The Columbus Blue Jackets are facing an uncertain future.
With two of their best players — Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky — slated to become UFAs at the conclusion of the 2018-19 NHL season, the Blue Jackets’ roster could look much different in a year’s time. Despite depth on defence, Columbus’ roster is already relatively thin and would be decimated were both Panarin and Bobrovsky to depart.
Making matters worse for the Blue Jackets is the fact that their farm system is currently amongst the worst in the NHL. With the vast majority of their best prospects having already ascended to the NHL-level, Columbus could face a rough future if their prospect pool is not strengthened soon.
Stanley Cups: None
2017-18 Record: 45-30-7; 97 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Artemi Panarin; 27G, 55A, 82PTS
Farm System Grade: D+
Top 10 Prospects:
- Liam Foudy
- Vitaly Abramov
- Gabriel Carlsson
- Andrew Peeke
- Kole Sherwood
- Jonathan Davidsson
- Kevin Stenlund
- Alexandre Texier
- Calvin Thurkauf
- Sam Vigneault
The State of the Blue Jackets’ Farm System
The Blue Jackets’ window to win a Stanley Cup is closing quickly, and will soon be slammed closed due to a lack of organizational prospect depth.
With the likes of Pierre-Luc Dubois, Sonny Milano, and Zachary Werenski now competing at the NHL-level, Columbus holds few prospects of substantial potential within their farm system. Amplifying matters is the fact the Blue Jackets have drafted somewhat poorly in the past few years outside of the first round.
The first round of the annual NHL Draft is where Columbus has landed the vast majority of their remaining prospects. And, perhaps no first round prospect of the team is more promising than Liam Foudy — the 18th overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft and star of the OHL’s London Knights.
The defining characteristic of Foudy’s game is undoubtedly his raw athleticism. Seemingly strong, faster, and more agile than any other player on the ice, Foudy is a tireless attacker whose offensive game continues to improve. Now, although he shouldn’t be considered as an elite offensive player just yet, Foudy’s shot and playmaking continue to improve and will continue to do so this coming season with the Knights.
Outside of Foudy, the Blue Jackets boast Vitaly Abramov and Gabriel Carlsson as their top prospects.
In Abramov, Columbus owns a dynamic offensive player who totalled 104 points in just 56 QMJHL games played last season — an output which stood as the league’s second-greatest total in 2017-18. Although he’ll likely need considerable time to develop at the AHL-level, Abramov could play a starring role with the Blue Jackets in the distant future.
Then, there is Carlsson. A towering defender who appeared in 14 games for Columbus last season, Carlsson is a rangy player who plays a stay-at-home style of game. Known for his long reach and active stick, Carlsson can dismantle play devised by his opposition before transitioning the puck to this teammates.
Unfortunately, outside of these three youngsters, the Blue Jackets’ farm system is woefully thin. Although a slew of others led by Kole Sherwood certainly have NHL potential, none of which will play a meaningful role for Columbus in the coming years — a reality which will likely compromise the short-term sustainability of the franchise.
One Blue Jackets Prospect to Watch
Considering the fact that the Blue Jackets’ list of prospects worth watching is rather short, let’s take a closer look at the team’s top young asset.
In Foudy, Columbus boasts a natural athlete whose physical abilities and innate hockey talents could combine to make him a star player at the NHL-level. Boasting blazing speed, agility, and a nose for the net, Foudy’s growing offensive game should allow him to seize a role with the Blue Jackets in the near future.
In his most recent campaign with the Knights, Foudy totalled 24 goals and 40 points in 65 regular season contests. However, the bulk of Foudy’s offence came late in the season when it mattered the most, as the native of Toronto, Ontario blasted home 33 points in his final 30 games played as Foudy rolled towards the 2018 NHL Draft.
Propelled by an increase in ice time last season, Foudy should achieve new offensive highs in 2018-19 given his increasing role of importance within London’s roster. Sure to see ample ice time on the power play as well as skate on his team’s first line, Foudy stands poised for a breakout season and one which will further cement his standing as an elite NHL prospect.