Kerby Rychel is ready to take the next step in his hockey career. After participating in the Blue Jackets prospect development camp last week, he is staying in Columbus one more week to train with the team and work toward training camp in September.
Rychel’s last game was May 25 when he and the Guelph Storm lost to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the championship game of the 2014 Memorial Cup. The loss was hard for Rychel but he is ready to close the book on his junior hockey career and move forward.
"The last game was tough, and it’s something I’ll never forget," Rychel said. "I’ve tried to turn the page and look toward next year and be the best hockey player I can be come September."
September’s training camp will be the next big challenge for Rychel. The 19-year-old was drafted 19th overall by the Blue Jackets in the 2013 NHL draft and his focus is on earning an NHL roster spot sooner rather than later.
"I took two-to-three weeks off (after the Memorial Cup). I had played in 100 plus games," Rychel said. "It’s important to get the proper rest, but now I’m back in full training mode. I’m looking forward to September."
Rychel will use this time in Columbus to further blend the training program he follows with that of Jackets strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins.
"My trainer is looking at the Blue Jackets training program and is implementing it into my workouts," Rychel said. "I think a mixture of both is good. And it’s important to cover all aspects of training."
After this week in Columbus, Rychel is not sure if he’ll return for more work with the Blue Jackets prior to training camp but he will touch base with Jackets forward Boone Jenner — a player Rychel has stayed in touch with and one who earned a spot on the Jackets roster after completing his junior hockey career.
"I’ve seen him a few times and hopefully we’ll hang out a bit this week," Rychel said.
It remains to be seen if Rychel will follow in Jenner’s footsteps and make the Jackets roster this coming season, but development coach Chris Clark believes there is always an opportunity for players who are ready for the NHL.
"If you’re ready in our organization they are going to make room for that," Clark said. "It’s great for guys – they see that Jenner and (Jackets defenseman) Ryan Murray made the leap to the NHL and know that hard work can pay off."
Full and partial season tickets for the Blue Jackets’ 2014-15 campaign are currently available for purchase. Information on all ticketing options can be obtained by calling (800) NHLâCOLS or by visiting BlueJackets.com.