Blue Jackets: Andrej Nedorost Challenging in Camp

By Aaron Vickers

There typically isn’t much pressure on the seventh to last selection in National Hockey League Entry Draft, to perform at the professional level.
Good luck
trying to tell that to Columbus Blue Jacket prospect Andrej Nedorost.

In their first ever draft in 2000,
Columbus Blue Jackets selected the notable Rostislav Klesla, but other 2000 draftees haven’t turned out to be notable. Andrej Nedorost is making a strong bid to
show the
organization who selected him with the 286th
overall pick that the draft was not wasted after Klesla.

Andrej, who was 20 at the time of the 2000 NHL
Entry Draft,
was playing with the Essen Mosquitoes of Germany’s Elite League.
Nedorost, a
native of Trenien, Slovakia, moved from Slovakia at the tender age of
18 to
play in the Deutsche Eishockey League in Germany, in an attempt to
further his
career. It was while playing with Essen that he caught the eye of

Overlooked in both the 1998 and 1999 Entry Drafts,
a change
of scenery allowed Nedorost to further round out his game in Germany,
with Essen Jr., the top team in Germany’s junior league. Despite not
putting up
the strong numbers in the German junior league that he routinely
while playing in Slovakia, it wasn’t long before Nedorost was invited
to play
with the big club. His shot with the Essen Mosquitoes, who happened to
be the
last place team in the Deutsche Eishockey League at the time, allowed
more exposure to scouts than he’d seen previously in his career.

Taking a chance on a slightly older draftee,
General Manager
Doug MacLean trusted European Scout Kjell Larson in his decision to
select the
20-year-old prospect. Dismissed after the draft as just another ninth
selection, Nedorost packed his bags once again, all for the sake of
his development.

His next move saw him leave Germany, after an
relegation-round run with Essen, a run that saw him match his seasonal
of six points in 55 games, doing so in only eleven games. The next move
Nedorost had him heading closer to home, as Andrej signed to play with
HC Plenz
of the Czech league.

Used sparingly, Nedorost, now property of the
Columbus Blue
Jackets, had much more of an offensive impact with HC Plenz, recording
points, ten of which were goals, while playing in 33 games, only
dressing in
just over 60% of the club’s games. Injuries plagued Nedorost in his
season with
HC Plenz, limiting the young forward’s progress. Despite this though,
it was
clear Nedorost had improved. What was clearly improving in Nedorost,
was his ability to play at both ends of the ice. Nedorost, once a
one-dimensional offensive threat, was now developing into more of a
forward, and was ready to make his way over to North America, and give
across the pond a go.

There are significant differences between European
and North
American hockey, and undoubtedly Andrej Nedorost was one to find that
Playing his first season with the Columbus Blue Jackets American
Hockey League
affiliate Syracuse Crunch, Nedorost was introduced to a smaller rink,
hitting, and an entirely new culture.

Just like the season before, lack of in-game
action limited
the development of Nedorost. In his first season with the Syracuse
Nedorost was able to dress for less than half of the club’s games,
playing in
only 37 contests. As Nedorost was eased into an offensive role with the
Syracuse Crunch, injuries again discouraged the Slovak, whose
abilities allowed him to register 13 assists on the season, and potted
more goals.

Despite his mediocre season with the Syracuse
Nedorost was still able to enjoy an offering from the Columbus Blue
Jackets in
2001-02. Nedorost, a late season call-up for the Jackets, managed to
get a
taste for the National Hockey League by participating, in a limited
role, in
seven NHL contests. Again, displaying his playmaking ability, Nedorost
two assists in seven contests, including one in his first NHL game.

The goal of playing in the National Hockey
League remained with Nederost, especially after his late season call-up. Heading
into camp
for the 2002-03 season, Nedorost looked primed to take over a spot on
one of
the bottom two lines for Columbus, if not one on the second scoring
unit for
the Blue Jackets. Despite having a very strong camp, Andrej was
reassigned to
the Syracuse Crunch two days before the start of the 2002-03 campaign.

Nederost took
opportunity to develop into one of the Crunch’s most dangerous
threats. Not only did Nedorost improve upon his offensive abilities,
his on-ice vision and playmaking skills, but he also developed
key in his game, an aspect that will help him make the jump to the next

Recording 85 minutes in penalties with the
Syracuse Crunch,
an element of grit was added to Nedorost’s game, which had
missing thus far. His newfound grit was as
much a
realization of what it takes to get to the next level, as it was a
adjustment to the North American style of play. Nedorost, widely
referred to as
the most dynamic player on the Crunch, was now working the play down
low and
grinding in the corners.

Now, with two seasons of American Hockey League
and a handful of National Hockey League games under his belt, more is
to be
expected of the Slovakian. Nedorost is one of few battling for a
remaining job
on the Columbus Blue Jackets roster. His game is not perfect. While his
and physical play has improved, it may still be a notch or two below
expected level of a player skating a regular shift. Despite this,
Nedorost has displayed his offensive gift, one so remarkable that it
may have
him in a Columbus Blue Jackets jersey more often than not for the

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