Jakub Voracek RW
18 years old, 6-2, 190 pounds (Kladno, Czech Republic)
Columbus's 1st pick, 7th overall, 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Voracek's name is near the top of the list when hockey people discuss the most dynamic and gifted players in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, a league renowned for its superior level of offensive play. The Q's Offensive Player of the month for January, Voracek is a virtual lock when it comes to multi-point games and he continued that trend recently, scoring a goal and adding an assist in the Halifax Mooseheads' 5-4 OT win over the Lewiston Maineiacs earlier this week. In just 37 games, Voracek has recorded 24 goals and a league-best 51 assists for 75 points (fourth in the league as of Thursday, February 7). He trails Q leader Dean Ouellet by just three points despite having played in 18 fewer games. But leadership has become as much a part of Voraz's game as setting up teammates. He's been credited with helping fellow Kladno native and linemate Tomas Knotek learn the ropes in the Q and the rook has responded on the ice with 19-32-51 in a standout rookie season, reminiscent of Voracek's efforts last year.
Stefan Legein RW
18 years old, 5-9, 170 pounds (Oakville, Ontario)
Columbus's 2nd pick, 37th overall in 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Legein remains on the shelf for the Niagara IceDogs, still recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in Team Canada's gold-medal game win over Sweden in the World Junior Hockey Championships. Before departing for the Czech Republic in December, he was enjoying a great season with the IceDogs, scoring 17 goals and adding 10 assists in 23 games, and playing with an edge the entire time.
Jesse Dudas D
19 years old, 6-1, 228 pounds (St. Albert, Alberta)
Columbus's 8th pick, 159th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
Dudas has had a pretty good spell on the Swift Current Broncos blueline since being traded from the Prince George Cougars. In 11 games since the two Western Hockey League clubs made the deal, Dudas has scored once and added six assists. The gifted playmaker now has 25 assists on the year in 40 total games but the biggest difference since Dudas arrived in Swift Current has come in the plus-minus department – he was -17 in his first 29 games with the Cougars but is a rock-solid +10 for his new club, which sits seventh in the WHL's Eastern Conference. The change of scenery has been good for the big rearguard.
Jake Hansen RW
18 years old, 6-1, 182 pounds (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Columbus's 4th pick, 68th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Hansen has shown no signs of slowing down in a breakout year with the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League. In his first full season of junior, Hansen ranks 11th in league scoring with 21 goals, 17 assists and a strong +10 rating. He's emerged as a major threat on the power play with six of his goals and nine of his helpers coming on Stampede man advantages. Adding even more intrigue to this Jackets' prospect is the fact that five of his goals have been game winners, which is tops in the entire league. In a recent 5-3 win over Sioux City, the St. Paul native buried an important goal on the power play that restored a two-goal lead for the Stampede, while finishing the night with an incredible nine shots on goal (equaling his season high back on December 8, also against Sioux City).
Will Weber D
19 years old, 6-4, 205 pounds (Traverse City, Michigan)
Columbus's 3rd pick, 53rd overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Though offensive numbers have been tough to come by of late, Weber continues to get chances from the Chicago Steel's back end. He has six goals and eight assists in the first 38 games of his rookie campaign in the USHL, with two of the goals and three assists coming on the power play. Weber plays with obvious grit, evidenced by his 117 penalty minutes (tied for sixth in the league as of February 7) but he has been solid in his own zone, registering a +9 rating. Despite being held to zero shots on goal in his last outing against Indiana on February 2, the towering D-man racked up 16 shots in his previous four games.
Matt Marquardt LW
20 years old, 6-3, 229 pounds (North Bay, Ontario)
Columbus's 10th pick, 194th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
Marquardt has adapted well to his new surroundings as a member of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar after arriving via trade from the Moncton Wildcats. He's been sizzling on offense, scoring 15 times with 10 assists in just 19 games with the first-place Drakkar. The 15 markers have come on 67 shots, giving him an impressive 22.40 shooting percentage since joining the new club. In late January, Marquardt earned the QMJHL's offensive player of the week honors when he racked up four goals and four assists in four games (three on the road), extending his point streak at the time to seven games. In one of those outings against the Victoriaville Tigres, he scored his 34th and 35th goals of the year, the latter being the game winner in a 5-3 Baie-Comeau win.