Top 25 Under 25 Midseason Check-In Part I

Let’s see how the young players on the Columbus roster have done so far

As we enter the second half of the season, I thought now would be a good time to check in on our Top 25 Under 25 list we compiled back in the late summer.

Today we will go through those players that have been regulars for the Blue Jackets this season. In subsequent posts, we’ll cover the players who have spent most of their time in Cleveland with the Monster, and finally those top prospects playing in juniors or Europe.

We will look our projections, how that compares to the reality, and see if each player has risen or fallen relative to this teammates.

#1 Brandon Saad

Stats: 49 GP, 17G, 20A, 37P, 6PIM, 17:11 ATOI, 54.97 Corgi
Matt said:  “Once the NHL season starts, he will be expected to lead the Blue Jackets’ offense once again. There’s no reason not to expect another 30+ goal season, and hoping that with a stronger team around him, he can give fans in Columbus a glimpse of a brighter future.”
This year: While not on a 30 goal pace, Saad has still has his share of highlight reel goals. He will always be a streaky scorer. He’s been a key part of the top line and has been the best possession player on the team.
Stock: He may drop from #1, but for no fault of his. I would say his stock remains steady.

#2 Seth Jones

Stats: 43 GP, 9G, 17A, 26P, 12PIM, 23:25 ATOI, 51.73 Corgi
PD said:  “Jones leads all Jacket skaters in ice time, and we see a noticeable improvement from the entire defensive corps.”
This year: Yep, Jones leads all skaters in average time on ice and is the undisputed leader of the defensive corps. He has shown improvement in all facets of his game. He has been a stud in OT. This all resulted in his first appearance in the All Star Game.
Stock: I would argue that Jones is currently the most valuable skater in Columbus (obviously Bob is more important overall) so I would rank him #1 at the moment.

#3 Boone Jenner

Stats: 49 GP, 9G, 7A, 16P, 21PIM, 15:17 ATOI, 48.41 Corgi
Jeff said:  “With a John Tortorella Training Camp in the offing, the Blue Jackets will likely be in the best condition of their lives when the regular season begins, and that can only help a guy like Jenner, who thrives on effort, and just needs those rough edges of discipline and game management smoothed out a bit. Look for Jenner to crack the sixty point barrier this season.”
This year: Boone is one of the bigger disappointments of the season. He is nowhere near that 60 point mark that Jeff predicted, or the 30 goal mark he hit last season. He has spent most of the season with Brandon Dubinsky and while both have been OK defensively they have been an offensive black hole.
Stock: Boone’s stock has fallen. Fortunately he’s still young and there’s room for improvement.

#4 Ryan Murray

Stats: 44 GP, 1G, 9A, 10P, 24PIM, 18:42 ATOI, 46.04 Corgi
Seeds said:  “He will play on special teams, play lots of minutes at even strength, and get time to develop. It’s on him to become the shutdown guy every Jackets fan hopes he can be.”
This year: Speaking of disappointments. Instead of being a top pairing defenseman, Murray has spent most of the season on the third pair with Markus Nutivaara.
Stock: Like Boone, Murray’s stock has fallen but we hope he can still find another level. Thankfully the arrival of Zach Werenski and the revival of David Savard have made Murray less of a liability.

#5 Alexander Wennberg

Stats: 49 GP, 9G, 34A, 43P, 17PIM, 18:21 ATOI, 51.41 Corgi
Mike said:  “It’s a contract year for Wennberg, so he’ll be looking to put up gaudy enough numbers to earn a long-term deal, though Boone Jenner put up 30 goals last season and earned a bridge deal. We can probably expect the same for Wennberg.”
This year: Wennberg has blossomed into a #1 center, easing the concerns many of us had before the start of the season. He still lacks an inclination to shoot, but with Saad and Nick Foligno on his wings at even strength and a spot on the top PP unit in the league, he has had plenty of assist opportunities.
Stock: I would leave Wennberg around #5 on the rankings, but his value to the team has increased.

#6 Zach Werenski

Stats: 49 GP, 8 G, 23A, 31P, 12PIM, 21:09 ATOI, 52.88 Corgi
Matt said:  “Werenski’s strengths are his skating, positioning, and an absolute cannon of a shot. That should make him a natural for power play work, and it’s quite likely that he’ll see time on the second PP unit, where he’ll have the opportunity to put up some points. I would not be shocked to see him need 10-20 games to really get his skates under him at the NHL level, but I think it’s quite likely we’ll see Werenski put up 15-20 points from the blue line this season, with the potential for more depending on how he is utilized on special teams, and how quickly he adapts to the speed of the NHL game. That said, I would love nothing better than to be proven wrong, and see him shred the NHL en route to a Calder Trophy nomination.”
This year: Werenski needed very little time to adjust. The 19 year old rookie has been the point man on that top PP unit. He has played heavy minutes in the top pairing with Jones. He earned rookie of the month honors for November and should earn a Calder Trophy nomination.  
Stock: His stock is very high and still rising. Werenski and Jones are the foundation of the blue line for years to come.

#11 William Karlsson

Stats: 49 GP, 6G, 12A, 18P, 2PIM, 13:58 ATOI, 47.60 Corgi
Matt said:  “Coming into camp, it’s likely that “Wild Bill” will have the fourth line center position locked down, but a solid performance in the preseason could see him taking on a third line role behind Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky, and given more responsibility against top competition. After putting up 9-11-20 last year, I’m personally expecting Karlsson to score 10+ goals for the first time in his NHL career, and to meet and exceed his previous scoring totals as he’s given more ice time and responsibility.”
This year: Matt was right on again. Wild Bill has been the third center, but behind Wennberg and Dubinsky. For most of the season he has been flanked by Matt Calvert and Josh Anderson and they have been the go-to “energy line.” Torts deploys them after scores and after power plays. His play eventually earned him a spot on the second PP unit.  
Stock: Karlsson has been a very reliable bottom 6 forward, and I don’t mean that as a slight. His ceiling may not be much higher but he is still the kind of role player that every good team needs.

#14 Josh Anderson

Stats: 49 GP, 10G, 9A, 19P, 56PIM, 12:07 ATOI, 46.99 Corgi
Seeds said:  “Anderson will be with the big club all through the preseason, though he will likely start the season with the Cleveland Monsters. After his performances last season, expect him to be one of the first players called up as an injury replacement. Anderson has the size and drive to compete in the NHL- can he add the scoring to complement those (especially if some of the veterans find their way out of town)?”
This year: Turns out we didn’t have to wait that long. Anderson earned his spot out of camp and has shown a surprising amount of scoring ability. He also leads the team in penalty minutes, which fulfills his destiny as a Jared Boll replacement. But, you know, if Boll were an effective two-way forward.  
Stock: Anderson’s stock is rising. Many Cannon commenters fear that he has been so good that he would be the player lost to Vegas in the Expansion Draft.

#15 Lukas Sedlak

Stats: 47GP, 6G, 6A, 12P, 19PIM, 9:41 ATOI, 54.07 Corgi
Seeds said:  “Sedlak will be back with the Monsters this season. The pressure will be on him to up his offensive game and light the lamp more this year. His future with the club will be determined by him separating himself from the pack of bottom six prospects the club has and demonstrating real value to the big club.”
This year: Sedlak had a strong preseason and earned a spot on the team out of camp (in part because he was no longer waiver-exempt). After my boy BJORKSTRAND got sent down, Sedlak slotted into the lineup as the fourth line center and has not left that spot. He has appeared very comfortable between Scott Hartnell and Sam Gagner, though in sheltered minutes.  
Stock: Sedlak has shown himself to be an NHL-caliber player, which is better than many expected. Will this last as other center prospects develop? We’ll see.

#25 Scott Harrington

Stats: 9GP, 1G, 2A, 3P, 4PIM, 12:42 ATOI, 44.17 Corgi
Mike said:  “With Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard and Jack Johnson locking down four of the starting six defense positions, and Zach Werenski looking to make the team out of camp, Harrington will be battling Dalton Prout, Cody Goloubef and Dean Kukan for a job on the final pairing. The guess here is that Harrington will start the season playing an important role for the Cleveland Monsters, but will be among the first callups when injuries or poor play occur on the Columbus blueline.”
This year: Harrington make the team out of camp rather than being put on the waiver wire. He has been a spare forward for most of the season, often going more than a month between appearances. He’s gotten regular playing time with the injuries to Savard and Nutivaara and has had mixed results. He has not shown much potential beyond being a third pairing defender.  
Stock: Harrington is not much of a long term prospect. The most surprising defender this season was Markus Nutivaara, who was barely on our radar for this list.

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