Reports have come out that Vitali Abramov will not be returning to the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL next season. While it’s hard to argue that he has anything left to prove there, it’s equally as difficult to see him breaking into the Columbus Blue Jackets roster for the 2017-18 season.
Vitali Abramov Pushing to Make Columbus Blue Jackets Roster
Abramov, 19, looks set to be yet another young name trying to force their way into the Blue Jackets roster for 2017-18. And while he isn’t in a place of relative security like Pierre-Luc Dubois, he seems dead set on this goal.
The original report from Le Droit states that Abramov is facing pressure from his family to move on to the professional ranks. And with Abramov already gaining interest from European teams, this seems a likely next step for the Russian winger.
The upcoming Blue Jackets training camp is going to be a pivotal moment in this series of events. How Abramov performs will be the difference between him being in the bottom six next season or playing abroad.
The biggest issue is that Abramov, being realistic, likely doesn’t fit in the current plans. While he is undoubtedly a talented hockey player, and an exciting prospect, he doesn’t look ready (yet) to make the jump to the NHL.
There are just too many names currently ahead of him in the depth chart at right wing. Abramov would be competing with the likes of Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson for the bottom six positions at right wing, a situation which doesn’t currently favor Abramov cracking the lineup.
And while many Fifth Line faithful would love to see another third round gem show some promise on the right wing, it is quite unlikely Abramov cracks the lineup out of training camp. The positive to take from this, however, is that is shows the ambition of Abramov and his desire to continue to push himself and develop his game, a trait that head coach John Tortorella actively seeks in his players.
Abramov and the Olympiques
Despite this report coming out, and the fact that Abramov told the Olympiques that he would not be coming to training camp, director of hockey operations Alain Sear seemed optimistic,
“The Abramov clan told us a month ago that the player did not intend to come to our camp. We are worried, but we are hopeful that he will end up with us if he is cut off by the Blue Jackets. The NHL has a clear rule for CHL drafted players. At this point, there is no point in alarming everyone. On the other hand, if he does not come, it would complicate the plans for our next season. We will do everything we can to convince him to come back.”
While Sear comes off calm and collected, he has every reason to worry that his leading scorer won’t be back next season. And for Abramov, that might be the best decision for continuing his development.
The Best Thing for Abramov
The best situation for Abramov would be to take this reported non-KHL European offer on his table. This would allow Abramov to test himself against men, showing both himself and the Blue Jackets organization that his size and age are purely just numbers.
The optimal contract for Abramov would be a one-year deal in Europe to prove himself. If he can showcase his talent to even half the level he did in the QMJHL last season, there is every reason to believe he could be part of the bottom six heading into the 2018-19 season.