Now that the season is all but over for the Union Blue, expect management to use the final dozen games to evaluate some of the prospects in the system. Here’s a look at some of the familiar and not-so familiar faces who may make their way into the Jackets lineup before the close of the regular season.
Chad Kolarik: Does the diminutive winger get a call-up to the big club before the season is over? Kolarik has been putting up big AHL numbers over the past two seasons after a standout career under Red Berenson at the University of Michigan. In seven games with Syracuse Kolarik is 5-3-8 after being acquired from Phoenix in the swap for Alexander Picard. Kolarik has great speed and good hands and appears to have put in enough work to at least merit a look before the season ends.
Nikita Filatov: While logic suggests that the talented Russian winger should finish out the NHL season in Columbus, Blue Jackets fans and management may have to wait until training camp to get a second look at the organization’s top prospect. The Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline has reported “no chance” of a return before 2010-2011.
Maksim Mayorov: The other enigmatic Russian winger in the CBJ system, Mayorov’s brief stint with the Jackets last week was nothing to write home about. After being benched vs. Atlanta by Coach Claude Noel for defensive lapses, Mayorov saw just over 20 minutes in three games with the Jackets. Mayorov, who was originally projected as a top 15-25 pick in 2007, has yet to put up consistent offensive numbers in North America. He still may get a couple more opportunities with the Union Blue before the season ends as the club tries to evaluate prospects.
Tomas Kana: Kana may be a long shot but don’t be too surprised if he gets recalled for a game or two. The 22-year-old Czech pivot has put up decent numbers on a poor Syracuse Crunch team and is tied for the team lead with a +2 rating. Kana is very strong in his own end and is one of the key penalty killers for the Crunch. His offense still needs polishing but he’s tied for second on the team with 6 power play goals.
John Moore: The club has indicated that they would like Moore to spend the next season in the AHL, but that does not mean the 2009 21st overall pick won’t get a look at the end of the season. Moore can get 10 NHL games under his belt before the first year of his entry-level contract kicks in. Moore’s Kitchener Rangers begin their first round series with the Saginaw Spirit Friday, but an early playoff exit could mean Moore in the Union Blue sweater this season.
Nick Holden: It’s been a tough season for Nick Holden. Tapped as one of the favorites for the 7th defenseman spot last summer, Holden’s bout with mono kept him out of action for most of training camp. He had a very rough start in Syracuse but has managed to salvage his season putting up a respectable 5-15-20 over 56 games. Holden has ideal NHL size at 6’4” and plays a solid two-way game. He could certainly benefit from some NHL minutes but he may still be a season or two away from really breaking into the lineup.