As we hit the midpoint of the season, and with the World Juniors in the background, it seems like as good a time as any to take at how the Blue Jackets' prospects are doing in their 2019-20 seasons. This week, we'll take a look at the forwards before doing the defensemen and goaltenders in coming weeks.
Three Columbus-drafted forwards had impressive showings at the recent World Juniors event in the Czech Republic. Leading the way was Canadian forward Liam Foudy, who earned gold with Team Canada and had a solid tournament with three goals and four points.
Foudy is one of two CBJ forwards having an impressive season in the Ontario Hockey League. The captain of the London Knights, Foudy has overcome an early-season shoulder injury to post 15 goals and 32 points in 23 games with the Knights. The 2018 first-round draft pick of the Blue Jackets has been one of the top forwards in the OHL and could be a candidate to join the Columbus roster a year from now.
Up the way in Windsor, Tyler Angle is having his best season at the OHL level in his fourth campaign. The 2019 seventh-round pick has been one of the most consistent forwards in the league this season and already has career highs in all three major categories with 21 goals, 25 assists and 46 points in 39 games.
The other two CBJ forwards to take part in the World Juniors are Russians Kirill Marchenko and Dmitri Voronkov, who earned silver medals at the tournament. Both are playing this season in the KHL at 19 years old, with Marchenko forcing his way into the lineup at SKA St. Petersburg and posting three goals and six points in 16 games with the Russian powerhouse. The skilled 2018 second-round pick is signed with SKA through 2022 but projects as a potential impact player at the NHL level given his ability to put the puck in the net, which he showed with a 2-4-6 line at the World Juniors.
Voronkov has earned a regular KHL shift as well with Ak Bars Kazan, posting a goal and three assists in 18 games. The 2018 fourth-round pick was one of the more impressive players at the World Juniors, scoring a point per game with three goals and four assists while showing off a physical, hard to play against nature.
While Blue Jackets fans have seemingly seen just about the entire Cleveland Monsters roster make its way to Columbus throughout the season, a number of players are going through injury-derailed seasons down at the AHL level as well.
Trey Fix-Wolansky, a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft with the wheels and competitiveness to be a future NHLer, has been limited to 19 games and has a 2-5-7 line. Kole Sherwood also has been limited by injuries and has four goals and six points in 20 games at the AHL level. Other notable names still at Cleveland include Calvin Thurkauf (seventh round, 2016; 4-11-15 in 32 games), Justin Scott (6-8-14 in 38 games), Sam Vigneault (8-3-11 in 38 games) and Paul Bittner (second round, 2015; 4-5-9 in 32 games).
At the college level, two players to keep an eye on are Ohio State's Carson Meyer and UConn's Kale Howarth. Meyer, a Powell native who was a sixth-round pick in 2017, is having his best season as a senior, posting seven goals and nine assists in 21 games for a Buckeye team ranked in the top 10.
Howarth, meanwhile, was tabbed in the fifth round in 2018. The massive forward has a 3-6-9 line in 18 games with the Huskies this year as a sophomore.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, 2018 third-round pick Marcus Karlberg has had quite a year. The 19-year-old has played in Sweden's top league, it's top junior league and its No. 2 men's league. While he has yet to score a point in eight games with Leksands at the highest level, Karlberg has been impressive at the junior level with 11 goals and 20 points in 17 games.
Monsters drop three: A shorthanded Cleveland team had a rough weekend road trip, falling Friday at Binghamton, Saturday at Hershey and Sunday at Lehigh Valley.
In the opener Friday in Binghamton, the Devils jumped on Cleveland early, scoring three first-period goals on the way to a 5-2 win. Veini Vehvilainen made 27 saves in the loss, while Thurkauf and Vigneault tallied for Cleveland. It was a two-point game for Thurkauf, while Adam Clendening had a pair of assists.
Saturday, the team moved south to Hershey but dropped a 4-2 decision after the Bears broke a 2-all tie with a goal with 3:20 to play. Clendening had a goal and an assist while Vigneault tallied for the second straight game, and Vehvilainen stopped 27 of the 30 shots he saw.
Lehigh Valley then claimed a 2-0 win Sunday despite the fact the Monsters had a 35-16 edge in shots on goal. Former Monsters goalie Jean-Francois Berube earned the shutout, while Brad Thiessen made 14 saves in a game that was scoreless until 2:14 to play.