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Top 25 Under 25 Midseason Check-In: The Kids

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How are the players in juniors and overseas looking this year?

NHL: NHL Draft Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

In our next installment, let’s check in with the players who might be a bit more off the radar this season.

#23 Vitali Abramov

Stats: 50 GP, 35G, 39A, 74P, 64PIM

Jeff said: Abramov is almost certainly headed for another year in Gatineau, giving him some time to fill out, hone the defensive part of the game, and continue to create havoc for opposing netminders.

This year: Abramov has certainly created havoc for opposing netminders in Gatineau this year, nearly matching his goal scoring output from last season in 13 fewer games. He has, however, nearly doubled the amount of penalty minutes he has taken this season. One would like to see him cut that number down going forward, but it’s not the end of the world.

Stock: Abramov’s stock continues to rise. He signed his entry level contract in December, and it is expected that he will move to the AHL next season to continue to hone his game. With the success of another diminutive winger in the organization, the future appears to be bright for Abramov.

#22 Gabriel Carlsson

Stats: 29GP, 2G, 2A, 4P, 6PIM

PD said: For the upcoming season, he is slated to return to Linköping HC. Before coming to North America, Carlsson knows he will need to add weight, strength, and speed. He won’t be a consideration for the Jackets this season, but hopefully he will be ready to contribute in 2017 or 2018.

This year: Carlsson has improved this season, and looked excellent in his World Juniors performances. He showed a 70% Corsi for the tournament, and demonstrated his use of his size.

Stock: Carlsson’s skating still needs work, and he has lots of room to improve before he is NHL ready. It’s uncertain if he will come to North America next season or wait another year, but in either case, he is still several seasons away from competing for an NHL roster spot.

#21 Oscar Dansk

Stats: 23GP, 2.95GAA, .904SV%

Matt said: For now, it's safe to say that Dansk's future is a cloudy one, and it's certainly possible he may become part of the long history of second round busts for the Blue Jackets.

This year: Dansk has regressed this season from his less-than-stellar numbers in 2015-16. He is allowing more goals, and saving fewer shots.

Stock: Dansk’s stock can only be described as trending downward. Matt’s prediction looks to be prophetic, as Dansk continues to slip and get passed in the organization’s depth chart, he may end up being the latest second round bust for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Maybe giving up a second rounder for Torts isn’t the worst thing in the world after all.

#20 Elvis Merzlikins

Stats: 38GP, 3.04GAA, .912SV%

Mike said: It’ll be a few years before we’ll see him in a CBJ sweater, as he’s signed with Lugano until the end of the 2018-2019 season. His contract does not have an NHL out-clause. The Jackets will retain his rights however, as he’s currently on their suspended list, a nasty term that is only in place because the NHL doesn’t have a direct transfer agreement with the Swiss league.

This year: While allowing a greater number of goals this season, Merzlikins has been the bedrock for his team. It also should be noted that, in his team’s tournament starts, he is allowing a full goal per game fewer, and saving 94% of the shots he sees. So, while not having a stellar season, he has shown flashes that his game can improve.

Stock: Merzlikins’ stock is still trending in the right direction, though he has a long way to go. Merzlikins is under contract for the next two years in the Swiss league, and so he will have time to continue to work on his game and the nuances of goaltending before making the journey to North America.

#9 Pierre-Luc Dubois

Stats: 32GP, 18G, 21A, 39P, 48PIM

Jeff said: Dubois will return to the QMJHL this season, where his focus will be on developing and learning the nuances of the center position, and cutting down on his poor habit of taking too many penalties. He believes he can be a two-way forward, a la Jamie Benn. Here’s hoping he can do it.

This year: Dubois’ season has been a disappointment. There’s no other way around it. In 20 games with Cape Breton, Dubois registered 6-12-18. He had worse teammates this year, but it is disappointing that the third overall pick couldn’t raise his gameplay to even a point per game pace in the Q. Upon being traded to Blainville, Dubois has registered 12-9-21 in 12 games, which is more along the lines of what one would hope to see from last year’s top pick.

Stock: Dubois’ stock is static right now – it hasn’t trended up or down. If Dubois requires talent around him to showcase his own, that is a worrying sign. However, the Blue Jackets have enough forward talent available and in the pipeline to hopefully offset this whenever he makes his NHL debut. I expect him to spend next season in the AHL while he continues to hone his game.