2011 CBJ Traverse City Roster Review-Forwards
Well its beginning to look a lot like hockey season with the Blue Jackets and one of the on ice crew posting pictures of the ice going in. Its only 11 days until the Traverse City Prospects Tournament gets under way at the Center Ice Arena in Traverse City, Michigan. For the second year in a row(third for my Dad) ill be heading up to watch the tournament and autograph hound with the best of them. Now last year the Jackets sent a roster of mainly of free agent invitees with only 13 of the 29 being CBJ prospects and we see how that went(0-4-0 outscored 23-8). This year is different the Jackets are bringing only 6 players classified as an Invite on the roster and 4 of those 6 are either signed by the Springfield Falcons(AHL) or the Chicago Express(ECHL). Last year I did roster previews (my guess at who would be there) and and a overview like this one and just as I was about to right my preview the team went and released its roster so without further ado lets meet this years team.
The Jackets only scored 8 goals total in last years tournament, Cam Atkinson almost did that just in the month of November last season scoring 7. Going off the rosters I’ve seen (Buffalo hasn’t released theirs and the Wild didn’t put weights and heights) Atkinson is the smallest player in the tournament, but if you were at the rookie camp scrimmage you know what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and skill. Atkinson plays in all situations scoring 22 powerplay goals and 11 shorthanded goals in his three years at BC. I,m excited to see what Atkinson can do if teamed up with Ryan Johansen in Traverse City. This will be Michael Chaput first time putting on a official Blue Jackets jersey (non practice I mean). Chaput was acquired at last year’s trade deadline for Tom Sestito, Michael is one of the best in the QMJHL in winning faceoffs winning the 8th most last year (the Q does it by faceoff wins not percentage like the NHL, Chaput had the 4th best percentage of the top 10). Chaput scored 59 points(25-34-59) in 62 games last year then adding 20 points in 13 playoff games. Chaput’s team the Lewiston MAINEiacs folded after last season, meaning Chaput this year will suit up for the Shawinigan Cataractes who will host the 2012 Memorial Cup meaning they’ll get a automatic bid. I see Chaput splitting time with Boone Jenner as the team’s second line center in Traverse City. Chaput is a skill guy but it appears he can take care of himself in a fight (I tried finding a goal but all I could find were fight videos) Oliver Gabriel is one of 13 players making a return trip to Traverse City and he probably has better memories than his teammates because it was this tournament along with his play in the pre-season that led to the Blue Jackets signing him to a contract. Gabriel scored a goal and assist in last year’s tournament and picking up 7 penalty minutes playing in all four games. Gabriel has been hit by the injury bug the last two seasons suffering a ruptered spleen in 2009 and last year had to have season ending shoulder surgery scoring a career high 32 points, no offense to Oliver but I see him in the bottom 6.
Boone Jenner is one of only two 2011 draft picks playing for the Jackets in Traverse City. Jenner last week was announced as the captain for his junior team the Oshawa Generals who is celebrating its 75th anniversary this season. Jenner scored 66 points (25-41-66) in 63 games last year and is described as a player that will go through a wall for his team. Ryan Johansen is another returning player after tying for the team lead in assists last year scoring a goal and adding two assists playing in three of thr four games last year. Johansen led the entire Blue Jackets organization in scoring last with 92 points(40-52-92) in 63 games. Johansen is one of three forwards (Atkinson, Kubalik) but the one with the best chance of making the Blue Jackets out of camp. Tyler Johnson is one of the invites I mentioned earlier that has been signed by the Chicago Express after finishing fourth on the Colorado College Tigers in scoring leading them in goal scoring with 20. Johnson scored 82 points in 154 games at CC serving as a assistant captain last year. Johnson is one of only four players under 6’0 on the roster, he scored 82 points in 154 games at Colorado College. Patrick Kennedy was a teammate of Blue Jackets prospect Sean Collins at Cornell last year serving as a co-captain. Kennedy scored 49 points in 129 games with the Big Red, now as far as I can tell Kennedy hasn’t been signed by any of the three teams and is just getting a look at.
Tomas Kubalik is one of two players on the Jackets roster to play in the NHL last year and the only one to score a point. This is a big departure from last year as the Jackets roster only had 2 players that had played in the AHL and that was only a whopping four games. Kubalik led the Falcons in scoring last year scoring 53 points (24-29-53) in 76 games also adding 2 assists in 4 games with the Jackets. Awhile back I threw out on twitter about a Kubalik-Johansen-Atkinson line, now either Cam or Tomas would have to switch wings but with Kubalik in front of the net and Johansen feeding Atkinson to use that laser of a shot he has it could have potential. This will be Kubalik’s third trip to Traverse City scoring 3 goals and 2 assists with 16 penalty minutes in 8 games the most among players on the roster. Kyle Ostrow is another Express making the trip up to Traverse City. Ostrow was captain of the Denver Pioneers last season. Ostrow scored 105 points in 158 games with the Pioneers. Ostrow is one of only four players under six feet tall on the Jackets Traverse City team with no defenseman being under 6’1″. Ostrow and Kennedy are just listed as forwards so its hard to guess where they fit in the team’s lineup. Adam Payerl is the only other player that’s just an invite not signed by any of the teams. Payerl appears to be brought in to serve as a tough guy for the team, his 79 penalty minutes were third on his team and third among players on the team. Lukas Sedlak is the other 2011 draft pick in camp, Sedlak was selected by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL in the CHL Import Draft this summer also. Sedlak scored 27 points (14-13-27) in 47 Czech U-20 games last year with 65 . Sedlak served as the captain for the Czech Republic team at the 2011 U-18 Championships. I asked a writer in Chicoutimi and he said Sedlak has been playing on the Sag’s top line with Chicoutimi’s top two scorers from last year Guillaume Asselin (35-47-82) and the Q’s top rookie last season Charles Hudon (23-37-60).
It was a down year for Dalton Smith dropping from 42 points to 27 this season despite playing two more games. Smith played in all four games in last years tournament earning a assist and 11 penalty minutes. Smith will be the heavy hitter on this team his 124 penalty minutes were just five less than the previous year. Hopefully Smith can bounce back since the Jackets signed him to an entry level contract last month but he’s in the same boat as Johansen and its more than likely it’ll be back to the Canadian Capital to play with the 67′s. Smith also the subject for a small documentary you can watch here. Petr Straka the team’s other second round pick from last year’s draft and like Smith he had a down year dropping from 54 to 33. Now unlike Smith I can explain Straka’s reason for the drop in points he played in 21 less games missing time because of the Traverse City tournament/Blue Jackets Training Camp, playing in the World Juniors and suffering two injuries which forced him to miss 15 games. So hopefully Straka can bounce back and he got off to a great start in the Oceanic’s first preseason game he scored four points scoring two goals and two assists. Last but not least is Mike Thomas, Thomas is signed by the Springfield Falcons after a long and at the end very successful career with the Saint John Sea Dogs. Thomas is the Sea Dog’s all time leader in games played (288) and penalty minutes (470), Thomas served as the Captain for the Memorial Cup Champions and is a teammate of Jackets goalie prospect Mathieu Corbeil who is coached by ex CBJ coach Gerard Gallant. I asked a blogger that covers the Q he described Thomas as this “He’s Fierce. Tough as nails, hard hitter, hard worker. Energy line type guy.” Another blogger I’ve talked to ever since Corbeil got traded to Saint John said this about Mike “Captain’ enforcer, fan fav, local guy, hard worker, could always lay some big hits.” so enjoy Falcon fans. Plus if the Falcons go deep in the playoffs he kinda starts to look like a former Jacket.
There you have the forwards for the Blue Jackets team up in Traverse City, Ill get to work on the defenseman and goalies later this week. As I said at the start i’ll be up there live tweeting games like I did last year, I’ll try to tweet stuff only from @CBJprospects but I might forget so may wanna follow @en4cer45 in case I forget to switch accounts/apps.