The simple answer is the Columbus Blue Jackets 7th round pick is really good. But will TFW translate to the AHL and NHL?
Our frequent looks at the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect system has been centered around Trey Fix-Wolansky almost without exception. And for good reason. The Jackets 7th round pick from this summer’s draft has done nothing but dominate a very good Western Hockey League this season.
Through 21 games the Edmonton Oil King’s captain has 12 goals and 30 assist for 42 points. That’s good for the top spot in the WHL, which boast some of the best prospects in the CHL. The 19-year-old has been making a ton of noise this year and has been consistent enough this year to ask the question, how good can he be? Does the 7th round pick have a chance to make the NHL squad in a few years?
He needs to continue to dominate the WHL and be a key leader on the Oil Kings who are looking to end a playoff appearance drought. A 115 point season and a playoff series victory will be a great year for the winger. TFW turns 20 in May and would be eligible to head to the AHL which is the most important step for him.
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The biggest question mark is can Fix-Wolansky, who is only 5’7″, find a way to continue his high level of play in a much more physically demanding league like the AHL. The Jackets, and may teams around the NHL are having success with smaller, skilled players that, 10 years ago, may not have made it in the NHL.
Those players though still need to have a tenacious streak in them that TFW seems to have but needs to be tested at the next level. a tenacious streak that Cam Atkinson, who is only an inch taller than Trey, certainly posesses and has been a halmark of his playing style alongside his great scoring ability. Nathan Gerbe, who at 5’5″ is the shortest player in the AHL, has had his stint in the NHL with the Jackets and is currently playing well with the Cleveland Monsters. Gerbe also isn’t afraid to play physical and that mentality has led to a long career for the Michigan native.
There is a laundry list of other NHLers who have come into the league with size questions but found success. Johnny Gaudreau, Tyler Johnson, and Mats Zuccarello are all players who have shown that just because you are short, doesn’t mean you can’t play in this league at a high level. With a drastic shift away from big hits and fighting, players like Trey have a greater chance of taking their scoring abilities to the NHL than ever before.
I’m not going to say Fix-Wolansky is a sure fire 50 point player in the NHL but that is looking like his ceiling right now. He has great scoring touch, great hockey sense, and he is an above average skater with signs of improvement. His defensive game appears to have taken a step up but he isn’t an elite two way player yet which would be great to see by the end of the season.
Fix-Wolansky’s dominate 2018-2019 season is a huge bright spot in a prospect system that thrives off of finding hidden gems in the draft. Hopefully for the Jackets, Trey Fix-Wolansky is the next short diamond in the rough.