The Blue Jackets “carry the flag” mantra worked last year, but the only place they’ve carried this flag this year is to the bottom of the Western Conference. Desperate for some chemistry and goal scoring, Ken Hitchcock and his coaching staff have again shifted around their line combinations.
Amazingly, for as bad as they’ve been, the Jackets were shut out for just the first time all season this past Thursday night by the Blackhawks. Columbus has scored just 15 goals in their seven games in January and scored just 29 goals in 16 games in December.
Even with those poor scoring trends, the Jackets do offer some attractive options in deeper leagues. These line changes are meant to open things up a bit offensively and finally included a demotion for constant underachiever Kristian Huselius.
RJ Umberger is owned in just 22% of all Yahoo leagues, despite having 30 points on the season. Obviously, center is a very deep position in nearly all leagues, but Umberger might be worth a pickup as a 3C. His -17 is enough to scare a lot of people away, but he has been one of the few Jackets playing with heart this season. Now that he will have Antoine Vermette on one wing and Rick Nash on the other, maybe Nash will snap out of his Mr. Freeze-inspired goalless funk and Umberger could be a beneficiary of that.
Derick Brassard has been in the throes of the proverbial “sophomore slump” all season long. As a result, Hitch dropped the second year pivot to fourth line duty to play with such offensive studs as Jared Boll, Andrew Murray, and Alexandre Picard. Hitch has finally wised up and moved Brassard back to the second line to be flanked by Raffi Torres and Jakub Voracek. Voracek and Brassard are two of Columbus’s most dangerous players and playing them together might help get some chemistry going. Brassard is owned in just 8% of all Yahoo leagues.
Similarly, Raffi Torres now has some real talent to play with and he may quickly increase his goal scoring totals. In fact, if this line gels, look for Torres to shoot up to 20 by mid-February or so. Voracek and Brassard should help create a lot of chances for Torres, owned in just 4% of Yahoo leagues. Torres is just a -2 on the bad Jackets team, which shows his level of defensive responsibility. Torres has 2+2 so far in January in six games. As an interesting tidbit, if you want to use Torres to fill out your bench, make sure he’s active on Thursday nights. He has seven goals in 10 Thursday contests.
These three potential acquisitions are definitely fillers for guys who are injured, but again, short-term waiver pickups can go a long way in helping your end of the year seeding in H2H leagues or help you pick up a few points on the teams ahead of you in your roto/points only leagues.