Jakub Voracek RW
18 years old, 6-2, 190 pounds (Kladno, Czech Republic)
Columbus' 1st pick, 7th overall, 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Voracek found himself in the cozy confines of home over the holidays when he returned to the Czech Republic to represent his country in the World Junior Hockey Championships. He did that well, leading the fifth-place Czechs in scoring with six assists in six games, while registering a +4 rating and 17 shots on goal. Voracek actually kept an ongoing blog for The Hockey News throughout the tournament. When the young playmaker returned to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he picked up right where he left off – as a top threat on the powerful Halifax Mooseheads. Voracek had three goals and five assists in his first three games back, two of which were Halifax wins. Despite playing in just 28 games, his 58 points (19-39-58) were just 10 off the Q's leader Francis Paré, who had 33 goals and 35 assists through 47 games.
Derick Brassard C
20 years old, 6-1, 172 pounds (Hull, Quebec)
Columbus' 1st pick, 6th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
After a lengthy stint away from the ice suffering from a broken jaw, Brassard returned to action with the Crunch and played five games before getting his first ever call up to the Blue Jackets. Brassard had yet to score a point three games into his NHL career, though head coach Ken Hitchcock has shown trust in the talented rookie by giving him some minutes on the power play. On January 9, the Hull, Quebec native was named to the Team Canada squad for the AHL All-Star Classic scheduled later in the month. Brassard tallied five goals and 20 helpers in 21 games with Syracuse.
Stefan Legein RW
18 years old, 5-9, 170 pounds (Oakville, Ontario)
Columbus' 2nd pick, 37th overall in 2007 NHL Entry Draft
The World Junior Hockey Championships proved to be a bittersweet experience for Legein, who has been a force this year with the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs. The Oakville, Ontario native had a goal and assist through seven games but suffered a shoulder injury after taking a hit in Canada's OT win over Sweden during the gold medal game. He was unable to finish the night but left the Czech Republic with the medal around his neck, noting to media that he felt no pain during the singing of the Canadian national anthem. Legein remains out of action but was just named to the East Division squad in next month's OHL All-Star Classic.
Jesse Dudas D
19 years old, 6-1, 228 pounds (St. Albert, Alberta)
Columbus' 8th pick, 159th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
Dudas got a taste of the business side of hockey when he was recently dealt from the Western Hockey League's Prince George Cougars to the Swift Current Broncos. An emerging playmaker from the back end, Dudas picked up his first point for the Broncos when he drew an assist on teammate David Stieler's power-play marker in the first period of a 4-2 loss to the Regina Pats last Saturday. The St. Alberta, Alberta native put up two goals and 19 assists in 29 games with the Cougars before being traded. He also has 70 penalty minutes in 31 total games.
Jake Hansen RW
18 years old, 6-1, 182 pounds (St. Paul, Minnesota)
Columbus' 4th pick, 68th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Hansen has been on a tear of late as he continues to blossom into a scoring threat in his first full season of USHL action with the Sioux Falls Stampede. The St. Paul, Minnesota native racked up a goal and two assists in a 5-4 OT loss to Tri-City on January 4 and followed that up with two assists in a 4-2 win over Omaha the following night. Hansen was held pointless in a loss the next time out but rebounded with two more assists in an overtime loss to the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets, giving him seven points through the four games. The skilled forward has registered 19 goals and 15 assists for 34 points overall (second on the team) through 31 games. He was +7 to that point, while also showcasing his abilities with the man advantage, scoring five of his 19 goals and nine of his 15 helpers on the power play.
Will Weber D
19 years old, 6-4, 205 pounds (Traverse City, Michigan)
Columbus' 3rd pick, 53rd overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft
Weber continues to progress in his first year of junior hockey with the Chicago Steel. The intriguing blueline prospect has six goals (two on the power play) and seven assists after 31 games, while also registering a solid +10 rating (tied for tops on the team among defensemen) and a team-high 111 PIM. Weber's most recent goal came on the Nationwide Arena ice against Ohio in a 4-2 Steel win on the afternoon of December 31.
Matt Marquardt LW
20 years old, 6-3, 229 pounds (North Bay, Ontario)
Columbus' 10th pick, 194th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft
The imposing forward from North Bay, Ontario was dealt from the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in late December. But that hardly slowed the big winger down as he went on to tally 11 goals and three assists in his first 10 games with the Drakkar, including a hat-trick on six shots in a 5-1 win over Lewiston last Sunday. Marquardt has been finding the back of the net with regularity all season – he had 32 goals and 17 assists for 49 points through 46 games between both Moncton and Baie-Comeau.