On Sunday September 18th the Columbus Blue Jackets held their third-annual Owners’ Tournament. The basic setup is the four primary owners of the Blue Jackets draft teams from the players that are attending training camp. The teams play a mini tournament with the winning team taking home the McConnell Cup, named for the late John H. McConnell, the founder and original majority owner of the Blue Jackets.
Taking the McConnell Cup this year was Team Wolfe, who defeated Team Pizzuti 5-2 in a spirited final that was much closer than the score would indicate. The score was 3-2 until Team Wolfe tacked on two empty-net goals in the final minute of the game. In the consolation game the defending champion Team Crane lost out to Team McConnell by a score of 4-1. The earlier semi-final matches were both decided by identical 4-1 scores, with Team Pizzuti knocking off Team McConnell and Team Wolfe beating Team Crane.
- Steve Mason played extremely well in allowing three goals combined in two games. Late in the final he was tested by Rick Nash who had an open shot from the high-slot and went high glove, Mason was up to the task making a nice glove save.
- Defenseman Kris Russell and Right Wing Derek Dorsett played extremely well in both victories for Team Wolfe. With prospects pushing for playing time, these two players are thought to have tenuous grips on their starting jobs.
- Picked up in a trade with Philadelphia last season, Center Michael Chaput had quite a final game notching an assist and two goals, including the game-winner.
- Center Derick Brassard was very noticeable on the ice, and for good reasons. He played with intensity and a bit of an edge. Brassard also seems to have worked on his faceoff skills as he beat Jeff Carter, Samuel Pahlsson and Antoine Vermette multiple times.
- While much has been made of his power play abilities, one of the best aspects of free agent acquisition James Wisniewski’s game was his first pass out of the defensive zone. He made crisp, accurate passes that moved the puck along well.
- Defenseman John Moore still looks to be a year or two away. He pinches too often, and sometimes too far with little to no regard of whether anyone rotates to cover. That being said, he walks the line with the puck well, has a good shot, and is very quick.
- Goaltender Mark Dekanich looked very solid, he only allowed one more goal than Mason and gave up the game-winner on a breakaway.
- While I praised Kris Russell’s play earlier there is still a troubling aspect as well. He often has trouble skating the puck out if he gets pressured deep in the defensive zone. Twice he was hemmed in by an effective forecheck and both times he promptly made poor passes that resulted in turnovers. Veterans like Russell simply cannot make mistakes like that.
- Other players that impressed: Tomas Kubalik, Ryan Johansen, Theo Ruth, Dalton Prout, Maksim Mayorov, Cam Atkinson, Jared Boll, Aaron Bogosian, Boone Jenner, Steven Delisle.
- Players that did not impress: Lukas Sedlak, Dalton Smith, Petr Straka, Cody Bass, Ryan Russell, Curtis Sanford, Allen York