The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t entering training camp under the best of circumstances given that their top offensive player in 2013-14, Ryan Johansen, is still a restricted free agent. The 22-year-old forward is supposed to represent the franchise’s hope for the future and while that’s still largely the case despite the fact that his contract talks have turned ugly, the Blue Jackets have talented prospects beyond him that are looking to make their mark.
Columbus’ rookies won the 2014 Traverse City with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Dallas Stars’ prospects. Josh Anderson, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, netted the game-winning goal for the Blue Jackets.
That was Anderson’s fourth goal of the tournament and his third game-winner. After being a late cut in 2013, the 20-year-old power forward is going into this year’s training camp 10 pounds heavier.
“I felt like I had a pretty good camp last year, and I want to build off that,” Anderson said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “I had a really good summer. I’m ready to play hard and play well and see what happens. But this helps. This was really important, getting off to a start in this way.”
He wasn’t the only notable Blue Jackets’ prospect to excel in the tournament. Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano each had three goals and six points respectively while Oliver Bjorkstrand finished with four goals and T.J. Tynan found the back of the net once and had five assists.
If Johansen ends up missing Columbus’ training camp, then some of the team’s prospects could get bigger opportunities in preseason games. If his contract dispute remains unsolved by the season opener then the team will obviously have an extra roster spot that could be filled by another young player.
This is the third time the Blue Jackets have won the rookie tournament and it’s their first title since 2006.