While most hockey fans were either locked in on the World Juniors or resting comfortably until action recommences on Friday, the Columbus Blue Jackets were signing a key component for the team’s future.
The Blue Jackets signed right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand to a three-year entry level contract. The club selected the 18-year-old Danish forward 89th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He currently skates for the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.
In 32 games with Portland this season, Bjorkstrand has 25 goals and 31 assists. He is third in the WHL in short-handed goals, fourth in points and goals, eighth in assists and plus/minus, and seventh in game-winning markers.
In 97 career WHL games, he has 56 goals and 63 assists.
The book on Bjorkstrand is that he’s an aggressive forechecker with a nose for the front of the net. Very little deters him from the high traffic areas and he has a heavy shot to match a quick release, making him an offensive threat. He should be a nice fit for the Blue Jackets and signing him now is a smart move.
“Oliver Bjorkstrand is a talented player with a tremendous work ethic, and we believe he has an extremely bright future,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “He is enjoying a breakout season in the WHL this year, and is one of a group of young players in our organization that we are very excited about.”
Bjorkstrand will also continue to benefit from the high-end Portland system, which should allow him what he needs to hone his talents. He benefited from skating with Nicolas Petan, who is second in the WHL in points, but the Winterhawks have spread the love around recently and given Bjorkstrand some different looks.
In short, the Blue Jackets have a lot of upside with this signing. He has a bundle of awards in tow already and should be able to crack the NHL game without much of a problem.