Yesterday, prior to all the free agency hype (WE GOT JOHNNY GAUDREAU!!!), several CBJ prospects got their chance to show off their skills in the annual prospect tournament. The event, held in suburban Columbus’s Chiller North, took place in four stages; 15 minutes of 5-on-5, 12 minutes of 4-on-4, 10 minutes of 3-on-3, and a five-round shootout.
Despite taking charge of the 5-on-5 portion, and have great stages of play in the later period, the White team would allow five straight to the Blue team, falling 5-2. But the score isn’t as important as the individual performances, so here’s a list of who stood out in the action.
First Star - Kent Johnson
Easily having the best performance of the tournament, Johnson scored both goals for the White team, showed off his vision with some great passes, and an attempt at a lacrosse goal. He had several shifts where he slid around the opposition to turn breakouts into breakaways, or found a way to get open in a dangerous spot.
Second Star - David Jiricek
The 6th overall pick in this year’s draft was also made a great first impression. Showing immediate chemistry with Denton Mateychuk, Jiricek also made several great plays, set up several chances, and didn’t stand out as any type of defensive liability. He also has some sneaky speed, separating from forecheckers and using his maneuverability to escape a couple bad situation.
Third Star - Corson Ceulemans
Corson Ceulemans, taken in last year’s draft, also impressed in his debut. The defenseman made several good plays, including robbing Luca Del Bel Belluz from a breakaway chance and an impressive blue line keep-in during the 5-on-5 portion. Easily the standout player on the Blue team.
Honorable Mention - Luca Del Bel Belluz
Speaking of Luca Del Bel Belluz, I have to give him a more in-depth shoutout for his performance. Lots of fans were critical of Jarmo for not selecting a center with the 12th overall pick, but the 44th overall selection looked really good as White’s 2C. He had several good opportunities, was frequently notable as faster and bigger than his opposition, and in general looked very comfortable on the ice. I’m very excited to see where he goes in the next few years.
Denton Mateychuk - Speaking of the 12th overall pick, he looked really good! He had some fantastic chances, looked comfortable quarterbacking White’s attack, and, as mentioned, had immediate chemistry with Jiricek.
Kirill Marchenko - Mixed bag. Marchenko had some good looks, but failed to capitalize on any of them. He had a great, Texier-style move in the shootout, though.
Cole Clayton - On an AHL contract, the young defensemen had several good moves and dumped Jiricek along the boards at one point. Plus he scored the game winning goal.
Ole Bjorgvik-Holm - The Norwegian as big as his name didn’t really impress me in any way. I guess that’s good for a defenseman, but I wish he’d separate himself a bit more from the pack.
Pavel Cajan - The camp invite let in four goals to the blue team after the midpoint swap, though two of them he couldn’t do much about.
Jordan Dumais - The next-highest pick not already mentioned. I’d like to see more from him next year.