We are 21 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
|Sam Gagner – C – (from PHI)||Kerby Rychel – LW – (to TOR)|
|Scott Harrington – D – (from TOR)||Fedor Tyutin – D – (to COL)|
|Jared Boll – RW – (to ANA)|
In 2015-16, the Blue Jackets missed the playoffs for the second straight year and for the 13th time in their 15-year history. After getting off to an ugly 0-7-0 start to the season, the Blue Jackets fired their head coach Todd Richards and brought in the fiery John Tortorella, who carried them to a 34-33-8 record.
It was a busy offseason for a lot of NHL teams, but the Blue Jackets were not one of them. They come into the 2016-17 season with pretty much the same team that finished last year.
Up front, Columbus is led by Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner. In Saad’s first season with the Blue Jackets, he scored 31 goals with 22 assists (53 points) in 78 games. Saad was expected to play with Ryan Johansen, but the duo only played 200 minutes together before Johansen was traded to Nashville. The 23-year-old Jenner also turned in a 30-goal season and comes in as their No.1 centre. Behind those two are a number of veterans—Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell—all who have been fairly consistent point producers during their time in Columbus. The Blue Jackets will also have an infusion of young talent this season. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson are expected to make the opening night roster after splitting last year between the AHL and NHL. Bjorkstrand had eight points (4G / 4A) in 12 games with the Blue Jackets and could crack the top-6 this year. The 21-year-old had back-to-back 100-plus point seasons with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) prior to last year, showcasing his high-end offensive ability. Anderson is not the high-end offensive prospect that Bjorkstrand is, but he put up solid numbers at Lake Erie (AHL) last year—the 22-year-old had 18 goals and 21 assists (39 points) in 58 games.
Their blueline has a lot of upside heading into 2016-17. Seth Jones was acquired in the Johansen deal is their No.1 defenseman and appears to be ready for a breakout season. Ryan Murray, a former No.2 overall pick has battled injuries since being drafted, but appeared in all 82 games last season and showcased good chemistry with Jones. Jack Johnson and David Savard are not overly impressive, but solid enough to make up a steady No.2 pairing. Lastly, Zach Werenski was the No.8 overall pick in 2015 and is coming off of a great year at the University of Michigan and should be another one of the first-year players to make the opening night roster.
Nothing has changed in goal either. The duo of Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney is back with Joonas Korpisalo lurking as the No.3 option. Last year, Bobrovsky battled injuries and was largely ineffective when he was available. The same thing could be said about McElhinney, who had an ugly 3.30 goals against average (GAA) and .890 save percentage (SV%) in limited time. That led to Korpisalo starting 30 games, in which he went 16-11-4 with a 2.60 GAA and .920 SV%—by far the best numbers among the three. Regardless of that he will likely start this year in the AHL and Bobrovsky will be leaned on heavily, as long as he can stay healthy.
Overall, the Blue Jackets are basically the same team as they were last year but with a lot of young talent, they can be expected to take a step forward. However, they do not appear to have enough high-end talent to be a playoff team in 2016-17.
Blue Jackets in the DFO Top 275:
- 66. Brandon Saad – LW
- 112. Sergei Bobrovsky – G
- 136. Seth Jones – D
- 147. Boone Jenner – C
- 194. Scott Hartnell – LW
- 200. Brandon Dubinsky – C
- 202. Cam Atkinson – RW
- 230. Nick Foligno – LW
- 243. Oliver Bjorkstrand – RW
- 265. David Savard – D
2016-17 Season Projection:
Last year Tortorella had the Blue Jackets on pace for 37 wins over 82 games, expect a slightly improved team that should get to 40 wins, but that’s about it. They are still a player or two away from being a legit playoff contender.