elemash Russia
18 5 8 13 12
01-02 Elemash Russia
53 13 15 28 60
02-03 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 44 12 12 24 34

What is there left to say about Nikolai Zherdev that hasn’t
already been said? He is clearly the top
prospect in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. The offensive tools
at the disposal of Zherdev are seemingly endless. In fact, his prowess
in the offensive end is second to none in his draft class. His
stickhandling ability, excellent speed, and superb on-ice vision,
Zherdev has the ability to step into the Blue Jackets line-up at any

While Zherdev still remains unsigned, there is still the opportunity
for him to suit up in a Blue Jackets uniform. He currently has no
obligations to CSKA, as he is not under contract for the 2003-04
season. Columbus fans shouldn’t hold their breath, however, as it
appears likely that the Kiev, Ukraine native will spend another year
under the watchful eye of skilled coach Viktor Tikhonov.

– Left Wing – HC CSKA Moscow (RUS) – Selected in the Ninth
Round (263rd Overall) in 2002

Height: 5’10
Weight: 165 lbs
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: March 30th, 1981
Birthplace: Yaroslavl, Russia

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
98-99 Val
D’or Foreurs
QMJHL 4 0 1 1 2
99-00 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 44 23 25 48 10
00-01 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 46 22 28 52 18
01-02 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 54 34 30 64 10 12 9 12 21 4
02-03 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 33 12 15 27 18

Sergei Mozyakin is a fine offensive player. His statistics show
that he has neither a problem finding the back of the net, nor helping
his teammates do the same. He has fast hands, and NHL-caliber speed. The fact that
Mozyakin stands at only 5’10” places a concern on whether or not the
Yaroslavl native has the size to play North American hockey. Even
worse, Mozyakin tips the scales at a lean 165lbs. Mozyakin
has obstacles to overcome if he desires to play in the NHL.

Despite his size, Mozyakin displays undeniable offensive talent. It is
this reason, and this reason alone that makes the Blue Jackets ninth
round selection in 2002 an interesting one. There should be no expected date of arrival for
the CSKA scorer.

– Left Wing – Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (RUS) – Selected in
the Fourth Round (98th Overall) in 2002

Height: 5’10
Weight: 183 lbs
Shoots: Left
Birthdate: November 9th, 1979
Birthplace: Yaroslavl, Russia

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
99-00 Nizhnekamsk
Russia 5 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 0
00-01 Nizhnekamsk
Russia 28 2 2 4 14 4 0 1 1 5
01-02 Yaroslavl
Russia 43 13 21 34 53 9 5 2 7 4
02-03 Yaroslavl
Russia 44 11 6 17 57

Ivan Tkachenko, previously the highest selected Russian selected by the
Columbus Blue Jackets, saw his special
distinction fall with the selection of Nikolai Zherdev. Nonetheless, it
does not take away from the abilities of the Yaroslavl native. Tkachenko may compete for a spot down
the left wing as early as 2003-04.

It was Tkachenko’s speed and agility that made him such an attraction.
Ivan has been described as having a quick set of hands, and an even
faster set of feet. His rapid acceleration and lateral movement makes
him an explosive skater, who isn’t afraid to dart in and out of
traffic. In fact, the only downside of the crafty winger seems to be
his lack of size, standing in at 5’11”, and his mediocre shot.

– Defense – HC CSKA Moscow (RUS) – Selected in the
Third Round (71st Overall) in 2003

Height: 6’3
Weight: 205 lbs
Shoots: Right
Birthdate: June 7th, 1985
Birthplace: Nizhni-Novgorod, Russia

Season Team League GP G A P PIM GP G A P PIM
01-02 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 49 0 1 1 12
02-03 HC
CSKA Moscow
Russia 27 0 0 0 2

CSKA Moscow is certainly well represented within
the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. With the likes of Zherdev and
Mozyakin already in the organization, Columbus felt the need to bring
in another member of the club. Dimitri Kosmachev, the third round
selection of the Columbus Blue Jackets adds a unique flavor to the
back end of the Columbus organization. The hulking 6’3″
blueliner already possesses the physical attributes to contribute at at
NHL level. His ‘cool and calm’ demeanor shows that his mental game is
as tough as any 18 year old. The only unflattering comment that the
defensive defenseman could receive is his lack of physical play,
despite his stature. Nonetheless, Kosmachev is still effective in his
own end, in both clearing the front of the net, and suffocating
opposing players along the boards.

Kosmachev is best suited to spend the next few seasons under Viktor
Tikhonov. There is no need to rush Kosmachev to the National Hockey
League, no sense in spoiling what could eventually become the Blue
Jackets third or fourth defenseman for years to come. Expect his
arrival date to North America to be 2005-06.