Thanks to all who submitted questions for the offseason's 11th #CBJ mailbag. Hopefully, we'll get together every Thursday/Friday and I'll answer your questions, so send them to @RobMixer anytime.
Matt Barnes (@Matt_NBC4)
Which Blue Jackets player has the best golf game?
Finally, a good question!
But seriously, this is a tough one to answer. I’ll go with two players for now: Ryan Johansen and Alexander Wennberg. They’re both huge fans of golf, they follow the sport closely and happen to be pretty good at it, too.
If we’re getting into scouting reports: Johansen, obviously, has a great frame for a golfer (6-foot-3 and strong) so he hits it a country mile with a high power fade that doesn’t go too far off line. You’d think he might struggle around the greens, but Joey’s got touch, man. Good putter, too.
Wennberg also hits it to the moon and can take a healthy rip at it. Hits his irons solid, straight and with a penetrating flight. Like all Swedes, he’s thoughtful and tactical and knows how to think his way around the course.
And to be fair, a lot of the guys on the team have solid golf games. Boone Jenner’s a good player, Brandon Dubinsky, Dalton Prout and several others…I’ll stop here before I leave anyone out and have to take heat for it.
Jill Smith (@JillS1228)
With strong Winterhawks connection now, any chance Jackets come to Portland for exhibition game?
Not anytime soon, Jill. The Blue Jackets (and most NHL teams) set their exhibition schedules well in advance, and also tend to keep with teams they’ve played in preseason before and/or have some geographical sense to them. For example: you probably won’t see the Blue Jackets playing exhibition games too far west of the Central time zone, but hey, I’ve been wrong before. You’re right in that the Blue Jackets have some strong ties to the Portland Winterhawks (Dubinsky, Johansen, Bjorkstrand, Bittner), which is a very good thing because that’s a quality organization that has produced a lot of NHL players over the years.
Who do you think will be a surprise out of training camp?
I’m sticking with my prediction from a couple of months ago: I truly believe one of the kids (namely Oliver Bjorkstrand or Sonny Milano, and maybe both of them) will have a tremendous showing at training camp and give the Blue Jackets something to think about. I’ll take it a step further and say one of them will give management and the coaching staff a really difficult decision that comes down to the wire.
Will they do enough to make the team? It’s a really tall task, perhaps taller than it’s ever been in the history of the franchise. There are so many forwards – quality forwards at that – and making the leap to the NHL right away might be too tough to pull off. But the best part is that, if they don’t make the team in October, they will start in Cleveland and be prime candidates for call-ups when the time calls for it.
Mind you: there’s no rush. Let the kids earn it, develop in the minors, all that good stuff. But my gut feeling is that one of them will make a splash in camp.
Colin Madigan (@CMAD77)
I read an article giving every team's top prospect and it named Bjorkstrand the CBJ's. Who are your top 5 CBJ prospects?
Here are my top five (in no particular order):
If I had to place a “top prospect” label on one of the five, I would probably agree with what you read and go with Bjorkstrand. Any one you talk to raves about the kid: his professionalism, his work ethic, his drive, his raw skill, all of it. Hard to believe the Blue Jackets got this kid with the No. 89 overall pick a couple of years ago, and picked up Dillon Heatherington in that same deal with Pittsburgh.