The biggest surprise of the 2016-17 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets finished with 108 points, for third in the Metropolitan division. But, the fell to the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins team in five games. But, GM Jarmo Kekalainen made a blockbuster trade, sending Brandon Saad to Chicago for Artemi Panarin, who\’s scored over 150 points in the last two seasons. The Blue Jackets didn\’t do much in the offseason besides that, but here\’s a look at what they did.
Notable additions: F Artemi Panarin, F Tyler Motte, Jordan Schroeder, D Andre Benoit.
Notable subtractions: F Brandon Saad, C Sam Gagner, F Scott Hartnell, G Anton Forsberg, C William Karlsson, D Kyle Quincey.
Here are my projected forward lines.
Artemi Panrin – Alex Wennberg – Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno – Brandon Dubinsky – Boone Jenner
Tyler Motte – Pierre-Luc Dubois – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Matt Calvert – Lukas Sedlak – Josh Anderson
The top-6 is really good. Dubois, a former third overall pick, is looking to break in to the NHL this year, with two players who are looking for breakout seasons. The fourth line is a good fourth line. Markus Hannikainen and Jordan Schroeder are the extra forwards.
Here are my projected defensive pairs
Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Ryan Murray – David Savard
Gabriel Carlsson – Jack Johnson
The top pairing with Werenski and Jones is money. Murray is looking to breakout, or his days in Columbus could be over. Johnson could play with Carlsson, a rookie on the bottom pair. Andre Benoit, Markus Nutivaara and Scott Harrington are the extra defensemen.
Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina winner, will once again be between the pipes in Columbus. Korpisalo is still young, and looking for a good season.
With a similar core, the Blue Jackets are still good. Led by Norris finalist Seth Jones, they will return to the playoffs in 2017-18.
Also, check out my YouTube video preview here.