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In the System: Mid-season prospect update

Checking in on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospects.

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Czechia v Canada: Preliminary Round Group A - 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets have reached the halfway point of the 2021-2022 season. With the losses piling up recently, many have turned their heads to the future. There’s plenty of youth and future currently on the ice for the Blue Jackets, but there’s also some talent playing elsewhere. Let’s take a look at how some prospects are performing halfway through their seasons.

Scott Wheeler of The Athletic is in the middle of his 2022 NHL prospect pool rankings. The Blue Jackets will likely be high on his list and you can check out what he thinks of the Columbus pool when he gets there.

Kent Johnson (C) - University of Michigan - 23GP 6-24-30

The Jackets’ first pick in the 2021 draft has already surpassed his point total from last season. He leads the Wolverines in assists and would likely lead in points if not for playing fewer games than both Matty Beniers (Kraken) and Brendan Brisson (Golden Knights).

Johnson will be heading to China to join Team Canada at the Olympics. Unfortunately, Johnson is listed as an alternate and would need someone in front of him to drop out or suffer an injury for him to see any games.

This kid is silky smooth. Having watched Trevor Zegras do what he’s been doing in Anaheim, I can’t wait for Johnson to bring that level of skill to Columbus.

Kirill Marchenko (RW/LW) - SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) - 39GP 12-8-20

Marchenko has seen diminished ice time, scratches, and even got sent down to Russia’s junior league this season. Don’t let that get you down, it likely has nothing to do with his on-ice performance. Kirill will be in good shape to contribute in Columbus next season.

Corson Ceulemans (D) - University of Wisconsin - 23GP 5-12-17

Jarmo’s third and final first round pick in the 2021 draft is having a great first year in the NCAA. The chances of landing an NHLer in the second half of the first round drops significantly over the first half. Ceulemans is already looking like a solid pick.

Corson was named the Hockey Commissioners Association’s national rookie of the month for December.

Tyler Angle (LW) - Cleveland Monsters - 33GP 4-15-19

Angle’s production has fallen off from his point per game pace from last season. That could, however, be a linked to the team’s struggles as a whole. Angle could still see time in Columbus this season if injuries require a call up from Cleveland.

The winger was in the news recently after he scored a “Michigan” goal against the Griffins.

James Malatesta (LW) - Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) - 30GP 10-13-23

The wrecking ball that is James Malatesta is playing at about the same place he’s played at over the course of the last two seasons in the Q. I believe he has bottom six NHL potential based on how hard he works, his speed, and the fact that he must be a nightmare on the PK and on the forecheck.

Samuel Knazko (D) - Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) - 11GP 1-4-5

The Slovakian defenseman made the jump to North America shortly before World Juniors. For the second year in a row, he captained the Slovakian team. His scoring line in just eleven short games in the WHL is encouraging — it’s hard to predict what some of these players will do when coming over from Europe.

Knazko was drafted using the pick acquired from Montreal in the Josh Anderson trade. He is also headed to Beijing to play for Slovakia.

Stanislav Svozil (D) - Regina Pats (WHL) - 28GP 1-17-18

Svozil is also experiencing his first season in North America. He could very well end up being a third round steal by the Jackets. So far he’s had a nice season in the WHL.

Eric Hjorth (D) - AIK (HockeyAllsvenskan) - 4GP 0-1-1

The Swedish defenseman is now playing for AIK in Sweden’s second tier league. The 21 year old is listed at 6’3” 192lbs and has had some offensive success in leagues in Finland and Sweden. If you are looking at the prospect pipeline for a potential NHL shut-down defenseman, that could be Hjorth. It’ll be interesting to see if he can climb up to the SHL or if he’ll look to head to North America next season.

He went 2-2-4 in 9 games played in Finland’s top league before heading to Sweden.

Guillaume Richard (D) - Providence College - 26GP 2-11-13

The 2021 fourth round pick has seen some success in his first year at Providence College. He’s another player that could be seen as a shut-down defensive prospect. Listed at 6’2” 179lbs, scouting reports say he has good defensive instincts and the ability to quickly move the puck.

The Canadian defenseman was named Hockey East Defender of the Week on January 24th and was the Hockey East Defender of the Month back in October.

Mikael Pyyhtia (LW) - TPS (Liiga) - 34GP 6-8-14

The Finnish forward and 2020 fourth round pick continues to show year over year improvement in Finland’s top league — he’s doubled his production over last season. He may only have an outside shot of making the NHL, but at only 20 years old he could be someone to keep an eye on.

I know many commenters follow the prospect world. Do you have any insights into the players above or maybe someone not listed?