32 for 32: The Blue Jackets’ top five prospects

NHL.com offers in-depth analysis of each of the 32 teams between August 8 and September 8. Today’s top five Columbus Blue Jackets prospects, according to NHL.com.

32 IN 32 BLUE JACKETS : Season preview | Three issues to watch | Analysis for poolers

1. Kent JohnsonHAS

How was it acquired: Drafted fifth overall in 2021
Last season: Columbus (NHL): 9 GMs, 0-3-3; Michigan (NCAA): 32 GM, 8-29-37

Johnson has had a big season for a 19-year-old. He played in the NCAA, but also with Canada at the World Junior Championship, the Olympics and the World Hockey Championship, in addition to making his debut in the NHL.

His short stint with the Blue Jackets – after completing his second season at the University of Michigan – showed that Johnson (6-foot-1, 167) is a skilled passer who knows how to create scoring chances from nothing.

He will now have to gain mass in order to resist the game of the NHL, but he will certainly get his chance during training camp, especially since he has the advantage of being able to play at center and on the wing.

Video: CBJ@SJS: Roslovic scores, 1st point for Johnson

« I’m in the gym a lot, working on my strength and my explosion, » Johnson said at Blue Jackets development camp in July. “I’m trying to improve my one-timers. »

Expected arrival in the NHL: This season

2. Kirill Marchenko, A

How was it acquired: Drafted 49th in 2018
Last season: St. Petersburg (KHL): 39 MJ, 12-8-20; SKA-Neva (VHL): 2 MJ, 1-2-3

Marchenko (6-foot-3, 187 pounds) has been waiting to make the jump to North America, now 22 years old. He has spent the last four seasons in Russia, mostly in the KHL.

Marchenko, who can play on both wings, is able to speak English which should help him in his first season on the other side of the Atlantic.

« It’s a great opportunity for him to play in the best league in the world, » said Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. We’re glad he’s here, and we’re going to take it one step at a time. He will be a good addition for us. »

Expected arrival in the NHL: This season

3. David Jiricek, D

How was it acquired: Drafted sixth overall in 2022
Last season: HC Plzen (Czechia): 29 MJ, 5-6-11

Expectations are high for the 18-year-old defender, who could eventually pair up with Zach Werensky. Its potential is not in doubt. Jiricek (6-foot-3, 189 lbs) suffered a knee injury in December during the World Junior Championship, but was able to compete at the World Championship in May as well as the resumed World Junior Championship , which was moved to August after it was canceled in December.

« It’s pretty much unheard of what he was able to do at his age in the Czech league, » Kekalainen said. And when he played against men at the World Championship, he was good. »

If Jiricek doesn’t return to HC Plzen, he could start the American Hockey League season with the Cleveland Monsters or the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs. However, he is not very far from becoming a regular on the Blue Jackets blue line.

Expected arrival in the NHL: 2023-24

4. Denton Mateychuk, D

How was it acquired: Drafted 12th overall in 2022
Last season: Moose Jaw (WHL): 65 MJ, 13-51-64

Mateychuk (5-foot-11, 188) is a perfect fit for the Blue Jackets’ system, which requires the defenseman to be active in the offensive zone, and he’s a great skater who draws inspiration from Kris Letang, Charlie McAvoy and Hold Makar as role models for his game.

There will be many questions about his size, but he was just drafted on July 7, five days before his 18th birthday. So he has time to gain weight with the Moose Jaw Warriors.

« Some people might see him as a little defender, but we don’t, » Kekalainen said. He’s got a good build, he’s strong, he’s competitive and he was dominant in the games I watched. »

Expected arrival in the NHL: 2024-25

5. Corson Ceulemans, D

How was it acquired: Drafted 25th overall in 2021
Last season: Wisconsin (NCAA): 34 GM, 7-15-22

The 19-year-old guard will be back with the University of Wisconsin Badgers for a second season, but thanks to his physique (6-foot-2, 198 pounds), he’s fast approaching the NHL. His good shooting allowed him to climb to first place in assists and points for the Badgers, while facing the best opposing line.

« We’ve seen a lot of growth in his game and we’re looking forward to bringing him into the organization, » said head coach Brad Larsen.

Expected arrival in the NHL: 2023-24

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