Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ohio Junior Blue Jackets 2008-09 Preview

Where will they be playing next season? Your best guess is mine, but there are a few interesting rumors rolling around out there. It may be best for them to cease operations and let the league operate with an even number of teams.

Key Departures:
Tim Hall-One of the team's best players.
Derek Roehl-Big goal scorer.
Daniel Barczuk-Was quietly one of Ohio's best players.

Goalie (1):
Pasquale Terrazzano (1989) - Very solid goalie, going to be good next year.

Goalie Evaluation:
Terrazzano went 16-15-3 and in the process tied the franchise record for goalie wins. Pasquale is a very sound goalie and will help Ohio be successful next season. Down the stretch, he became the Junior Blue Jackets go to goalie and nearly helped them into playoffs. Terrazzano could have the makings of being a top goalie in this league.

Defense (3):
Luke Witkowski (1990) - Big kid, likes to play physical.
Matthew Stewart (1991) - Saw limited action, and was -10.
Steven Spinell (1990) - Led team in +/- and led returning D in goals.

Defense Evaluation:
Ohio returns a very young group of defensemen. Witkowski and Spinell are both highly regarded and should reap the benefits from having a full year of play under their belt. Spinell, at least stat-wise, appears to be the most well-rounded of the guys coming back. Stewart will need to adjust quickly, as he will need to chip in right away to help this defense.

Forwards (7):
George Michalke (1990) - Started to get better adapted towards end of season.
Matt Leitner (1990) - Should be the team's best forward.
Rich Leitner (1988) - Gritty and a scoring threat.
Danny Durham (1989) - Third year guy, needs to put up more points.
Justin Cseter (1988) - An amazing fifth year in this league.
Andy Taranto (1988) - Bulky forward, should help be a team leader.
Elias Bianchi (1989) - Good player, should make a bigger impact next season.

Forward Evaluation:
Ohio is looking to return a lot of experience up front, as Durham and Taranto will be third year guys. To go along with that, Rich Leitner spent time in the NAHL prior to Ohio, so he is familiar with the junior hockey ranks. Justin Cseter will enter his fifth year in the league, which is unheard of. Matt Leitner looks like the early candidate for the best forward of this team, while Elias Bianchi could end up rivaling him. Michalke got better towards the end of the season and should look to carry that momentum into next season.

Futures Evaluation:
Now this group I really don't have much idea at all, so I won't spend much time talking about them. Mark Goggin seems to be the prized possession here, as he was asked to join the NTDP to play with them late in the season, so he is highly regarded. Eamonn McDermott was Ohio's first round futures pick last October, but I've seen reports that USHL may be his ceiling in terms of how good he can be.

Overall Evaluation: B-

No comments: