Blue Jackets Top 20 prospects

By Aaron Vickers

Top 20 at a Glance

1. Nikolai Zherdev, RW, 8.5B
2. Gilbert Brule, C, 8.0B
3. Alexandre Picard, LW, 7.5B
4. Danny Fritsche, C, 7.5B
5. Pascal Leclaire, G, 8.0C
6. Adam Pineault, RW, 7.5C
7. Aaron Johnson, D, 7.0A
8. Adam McQuaid, D, 7.0B
9. Joakim Lindstrom, C, 6.5B
10. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, D, 6.5B
11. Kyle Wharton, D, 6.5B
12. Tim Jackman, RW, 6.5C
13. Tim Konsorada, C, 6.0B
14. Marc Methot, D, 6.0B
15. Kris Russell, D, 6.5D
16. Arsi Piispanen, RW, 6.5D
17. Tomas Popperle, G 6.0C
18. Daniel LaCosta, G, 6.0C
19. Petr Pohl, RW, 6.0C
20. Trevor Hendrikx, D, 5.5B

Key: Rank (previous rank) Name, position
Acquired, height, weight, age

1. (1) Nikolai Zherdev, RW
1st Round, 4th Overall 2003, 6’1, 186 lbs, 20

After a dramatic entrance into the National Hockey League two seasons ago after legal issues with the Russian Federation, explosive forward Nikolai Zherdev returned to his home country to play hockey with CSKA Moscow during the NHL lockout. Zherdev, just one season removed from a four-point season in the Russian Super League, returned to record 40 points, including 19 goals, to lead his former club.

There is absolutely no doubt that Nikolai Zherdev will return to the Columbus Blue Jackets in a second-line scoring role, in an attempt to duplicate and improve upon the 34 points the Kiev, Ukraine native scored in his abbreviated rookie campaign. With the NHL’s revamped rules aimed at opening up flow and limiting obstruction, Zherdev should flourish.

There will be more pressure this season on Zherdev to contribute, though, and not just offensively. A younger Zherdev would’ve been left to roam in the defensive zone, but with maturity comes responsibility for him, as he turns 21 in November. His dynamic hands, excellent wheels and impressive shot are his calling card though. Consistency will be the key for the young forward this season, as Columbus looks to improve in the standings.

2. (NR) Gilbert Brule, C
1st Round, 6th Overall 2005, 5’11, 175lbs, 18

The smile on the face of Blue Jackets General Manager Doug MacLean told the entire story for Columbus’ 2005 NHL Entry Draft. The reason for the smile was Vancouver Giants forward Gilbert Brule, who finished third among the league’s top scorers with 87 points, 39 of them goals, in 70 games played.

Brule, the WHL’s 2004 Rookie of the Year, fell to the Blue Jackets after two surprise selections – Bobby Ryan to Anaheim and Montreal’s selection of Carey Price. Brule, once projected to be the top player available after the coveted Sidney Crosby, tumbled not because of a disappointing season, which also included being named most valuable player of the CHL’s Top Prospects Game held in his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, but because of the selections that happened before Columbus’ turn.

Although many are hopeful that Brule will be able to step in and have an impact similar to that of Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, Brule is best suited to return to the Western Hockey League to continue to develop his game and mature, both on the ice and off. While there have been whispers of contract negotiations between MacLean and Brule, the fact remains that Brule is almost certain to return to the Vancouver Giants this season.

A mix of finesse and aggression, the relatively undersized Brule brings as much offensive flair to anyone currently in the organization. His soft hands, excellent vision and hard shot make him a threat the moment he steps over center ice. He has been criticized, though, for being overly selfish with the puck, and his 169 penalty minutes, tops among the top 20 scorers in the league, is evident of his selfish temper and short fuse.

3. (4) Alexandre Picard, LW
1st Round, 8th Overall 2004, 6’2, 190lbs, 19

After signing a contract with Columbus August 29th, it appears as if the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s MAINEiacs will lose their top forward from the 2004-05 season. Picard, who spent last season with the Lewiston franchise, was selected eighth overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, after the team opted to trade down from the fourth overall selection. Confident he could have Picard later in the draft, GM Doug MacLean successfully gambled.

Picard scored 40 goals and 85 points last season for Lewiston ranking him 21st in scoring for the entire Canadian Hockey League, will be given every opportunity to make the Blue Jackets this season, something that MacLean undoubtedly wants to see. Still, though, no roster position will be handed to the native of Les Saules, Quebec native.

A blend of power, strength and scoring, Picard isn’t afraid of physical play that he’ll undoubtedly see at the next level of hockey. While it’ll be a significant jump from the physical nature of the QMJHL, Picard is a hard-nosed individual that looks for physical confrontation, especially in the corners of the offensive zone. Likened to Ryan Smyth of the Edmonton Oilers, Picard’s game is nearly identical to the man dubbed ‘Captain Canada’, right down to the hunched over skating style and crash-and-bang attitude.

4. (3) Danny Fritsche, C
2nd Round, 46th Overall 2003, 6’1, 198lbs, 20

After a shoulder injury kept captain Danny Fritsche out of all but two games for the Sarnia Sting, he was dealt to the powerhouse London Knights, the top junior team in the country. Joining the likes of Corey Perry, Dylan Hunter and Robbie Schremp, Fritsche exploded offensively, something that Columbus was expecting out of their former 46th overall selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Coming off his third shoulder surgery, a recurring problem for the Parma, Ohio native throughout his career, Fritsche managed to record an impressive 35 points in 28 games for the Knights. He also helped the Knights to an OHL championship, as well as a Memorial Cup, junior hockey’s ultimate prize.

After playing 19 games in Columbus colors in 2003-04, Fritsche was returned to the Sting to finish his season. Thought to be a lock to return to the Blue Jackets the following season, the National Hockey League lockout kept him in the Ontario Hockey League. Now, though, with the puck set to drop on the 2005-06 season, Fritsche can expect a return to the Blue Jackets lineup, in a much more prominent role than two seasons ago.

An excellent player with no major flaws, Fritsche combines every element an organization could hope for – except durability. Quite possibly the only thing that will hold Fritsche back from a long, successful career is his ability to stay healthy. Always one to play with an edge, it is possible that Fritsche will be asked to play a less physical game, simply to ease the wear on his shoulders. With an exceptional blend of playmaking and scoring ability, evident in his soft hands and accurate shot, offensive production shouldn’t be a concern for Fritsche.

5. (2) Pascal Leclaire, G
1st Round, 8th Overall 2001, 6’2, 190lbs, 22

Though it takes goaltenders longer to develop, time and patience may be running out for 2001 first round draft selection Pascal Leclaire. Drafted in the hopes that he’d become a franchise goalkeeper, inconsistent play and injuries have riddled the Repentigny, Quebec native throughout his professional career. Yet to establish himself as a full-time starter in the American Hockey League, Leclaire was well on his way to doing so this past season, before injuries took their toll.

Playing in just 14 games last season, Leclaire began to show signs of having his breakout year. Despite a poor 5-6-3 record, Leclaire posted impressive individual numbers, including a 2.34 goals against average and a .926 save percentage, all of which are personal bests for the former Halifax Moosehead backstop.

After the offseason signing of Martin Prusek, formally of the Ottawa Senators, it has become clear that Leclaire is destined yet again for a return to the Syracuse Crunch. Reportedly upset by the signing, Leclaire will be forced to take it in stride, and return to the AHL until he can turn in an impressive, complete season.

Despite possessing an abundance of natural talent that includes cat-like reflexes, strong rebound control and an impressive glove hand, Leclaire has yet to be able to translate that into success at the professional level. Often one to let in a soft goal after a spectacular save, Leclaire needs to adjust mentally before he’s ready to step on the ice and challenge current starting goaltender Marc Denis for the position between the pipes.

6. (5) Adam Pineault, RW
2nd Round, 46th Overall 2004, 6’2, 208lbs, 19

After a year spent struggling with Boston College, the 2004-05 season was much kinder to Holyoke, Massachusetts native Adam Pineault. Pineault, who accelerated his schooling in order to join BC early, opted instead to head to the QMJHL and joined the Moncton Wildcats.

After a disappointing 8 points in 29 games in college, Pineault saw more opportunity and ice time playing with the Wildcats. While playing in 61 games, Columbus’ second round selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft registered 46 points, including 26 goals. Pineault, who missed time from both injury and while representing the United States at the 2005 World Junior Championships, is expected to return to Moncton for the 2005-06 season.

Not afraid to mix it up physically, he blends sheer physical force with a strong offensive touch. Standing at 6’2 and over 200lbs, Pineault still has time to fill out even more, something that the Blue Jackets are hoping for in their projected power forward. With a long, powerful stride and solid hands, Pineault is a threat to carry the puck into the offensive zone and release his wicked slapshot, something he utilizes as frequently as possible.

7. (6) Aaron Johnson, D
3rd Round, 85th Overall 2001, 6’2, 197lbs, 22

Poised to make a strong push to skate on the Blue Jackets blue line after a locked out 2004-05 season, defenseman Aaron Johnson isn’t about to take the chance lightly. After playing in over one-third of Columbus’ games in 2003-04 and recording eight points, he should again see at least as many games.

Johnson, who spent last season with Columbus’ American Hockey League affiliate the Syracuse Crunch, recorded 140 penalty minutes, his highest since skating with his junior club the Rimouski Oceanic. His 23 points were second among defensemen on the club, with only veteran AHLer Francois Beauchemin leading the way with 30 points.

With strong offensive flair, Johnson may very well be the team’s best chance at a power play quarterback this season. With excellent vision, crisp passing and an ability to get his shots through from the point, Johnson’s best facet could very well be his quick transitional game, which he’s easily managed to adjust to the professional level.

8. (NR) Adam McQuaid, D
2nd Round, 55th Overall 2005, 6’3, 197lbs, 19

One area of concern that Doug MacLean was able to address during the 2005 NHL Entry Draft was the organization’s blue line depth. With the selection of Adam McQuaid in the second round, 55th overall, MacLean made an attempt to add another stay-at-home defenseman. Aside from inaugural first round selection Rostislav Klesla, McQuaid becomes the highest selected defenseman in Columbus history.

While playing on a club that boasted fellow 2005 draftees Marc Staal and Benoit Pouliot, McQuaid quietly went about his season en route to leading the Sudbury Wolves in plus/minus with a +31 rating, while compiling 19 points in 66 games this season. Playing somewhat of a disciplined game, McQuaid registered 98 minutes in penalties, well shy of Edmonton Oilers prospect Zach Stortini’s team lead of 186.

Standing at 6’3, 197lbs, McQuaid already boasts NHL size. With a large wingspan, he is able to blend his physical brand with an ability to contain and stick-check his opposition. Along the boards and in front of the net McQuaid is ruthless, using his sheer size and strength to manhandle his opponents. Like most defensive defensemen, though, he doesn’t possess a lot of offensive flair, but shows good poise with the puck and a strong outlet pass.

9. (8) Joakim Lindstrom, C
2nd Round, 41st Overall 2002, 6’1, 187lbs, 21

After struggling to get forward Nikolai Zherdev out of Russia, this locked out season saw Swedish forward Joakim Lindstrom fail to receive clearance to join the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. That didn’t necessarily stop the forward, though.

Lindstrom spent the 2004-05 season skating with both MoDo and the Syracuse Crunch. Starting the season with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League, the native of Skelleftea, Sweden skated in 37 games, recording 5 points and 24 minutes in penalties. At the conclusion of MoDo’s season, and after failing to gain clearance from the Swedish hockey federation, Lindstrom went ahead and joined the Syracuse Crunch for the remainder of the American Hockey League schedule. Dressing for 13 games for the Crunch, Lindstrom recorded eight points, including four goals.

Possessing great offensive skills, Lindstrom should need little time to adapt to the North American style of game and produce at a strong offensive pace. With good vision, offensive instincts and superb passing ability, Lindstrom is ready to step into a scoring role in Syracuse. While he plays somewhat of a physical brand of hockey, Lindstrom has been tentative at times, somewhat unsurprising due to the fact that he’s had shoulder problems.

Lindstrom will likely suit up in North America this season, something that the Blue Jackets have been hoping to see for quite some time now. After signing a contract with Syracuse, he will be playing with the Crunch this season. Lindstrom has been suspended for 26 games by the Swedish hockey federation based on his decision to leave MoDo to skate in Syracuse last season.

10. (7) Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, D
3rd Round, 65th Overall 2002, 6’1, 187lbs, 21

After finishing his junior career with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League, Norwegian defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen made his professional debut with the Syracuse Crunch. Tollefsen, who also spent a pair of games in the ECHL with the Dayton Bombers, was selected 65th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Tollefsen’s time spent in the American Hockey League was a good step in his development path. Although he registered just 3 assists in 64 games, defensively he was able to adequately adjust to the pace of another league. More importantly, though, is that Tollefsen managed to play nearly the entire season, staying relatively healthy for the first time in years.

A rough and tumble defenseman, ‘OK’ loves the physical part of the sport and certainly loves to punish opposing forwards with strong hits. Credited with injuring a pair of forwards with punishing hits from the 2003 Blue Jackets training camp, Tollefsen isn’t intimidated to be playing at the highest level. While he will not provide much offensively, the Oslo, Norway native certainly isn’t a liability on the ice.

With 66 professional games under his belt, it only seems logical that Tollefsen returns to the Syracuse Crunch to further develop his game. With a strong camp, though, the blueliner could see some time over the course of the season with the Blue Jackets.

11. (10) Kyle Wharton, D
2nd Round, 59th Overall 2004, 6’3, 185lbs, 19

After an injury riddled 2003-04 season, defenseman Kyle Wharton made strides at completing his first full season in the Ontario Hockey League. Wharton, Columbus’ 59th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has struggled in the past with varying injuries, but set a career high in games played during the 2004-05 season, skating with two teams for a combined 57 games, 14 more than last season.

Wharton split the season between two franchises. After starting the season with the Ottawa 67’s, for whom he played with the last two years, he was shipped off to the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds. Scoring 13 points in 29 games in Ottawa, Wharton recorded another four goals and 16 points, for a combined total of 29 points. Able to display his above average offensive instincts, his totals set career highs in goals, assists and points.

With a strong blend of offensive awareness and defensive prowess, Wharton should develop into a prototypical two-way defenseman. Although his offensive numbers were somewhat of a disappointment for a player who was seen in the light of an offensive defenseman, Wharton rounded out his defensive game considerably.

12. (12) Tim Jackman, RW
2nd Round, 38th Overall 2001, 6’3, 201lbs, 23

After a successful 2003-04 campaign which saw him score 23 goals in his rookie season with the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League, forward Tim Jackman struggled to duplicate his success in a locked out 2004-05 season. Jackman, who would’ve competed for a spot on the Blue Jackets had there not been a work stoppage, seemingly regressed offensively despite an increased role, coupled with increased expectations.

Playing in 73 games with Syracuse, Jackman scored only 14 times, 9 shy of his previous season, and finished with 35 points. Known as a physical, banging winger, Jackman did register 98 minutes in penalties, finding time to be both physical and disciplined at the same time.

Although the organization has high hopes for Jackman, who was selected in the second round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Jackman is close to running out of time to prove that he can develop into someone Columbus can count on for their top two lines. With an abundance of role players in the system already, Jackman needs to find the offensive instincts which helped him score in his rookie season.

Much like last season, though, Jackman could find himself competing for a roster spot if he has a strong camp with Columbus. Impressive with his physical play, Jackman also skates well despite carrying a 6’3, 201lb frame. Seeing 19 games in the NHL in his first professional season, the Blue Jackets may certainly use Jackman as one of their first call-ups should they run into injury problems or require a roster shakeup.

13. (11) Tim Konsorada, C
6th Round, 168th Overall 2002, 6’1, 208lbs, 21

Finishing among the Western Hockey League’s top names in scoring is a fitting way for the now former Brandon Wheat King captain Tim Konsorada to close out his junior career. Bothered all last season with a nagging shoulder injury, he was able to play in 71 of 72 games, nearly triple that of his 2003-04 season when it was discovered in Blue Jackets training camp that he had suffered a dislocated shoulder.

His 85 points placed Konsorada fourth in league scoring, behind only fellow Blue Jackets prospect Gilbert Brule and Wheat King teammates Eric Fehr and Ryan Stone. His 58 assists placed him behind only Stone’s 66 assists for the league lead as well. More interesting, though, was that Konsorada rarely played with Brandon’s dynamic duo, opting to quarterback the second line, while still playing on the blue line in the power play.

A tough, gritty leader, Konsorada also possesses some offensive potential, though not as much as the statistics would indicate for the overager. Able to make crisp passes and display above average vision, Konsorada’s biggest strength lies in his ability to play a first-rate two-way game. A member of all of Brandon’s special teams, Konsorada excels in the defensive end, making him not only an offensive threat but a defensive one as well.

14. (NR) Marc Methot, D
6th Round, 168th Overall 2003, 6’3, 193lbs, 20

In terms of overall accomplishments, few had a junior season like London Knights defenseman Marc Methot. The Knights, who had the most impressive record in recent memory not only wrapped up an Ontario Hockey League title, but also won the Memorial Cup on home ice.

Methot, a key cog in the defense of the Knights, recorded his best junior season. Not to be confused with an offensive defenseman, Methot still managed to set career highs in goals with four, assists with 12 and points with 16 while finishing in the top five in plus/minus, with a +52 rating.

A no nonsense defenseman, Methot is the ideal example of a stay-at-home defenseman. Reliable, consistent and simple, he doesn’t take any chances while in the defensive zone, and even fewer in the offensive zone, not willing to gamble at the expense of getting caught out of position. Often settling to dump the puck up off the boards or glass and out of the zone, Methot makes sure all of his defensive responsibilities are met. While his outlet pass and overall vision heading up the ice has improved, he will no sooner be mistaken for an offensive player. Possessing good size, Methot isn’t shy in introducing himself to opposing forwards, either.

It is extremely likely that the organization will assign Methot to the Syracuse Crunch during their 2005 training camp. Methot, who signed an entry-level rookie contract last month, is neither physically nor mentally prepared for a regular stint in the NHL. This isn’t to say, though, that Methot will not see any action at all. The franchise has a history of offering their younger players a chance at spot duty, something that is very likely for Methot to experience.

15. (NR) Kris Russell, D
3rd Round, 67th Overall 2005, 5’10, 160lbs, 18

After finishing third in the Western Hockey League for points among defensemen, Columbus couldn’t pass on pint-sized Kris Russell. Russell, twin brother of Kootenay Ice forward Ryan Russell, who was selected in the third round by the Blue Jackets, outscored the likes of Calgary Flames prospect Dion Phaneuf, Chicago Blackhawks prospects Dustin Byfuglien, Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook, as well as Braydon Coburn of Atlanta and Shawn Belle of the Dallas Stars.

After finishing third on the Medicine Hat Tigers in scoring with 61 points while skating in all 72 games this season, Russell edged out former third overall selection Barker to be named the team’s most valuable defenseman.

With an exceptional grasp of the game, Russell thinks the game from the blue line as good as any defenseman in the WHL. His offensive skills are first rate, including excellent vision, strong skating, and a surprisingly hard shot considering he stands at 5’10, 160lbs. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of Russell, though, is his strong defensive play. Although he gives up nearly 40lbs on most opposing forwards, Russell is rarely outmuscled due to his strong positional and leverage-based defensive style. The only question marks surrounding the Carolina, Alberta native are his size, and if it will become a problem the further he advances in his career.

16. (9) Arsi Piispanen, RW
5th Round, 138th Overall 2003, 6’3, 163lbs, 20

In his first full season in Finland’s top league, Arsi Piispanen established himself as a player that could be counted on to skate a regular shift. In fact, he did more than that for his Jyp club team. One of the youngest players on the roster, Piispanen contributed at both ends of the ice, recording 12 points, 10 of which were assists.

Piispanen, a native of Jyvaskyla, Finland, played in 52 games for Jyp, missing time only to participate in the 2005 World Junior Championships, an event where he captained his Finnish squad.

Possessing a wide variety of offensive skills, Piispanen has an incredible set of hands, arguably the best among the Blue Jackets prospect pool. His ability to dangle is top notch, and has embarrassed many defensemen on a regular occasion. In terms of skating, Piispanen is average, although due to his strong stickhandling ability, is able to contain the puck at full flight. The only downfall on Piispanen appears to be his size. While he stands at an impressive 6’3, he weighs only 163lbs, and hasn’t filled out since his draft season two years ago.

17. (NR) Tomas Popperle, G
5th Round, 131st Overall 2005 6’1, 187lbs, 20

After leading the Czech Extraliga in both goals against average and save percentage, 1.58 and .949 respectively, MacLean and the Blue Jackets couldn’t overlook European netminder Tomas Popperle midway through the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

Popperle earned the opportunity to start for Sparta Prague after an injury sidelined 40-year-old netminder Petr Briza, who has started for the club for the previous five seasons. Popperle seized the opportunity, not only putting up exceptional personal statistics, but an impressive 15-9-1 record.

The selection of Popperle immediately bolsters the Blue Jackets goaltending depth. Despite being somewhat of a project, Popperle will undoubtedly takes pressure off the development of not only OHL goaltender Daniel LaCosta but also Syracuse Crunch starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire. In fact, the Blue Jackets have already opted to sign the goaltender, in hopes to bring him over to North America this season to better evaluate his position on the depth chart.

With solid, all-round goaltending skills, including excellent positioning and quick reflexes, Popperle plays a solid yet unspectacular game between the pipes. Playing with more poise as the season wore on, Popperle showed great maturity, certainly one of the reasons why the Blue Jackets opted to select him.

18. (17) Daniel LaCosta, G
3rd Round, 93rd Overall 2004, 6’1, 186lbs, 19

After the selection of Czech goaltender Tomas Popperle, there is significant added pressure on Ontario Hockey League goaltender Daniel LaCosta to develop into the goaltender that the Jackets hoped he could be when they selected him in the third round, 93rd overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

Unable to secure a full-time goaltending gig with the Owen Sound Attack, LaCosta was dealt to the Barrie Colts, where he again platooned with fellow goaltender Francois Thuot. LaCosta did see an improvement in his game, however it was only slightly. After a 2.95 goals against average and a .895 save percentage, LaCosta recorded marks of 2.73 and .911 after the trade.

Thought to possess strong positional play, LaCosta has failed to improve his game despite more experience in the league. Controlling rebounds has been a problem for him, and he also needs to improve his lateral movement and ability to recover after going down to stop shots. Mentally, LaCosta will need to develop significantly, especially considering he should inherit the starting goaltending duties next season for Barrie.

19. (13) Petr Pohl, RW
5th Round, 133rd Overall 2004, 5’11, 185lbs, 19

Gatineau forward Petr Pohl stepped up his game in an increased role with the Olympiques after they lost several key forwards last season. Gone were the club’s top three leading scorers in Maxime Talbot, Jean-Michel Daoust and Guillaume Fournier. With increased ice time and a more important offensive role on the club, Pohl flourished.

Increasing his offensive production by nine points, Pohl finished the season with 59, including 27 goals and 32 assists, both career highs. Playing in just 62 games, Pohl’s point-per-game average jumped from 0.71 last season to 0.95 this season. Pohl has dramatically increased his offensive punch, proving all he needed was the opportunity to score.

Although he lacks the physical sense of most prospects within the Columbus organization, the native of Jaromer, Czech Republic possesses a lot of offensive flair. Solid all around, Pohl has decisive shiftiness and an ability to kick it into another gear while skating with the puck. His shot and passing ability are both above average as well. Perhaps if the skilled European is able to commit himself more physically, he’ll certainly be more difficult for the organization to overlook in the coming year.

20. (16) Trevor Hendrikx, D
9th Round, 283rd Overall 2003, 6’2, 190lbs, 20

7th Round, 201st Overall 2005

Quite possibly no other player in the Blue Jackets organization had a coming out as impressive as Peterborough Petes defenseman Trevor Hendrikx. That’s saying a lot, considering two seasons ago Hendrikx exploded offensively, more than tripling his previous career high. Hendrikx, though, continued his offensive assault on the Ontario Hockey League, again increasing his offensive production dramatically.

After scoring nine points two seasons ago and another 32 last season, Hendrikx registered an impressive 48 points last season, including 15 goals, nearly doubling his previous season’s totals of eight. Even more encouraging could be the fact that Hendrikx toned down his lack of discipline, shaving over half of his penalty minutes from the previous season from 208 minutes to an even 100.

It was extremely important in the development of the Winchester, Ontario native to realize that he’s suddenly become more valuable on the ice than off of it. Once known primarily as a fighter, Hendrikx has developed patience and discipline on the ice. Couple this with strong defensive play and an uncanny development of an offensive game and Hendrikx is certainly paying off, despite costing Columbus two draft picks.

After going unsigned by Columbus, Hendrikx went back into the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, where the team again opted to select him with their last pick in the draft. Columbus had attempted to sign Hendrikx before the deadline, but were unsuccessful. With two more years to do so, Hendrikx is almost certain to become a Blue Jacket, but for now will return to the OHL barring a late contract signing.

Off the list

Russian sniper Sergei Mozyakin who had 23 points in 49 games with CSKA Moscow last season, the same team as Blue Jackets prospect Nikolai Zherdev, is no longer eligible for the list according to Hockey’s Future prospect criteria. He is now 24 and unsigned.

Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.