Columbus Blue Jacket Prospect Watch: Mateychuk on a Mission

COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 24: Denton Mateychuk #5 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena on September 24, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 24: Denton Mateychuk #5 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the first period against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena on September 24, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images) /
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We wrote Denton Mateychuk off with our summer roster preview, thinking there was no chance he would make the Columbus Blue Jacket roster this fall. While that was the correct outcome, he was much closer than we anticipated. Now, Mateychuk is on a mission to get to the NHL soon – rather than later.

It’s not that I don’t believe in Denton Mateychuk or his abilities. In fact, we ranked him as the third best prospect in the system in our summer prospect rankings. But, the team is loaded with seven defensemen on one-way NHL contracts, and Mateychuk isn’t even the top ranked defenseman in the system. It seemed like an NHL job was still at least one, probably even two years away.

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All Denton did was show up to training camp ready to roll, having a really strong camp and preseason, ultimately making the decision to send him back to the WHL a really difficult one. Even though he was eye opening in a good way, I think this was the correct decision, because now he’ll have a chance to dominate offensively, while growing his overall game – and, he’ll likely star for team Canada at the upcoming World Junior Championships.

He’s picked up right where he left off at Blue Jackets camp. Since returning to the Moose Jaw Warriors, he’s scored 4 goals and 11 assists – 18 points, in just 11 games. He has points in all 11 games since heading back, while acting as captain for the team currently ranked 7th in the CHL power rankings. He ranks 6th in the WHL in scoring by defensemen, with several of the players ahead of him having more games under their belts.

Mateychuk is currently on pace for roughly 100 points, though I don’t think he’ll get there because he will miss at least some time for team Canada, even if it’s just for camp. Who am I kidding, though? He’ll make that team, and he should be a major piece of the blue line for the perennial powerhouse Canadians.

Sep 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Denton Mateychuk (5) takes a shot on goal during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2023; Buffalo, New York, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Denton Mateychuk (5) takes a shot on goal during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

The smooth skating defenseman is a one-man transition for his team, able to hold onto the puck for what seems like an eternity while waiting for plays to open up. He can generate offense from virtually anywhere on the ice, but what impressed me most this preseason was his overall game. He really has come a long way, and I think we might be able to bump up his NHL ETA – maybe as soon as next year.

The fact of the matter here is, Mateychuk should be the top ranked prospect in the system by Christmas. This is assuming that both Adam Fantilli and David Jiricek remain in the NHL , of course. But, don’t let that detract from the main point here: this guy is a tremendous player, and he’s going to make the Blue Jackets a better team the moment he arrives in Columbus full-time.

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