As hockey seasons around the globe start to finish up, one question that seems to be buzzing around right now: which Blue Jacket prospects will be turning to the pro ranks at season’s end. There’s some confusion about how things work, so today we’ll run through them and provide a little background.
One of the top prospects for the Blue Jackets has already seen his season conclude. Defenseman Corson Ceulemans now has a decision to make, and it might not be all that difficult because the Wisconsin Badgers had an awful season, that resulted in the firing of head coach Tony Granato this week.
The NCAA rule is simple: once a player signs a paid professional contract, they are no longer eligible to play at the NCAA level. Ceulemans has two years in Wisconsin under his belt, but has yet to sign an ELC to play professional hockey, which means this could go either way. If he signs in the near future, chances are that he could finish out the season in the AHL, officially ending his NCAA career. We’ll have to wait to see where this one goes, but he can play right away in Cleveland if he wants to.
The Jackets have two other prospects playing at the NCAA level, also both defensemen. Guillaume Richard (Providence College) and Aidan Hreschuk (Boston College) are both still playing. Both are longer-term prospects, so it’s hard to see either of them leaving college this season.
Looking overseas, the Jackets have two players that we’re keeping a keen eye on. Dmitry Voronkov is NHL ready and should help the center depth here immediately. The rule in this situation is that, he can’t sign an NHL contract until his KHL deal is complete – and his deal expires at season’s end. But, don’t get too excited – he plays on one of the better teams in the KHL, so I would bet we’re more likely to see him next fall, rather than this spring.
Mikael Pyyhtia is already under contract with the Jackets, but has been playing on loan in Finland. Odds are, we won’t see him back on this side of the pond until prospect camp this summer. He’s likely to spend next year in Cleveland, learning the North American game.