Tuesday, July 24, 2018

31 Teams in 31 Days - Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets are next.

1. Liam Foudy - London Knights
Caught quite a few people off guard when Columbus took Foudy so early in the first round. But you have to remember just how much this kid improved in the second half. Was one of the highest scoring draft eligibles in the OHL in the second half and his game is perfectly suited for the way that the NHL is played now. His speed is electrifying. But he's also a very capable player with the puck who can keep possession at top speed and make plays. He's not just some high energy player who's value is measured by his ability to disrupt without the puck. In fact, that's probably his weakest area right now and the area requiring the most growth for him to take that next step forward. Increasing that intensity level, becoming a better player below the hash marks, and looking to use that speed to drive the net consistently. But Foudy is a remarkable athlete and it would be foolish to put a cap on what he is capable of. Next year, he'll return to London and continue to receive the big time minutes he saw late this past year. He'll also see an increase in powerplay time. I would expect him to be around the 35/35 mark this year, with a chance to hit 75+ points.

2. Kole Sherwood - Kitchener Rangers
Was a bit surprised when the Blue Jackets sent Sherwood back to the OHL for his overage season. It gave him the chance to play for a contender in Kitchener (after a trade from Flint), and ultimately he was fantastic in the playoffs for the Rangers, leading them in goals with 14 and helping them reach the Western Conference finals. Development wise, I would say it was pretty much a status quo type of year for Sherwood. Not sure if that's really a bad thing though, considering the massive step forward he took last season. At this point, we know what Sherwood brings to the table. Big body who can skate, prolong possession in the offensive end and who possesses a fantastic shot and release. That North/South game could play very well at the pro level with the right linemmates. Keeping up that intensity level without the puck will be key, as he's going to need to be solid in all three zones to really earn the trust of his coaching staff at the next level. Truthfully, Sherwood is one guy who is tough to peg at the next level. The toolbox is solid. I'm not quite sure his hockey sense and puck skill is quite good enough to be a top 6 goal scorer, but it wouldn't surprise me either. He's an underrated prospect and I'm hoping he gets good ice time in the AHL next year and isn't sent to the ECHL. In the AHL, I'd expect him to be a 15/15 guy in his rookie season.

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