This week we’re looking at the future of the blue line for the Columbus Blue Jackets. While he doesn’t have the flashy upside that come with some of the other defense prospects for the team, Corson Ceulemans is still an important future piece of the puzzle here.
You might look at his statistics with the Cleveland Monsters and think it’s time to write Corson out of this team’s plans. Since turning pro in the spring, he’s skated in 27 AHL games, with just one goal and five points in that time. Definitely not the kind of output you would expect from a player picked in the first round (#25 overall) at the 2021 NHL Draft.
But, I’m always quick to point out a couple of things with this player: first and foremost, we always have to remember that defensemen take time to develop their game. They all come along at different paces, and I wouldn’t expect Ceulemans to make any kind of NHL impact for at least another 1-2 years. Secondly, I don’t think he will be the kind of defenseman that puts up big counting stats like goals or assists.
I like to think of Corson as a kind of Seth Jones-lite. He’s a big-body (6’2″, around 200 pounds) who can really skate well. He uses his skating to take away time and space from attackers; as well as jumping into the rush to generate offense. On the offensive side, he doesn’t have any one trait that sticks out – like the deft playmaking of Denton Mateychuk, or the heavy shot of David Jiricek – but he’s good all around, and will generate some points here and there as he gets comfortable.
His game is more built on being a transitional beast, breaking up plays defensively and turning the puck up the ice the other way. Again, not dissimilar to what we saw with Seth Jones in his six seasons in Columbus. He’s not overtly physical or punishing; he’s just efficient and gets the job done more often than not.
One thing I don’t really see Corson having a big offensive season, such as Seth’s 57 point output in 2017-18. He just doesn’t have the same kind of upside. But that’s perfectly fine for a player picked in this range, and I think he could settle into a second or third pairing role, taking on heavy defensive assignments, and surprising us with some points here and there.
In regards to his role, maybe think of him as the ultimate heir apparent to what David Savard became with this team. A guy who just quietly went about his job and got it done consistently. If Ceulemans can develop into that kind of defender for this team, he’ll be well worth the wait – however long it takes.