Texier primed to make NHL debut with Blue Jackets

Texier primed to make NHL debut with Blue Jackets

With Cleveland, he had goals in three consecutive games over the March 22-24 weekend, then had two goals in Wednesday night’s victory for the Monsters. He also has two assists for seven points in seven games and is plus-6.

When asked earlier this year how Texier has developed the past two seasons, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen did not hesitate.

“I think beyond expectations,” he said. “We felt like we gave up a pretty good prospect in Keegan Kolesar to acquire the 45th pick (in that 2017 draft, which was used on Texier). He had a good year in the Finnish league as an 18-year-old, but then this year, it accelerated. His development skyrocketed, in my opinion.

“He had a little bit of a slow start because he had shoulder surgery in the offseason and he missed the first five games of the year. He struggled a little bit at the start, then after that, he’s been a point-per-game player in the Finnish league, which is hard to do. He’s a pleasure to watch.”

As for Texier’s skill set, he’s scored in a variety of ways since arriving in Cleveland. He’s showed a good hockey sense to get to the right spots on the ice for rebounds and also to sneak behind the defense to earn scoring chances, and his wrist shot has overpowered AHL goaltenders to this point.

All of that is one reason why Texier was one of three prospects — along with Swedish forward Emil Bemström and London Knights forward Liam Foudy — Kekalainen said teams were inquiring about at the trade deadline but the team would not move under any circumstances.

“He brings a lot,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a good playmaker, he’s a good passer, he’s got a great wrist shot, he’s a good skater, he sets the pace for the game, he has great speed. There’s a lot of good things about him.”

The Blue Jackets under Kekalainen and Tortorella haven’t shied away from inserting a young player in a playoff race if they think he can help. Two seasons ago, defenseman Gabriel Carlsson played the last two regular season games after finishing his season in Sweden, then was on the ice for all five of the team’s playoff games in a first-round series vs. Pittsburgh.

Columbus can clinch a third consecutive playoff bid tonight with a win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.