While most of the Blue Jackets’ prospects are playing at the professional level, Columbus currently has six players in the CHL. Of those six players, four were drafted in the 2012 draft and the other two in 2011. Leading the pack is former second overall pick Ryan Murray, who recently underwent surgery on his left shoulder and will be missing the remainder of the season. Oscar Dansk is the player to look out for because, much like fellow prospect Lukas Sedlak, the European netminder has come to North America to refine his skills before taking a shot at the professional level.
Ryan Murray, D, Everett Silvertips
Acquired: 1st round (2nd overall) in 2012
The Columbus Blue Jackets drafted Ryan Murray second overall because he was the most NHL ready player in the draft. The 6’0 defender returned to Everett as captain for the second straight year, but very likely could have made the Blue Jackets roster if not for the NHL lockout.
On November 16th, Murray’s left shoulder popped out of its joint after a collision with Logan Nelson of the Victoria Royals. The hit resulted in a surgery to repair a torn labrum in the second overall pick’s left shoulder that will force him to miss the remainder of the season. The 19-year-old’s shoulder has been bothering him since last season, so it could be something that follows the defender through his career.
Prior to the injury, the Saskatoon product had 17 points in 23 games. His 15 assists have shown his keen puck moving ability as well as his strong hockey intelligence with or without the puck. Murray’s defensive decision making had noticeably improved and he had an even plus/minus playing on Everett’s top line.
Murray was set to play in the World Junior Championships for Canada’s U20 team, but will be forced to bypass the tournament after bringing home a bronze medal last January.
Oscar Dansk, G, Erie Otters
Acquired: 2nd round (31st overall) in 2012
Many scouts projected Oscar Dansk as a first round talent, so it was no surprise that the Blue Jackets picked him 31st overall. The Swedish prospect manned the net in two games with the Sweden U20 this year and posted a 1.35 goals against average.
After developing his ability in Sweden his entire life, the 18-year-old came to North America after being drafted 3rd overall in the CHL import draft by the Erie Otters. He struggled early in the season and posted the worst save percentage in the OHL in early November. Part of his lack of success can be blamed on the Otters’ lackluster defense, who allowed 54 shots during a September 21st contest against the London Knights.
Dansk has a 3.64 goals against average in 25 junior games and, as of late, has improved his save percentage to just over .900. Even with the slight improvements, the hybrid keeper is yet to post a shutout on the year.
The Otters have the third worst record in the OHL and sit at the bottom of the Midwest Division. Head coach Robbie Ftorek was replaced by Kris Knoblauch after being relieved of his duty on November 29th.
Josh Anderson, RW, London Knights
Acquired: 4th round (95th overall) in 2012
The London Knights are alone at the top of the Midwest Division and lead the entire OHL with 48 points. The Knights have a significant amount of depth and Anderson has flourished in his role as a second liner with 22 points in 30 games (8 goals and 14 assists). His point total leaves him ranked fifth on the OHL’s top team.
The 18-year-old scored a season high two goals in a 5-3 victory over the Sarnia Sting and continues to have an impact on the power play. Playing on a quality team with the likes of Seth Griffith (BOS), the OHL’s second leading scorer, able to provide primary offense has put Anderson in a comfortable position to develop into a sound power forward.
Anderson is often referred to as a diamond in the rough after he was passed up in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft and acquired in 2011 by London as a free agent. The late boomer made an immediate impact with five goals in his first three games playing on a line with highly touted center Max Domi and is off to another quick start to this year.
Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa Generals
Acquired: 2nd round (37th overall) in 2011
Boone Jenner’s total of 27 goals leads the OHL and is a huge reason why the Generals are near the top of East Division. The 19-year-old was set to try his luck at making the Blue Jackets roster this season, but in light of the NHL stoppage, returned to Oshawa and was named captain for the second consecutive season.
The center’s ability to finish has earned him 46 points in 30 games this year and is a crucial factor of why he will be taking part in the World Junior Championships for Canada’s U20 team. He has continued to play a two-way game and his +13 rating shows how defensively sound the Ontario product has become.
Gianluca Curcuruto, D, Plymouth Whalers
Acquired: 7th round (182nd overall) in 2012
Gianluca Curcuruto’s stock plummeted since he was picked 14th overall by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft. The Toronto product did not live up to expectations in his first two seasons with the Greyhounds and was traded over the summer to Plymouth in exchange for Mitchell Dempsey and Dylan Mascarin.
Plymouth has given the 18-year-old a chance to rejuvenate his career and Curcuruto has taken advantage. The six-foot defender has already recorded 11 points (10 assists) through 28 games this season in his rebound season. In his own zone, Curcuruto has simplified his game and looked much more comfortable playing pucks along the board as well as knowing where to be on the ice when he does not have the puck.
Lukas Sedlak, C, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Acquired: 6th round (158th overall) in 2011
The Sagueneens are fourth in the East Division and have been flirting with a .500 record all year. Sedlak is off to an average start to year, showing his well balanced offensive game with 11 goals and 12 assists through 31 games. Even when he played in the Czech Republic, people referred to the 6’0 center as playing an American style, which made it no surprise that his gritty game smoothly transferred to the CHL.
He is going to continue playing on the Czech U20 team and already has two points through three international games. The real test for the two-way forward will be the WJC, which held him pointless in six games last year.