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Just how bad is the Blue Jackets prospect system?

August 9, 2018, 10:45 AM ET [14 Comments]
Paul Berthelot
Columbus Blue Jackets Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Well if you believe some of the prospect guru’s out there it’s pretty bad. Steve Kournianos of the Sporting News rated the Blue Jackets system at 28th and Corey Pronman of the Athletic rated it 25th.

Both articles say similar things; the Blue Jackets have a fantastic group of young players playing in the NHL. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are the envy of every team in the league. Once you get passed the NHL there are plenty of leaks in the pipeline.

The Jackets best defensive prospects remain Gabriel Carlsson, Andrew Peeke and Vladislav Gavrikov. Three players who are good at what they do, big, mobile and strong defensively, but are not going to be much more than third pair defencemen at the next level. The Jackets have avoided picking these defencemen in the latest couple of drafts but haven’t found a strong puck mover to replace them at the top of the system.

Upfront the Jackets have some talent in Vitali Abramov, Kirill Marchenko and Alexandre Texier but only Abramov rates as a top 50 NHL prospect and he’s on the lower end of that. The Jackets have found some intriguing players later in the draft, especially from Sweden in Emil Bemstrom, Jonathan Davidsson, and Markus Karlberg. They add depth to the system but aren’t top end prospects. Maxime Fortier is a highly skilled player but it doesn’t say much for how the team has drafted when an undrafted free agent signing is one of the better prospects in the system.

The Jackets strength has to be in net. Elvis Merzlikins is one of the better goalies not yet playing in North America. Daniil Tarasov bounced back nicely after missing a full season and is looking like a legitimate prospect in net. That’s not to mention Veini Vehvilainen who was the best goalie in Finland this past season. If something happens and the Jackets do not have Sergei Bobrovsky on the team in 2019-2020 they have some young talent that looks ready to come in and compete for a spot in the NHL.

What’s really impacted the Blue Jackets farm system has been the first round of the draft. Not having a first rounder at the 2017 draft, making questionable first round picks in Carlsson and Liam Foudy and having Pierre-Luc Dubois, the third overall pick in 2016 make the NHL a year earlier than expected, have all taken their toll on the pipeline. These aren’t all bad things, Dubois in the NHL is obviously quite good, and using that 2017 first round pick to get rid of David Clarkson’s contract wasn’t horrible either. These moves hurt the prospect pool but I don’t think many people are complaining about them.

The Jackets farm system ranks poorly but they have an extremely young NHL team. The farm system will continue to improve as players grow and develop.

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