WHL Prospect Watch: Blue Jackets

As Inside Hockey’s own Ed Cmar wrote on Sunday, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ playoff hopes seem bleak as they’ve managed just two wins in their last ten games and sit seven points out of a playoff spot with 13 games remaining. Despite all that, the Jackets own the highest drafted player in the Western Hockey League, Ryan Johansen and an offensive-minded defenceman in Austin Madaisky.

Ryan Johansen (C, Portland Winterhawks) — The forth-overall pick in last June’s draft, Johansen ranks 10th in the WHL in scoring with 37 goals and 48 assists in 59 games this season. The 6-foot-2 center won’t turn 19 until July and is in his second WHL season. Johansen also represented Canada in the IIHF World Junior Championships this year, taking home a silver medal.

“We really wanted him to come back to junior this year and be part of a winning culture and the world juniors was going to be a big stage for him,” Columbus development coach Tyler Wright told the Vernon Morning Star. “He wasn’t a lock to make the team, but made the team and made a huge impression in the tournament, falling short a little bit.

“He’s got an exciting future,” Wright said.

Johansen, who weighs 190 pounds, models his game after San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, admitting to watching Sharks games online to “just learn tips from him.”

Austin Madaisky (D, Kamloops Blazers) – Madaisky tallied 27 points (7 goals, 20 assists) in 55 games for Kamloops before suffering a non-displaced fracture of his seventh cervical vertebrae on Feb. 4. He’s recovering from the injury at his Surrey, BC home and he told the Kamloops Daily News doctors expect him to recover fully without surgery.

Madaisky is working out now, but isn’t doing “squats . . . or jumping or power exercises.”

The 18-year-old defenceman played 65 games between the Calgary Hitmen and the Blazers last season, finishing with seven goals and 20 assists. Columbus took him in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. NHL Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire compared Madaisky’s game to Buffalo Sabres d-man Tyler Myers.

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