The Columbus Blue Jackets did not add a bunch of talent at the 2019 Entry Draft. With only three draft selections, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen was able to make the best of it.
Kekalainen added Eric Hjorth (RHD, Sarnia Sting), Dmitri Voronkov (LW/C, AK Bars Kazan) and Tyler Angle (C, Windsor Spitfires) to his farm system. Let’s see how they measure up to the rest of the system.
2019-20 Top 10 Columbus Blue Jackets Prospects
1. Liam Foudy, C, London Knights (OHL)
HT/WT: 6-1/181 lbs
Drafted: 18th overall in the 2018 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Foudy is easily the best prospect in the Columbus Blue Jackets system. He’s a great play-making centreman. This season, Foudy has recorded 13 goals and 13 assists in 20 games for the London Knights. In addition, he is representing Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championships. So far, he has recorded two points in three games at the WJC.
In terms of Foudy’s playing style, he reminds me of a poor man’s Connor McDavid. He’s not anywhere close to McDavid’s talent level, but he loves carrying the puck from zone to zone. He’s got great stick-handling and he tends to always find open spots to capitalize. He’s a scoring threat in high traffic and his passing is NHL ready.
2. Alexandre Texier, C/LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL)
HT/WT: 6-0/194 lbs
Drafted: 45th overall in the 2017 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
We haven’t seen too many French nationals become stars in the NHL, but Texier has the skill-set to become one of the best French citizens to play professionally in North America.
Texier played in the Liiga for KalPa and was easily one of the best forwards in the Liiga. His hands are phenomenal. Texier can draw his opponents off with his stick-handling. He’s also got a laser of a shot and loves to park himself in front of the opposing goaltender to try to sneak in a rebound goal.
Last season, he played in 55 games for KalPa. He recorded 14 goals and 27 assists. Once KalPa’s season was done, he came to North America and played for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Cleveland Monsters. He played in 8 playoff games for the Blue Jackets and collected 3 points.
This season, Texier has found a spot at the NHL level. In 35 games with Columbus, he has recorded six goals and seven assists. At the moment, he is playing on the third line with Alexander Wennberg and Eric Robinson. If Texier starts to produce higher point totals, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella could decide to move him up in the lineup.
3. Emil Bemström, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL)
HT/WT: 5-10/181 lbs
Drafted: 117th overall in the 2017 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Emil Bemström is a Swedish sniper. But, he’s not your usual sniper. He can snipe from close range over and over. He’s a natural born goal scorer and looks a lot like former Vancouver Canucks forward Markus Naslund.
Last season, Bemström played in 47 games for Djurgårdens IF. He recorded 23 goals and 12 assists. His goal totals were the highest in SHL and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon.
Given his outstanding performance in the SHL last season, the Blue Jackets took notice and decided to have him play in the NHL this season. In 28 games played in Columbus, he has managed to register three goals and six assists.
4. Veini Vehviläinen, G, Cleveland Monsters (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-1/183 lbs
Drafted: 173rd overall in the 2018 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
While he’s a tad undersized, he was one of the best goaltenders in the Liiga last season. He appeared in 38 games and recorded a 1.58 GAA and a .933 SV%. If you look at his stats, he’s become much better in net over the past few seasons. His GAA keeps going down and his SV% keeps rising.
Given his great play in the Liiga, the Blue Jackets decided to have him play in the AHL this season with the Cleveland Monsters. In 14 appearances with the Monsters, he owns a 2.08 GAA and a .920 SV%.
Vehviläinen is a hybrid goaltender and is a beast when he’s down on his knees. The only thing that he needs to work on is rebounds. Vehviläinen tends to give up a lot of rebounds off of his chest. He needs to work on his reflexes and ensure that he can get his glove in position to pocket the puck when it ricochets off his chest.
5. Daniil Tarasov, G, Ässät (Liiga)
HT/WT: 6-5/185 lbs
Drafted: 86th overall in the 2017 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Tarasov has been outstanding in Russia. He recently earned an entry-level contract but due to the amount of goaltender depth that the Blue Jackets have, they decided to loan him to Ässät (Liiga) for the season.
Tarasov is coming off an impressive season with the Toros Neftekamsk. He appeared in 25 games and owned a 1.71 GAA and a .928 SV%. He also played in 17 playoff games and was unbeatable. He posted a 1.87 GAA and a .930 SV% in the playoffs.
This season, Tarasov has fared quite well in the Liiga. After 22 appearances in net, the Novokuznetsk, Russia native has mustered up a 2.38 GAA and a .909 SV%.
Tarasov is a beast in net, but he needs to gain some muscle. At 185 lbs, he’s a bit under-sized given his height. He needs to bulk up next season in Finland.
6. Andrew Peeke, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL), Cleveland Monsters (AHL)
HT/WT: 6-3/198 lbs
Drafted: 34th overall in the 2016 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
The Parkland, Florida native is a great two-way defenseman. The former University of Notre Dame captain is a great stretch passer, a solid shot from the point and has a physical side to his game. He’s a well-rounded defenseman and looks like a carbon copy of Dion Phaneuf.
Last season, he played in 40 games and tallied 3 goals and 21 assists. Prior to his three seasons for Notre Dame, he played in the USHL for the Green Bay Gamblers and proved to be an absolute warrior for the Gamblers. In his 2015-16 campaign with the Gamblers, Peeke recorded 4 goals and 26 assists in 56 games.
This season, Peeke has split his time between the AHL and the NHL. Peeke has only managed to record one point throughout his seven games in the NHL this season. But, he has fared much better in the AHL. In 21 games with the Monsters, he has tallied five goals and seven assists.
7. Kirill Marchenko, RW, SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
HT/WT: 6-2/181 lbs
Drafted: 49th overall in the 2018 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Marchenko is a crafty right winger. He’s always finding space and creating scoring chances. At the WJC-18, he truly showed to the world that he’s an unstoppable force. He drove past defenders, created goals off of wrap-around assists and showed off his lethal wrist shot.
Last season, Marchenko played in the MHL, VHL and KHL. He played one game in the KHL for SKA St. Petersburg, 23 games in the VHL for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg, 15 games for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL) and 5 games for SKA-Varyagi im. Morozova (MHL). He had the most success during his time in the MHL. In 20 games in the MHL, he tallied 8 goals and 15 assists. That’s pretty impressive since Russian hockey tends to lower scoring compared to leagues in North America.
This season, Marchenko has split his time between the KHL and the VHL. He has appeared in 15 games in the KHL and has recorded six points (three goals and three assists). In 14 games in the VHL, the Barnaul, Russia native has tallied 12 points (nine goals and three assists). In addition to his performance in the VHL and KHL, he is playing for the Russians at the World Juniors in the Czech Republic. At the moment, Marchenko has appeared in three World Junior games and has recorded one assist.
8. Eric Hjorth, RHD, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
HT/WT: 6-3/187 lbs
Drafted: 104th overall in the 2019 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
In Hjorth’s first season in North America, the Linköping, Sweden native has put together an outstanding season for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. In 35 games for the Sting, he has tallied nine goals and 13 assists. It is safe to say that his transition from the SuperElit to the CHL has gone along swimmingly.
In terms of Hjorth’s playing style, he is a strong skater, but his offensive firepower was fairly limited in Sweden. Hjorth seems to have evolved his offensive game. Perhaps the smaller ice surface has paved the way for his offensive surge, or maybe playing alongside Jamieson Rees and Jacob Perreault has helped bolster his numbers.
9. Trey Fix-Wolansky, RW, Cleveland Monsters (AHL)
HT/WT: 5-7/187 lbs
Drafted: 204th overall in the 2018 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Trey Fix-Wolansky seems to be getting better every single season in the WHL. But, that is not a surprise for over-agers in the CHL. Last season, he appeared in 65 games and tallied 37 goals and 65 assists. The season prior, he tallied 89 points in 71 games. In his 2016-17 campaign, he tallied 54 points in 70 games.
Unfortunately, his transition to the AHL has been a rough one. In 12 games with the Monsters, he has only recorded two points.
Trey Fix-Wolansky is very similar to New York Islanders forward Jordan Eberle. He’s got great puck-handling skills and can fire a wrist shot like nobody’s business. Fix-Wolansky can pick his corners very well. He’s also exceptional at spinning around his opposition. He’s all-around a solid winger.
10. Dmitri Voronkov, LW/C, AK Bars Kazan (KHL)
HT/WT: 6-4/192 lbs
Drafted: 114th overall in the 2019 draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets
Voronkov has suited up in 16 games for the AK Bars Kazan (KHL) this season. He is on pace to complete his first full season in the KHL. Prior to his season, he has only played in three KHL games. In his 16 games so far, Voronkov has mustered up four points (one goal and three assists). In addition, he is playing alongside Kirill Marchenko at the World Juniors and has tallied two assists so far.
Voronkov has a huge frame and can be very physical across the ice. In fact, in his first World Juniors appearance at this year’s tournament in the Czech Republic, he laid a heavy open ice hit on Boston Bruins Jakub Lauko. In addition, Voronkov has fared pretty well on the power play and had a sweet pass on the rush that helped key up a Nikita Alexandrov goal.