Home Arena: Nationwide Arena – columbus, OH., 18,500 capacity
Championships: None to date
Owner: John P. McConnell
General Manager: Jarmo Kekalainen
Head Coach: John Tortorella
Team Captain: Nick Foligno
Throughout the 2019 NHL season, the Columbus Blue Jackets offense remained towards the top of the pack. The post-trade deadline was especially productive for the Blue Jackets as the team added forwards such as Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene to a group that was already boasting the talents of Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson. The Blue Jackets finished 12th in the league in goals scored, combining as a team to pot 256 goals. The team’s chemistry was especially strong when it came to five-on-five play as the team finished sixth in the league when it came to scoring even-strength goals. They even rounded out the top-ten in the NHL in shooting percentage, having a combined 9.9 percent. That play couldn’t translate to the power play however as the team ended their season 28th-overall with the man advantage, finishing with only a 15.38 percent success rate. Although they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by eventual finalists, the Boston Bruins, there’s a lot to be said about the team that ousted the Stanley Cup-favorite Tampa Bay Lightning in a first-round sweep.
The Columbus offseason saw almost as much movement as their trade deadline – most of it causing the opposite reaction of the excitement surrounding their deadline trades. Star forward Artemi Panarin opted to sign as a free agent with the New York Rangers this offseason after leading Columbus last year with 99 points. On top of that, all forwards acquired at the deadline (Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Anthony Duclair) signed with new clubs. Columbus did manage to add Gustav Nyquist to the lineup. Nyquist is a star player but can hardly make up for all the star power lost. The rest of the offseason was mostly spent coming to new terms with third and fourth line restricted free agents. Expect a completely different team to hit the ice this season.
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Last season, Columbus finished at slightly above average when it came to defensive play. They finished 11th in the league in fewest goals allowed and seventh-overall for fewest shots against. They allowed the 12th-most even-strength goals against. The biggest positive for the team last season was the penalty killing. The team allowed the fewest power-play goals against in the entire NHL in 2019 and had the second-best penalty-killing percentage at 85 percent – 0.02 percent behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
Luckily for the Blue Jackets, after much back and forth, the team was able to reach a new deal with restricted free agent Zach Werenski. Other than that, though, there isn’t much to be excited about when it comes to the defensive core heading into next season. It is expected that Werenski will round out the top-pairing with Seth Jones but after that, the defense pairings are expected to be based on constant experimentation. The main strength comes from their depth and, if things shouldn’t work out in the first quarter of the season, there are several players that would be able to jump into the lineup with the potential to make an immediate impact. But constantly swapping lines usually ends up hurting a team, making them unable to develop any form of chemistry.
It was another banner year in the crease for Columbus as Sergei Bobrovsky remained consistently in top form. The team finished 11th in the league in fewest goals allowed. The goaltending squad combined for nine shutouts – the sixth-most in the league. Bobrovsky went 37-24-1 last season, posting a goals-against-average of 2.58 and a save percentage of .913. All of those nine shutouts mentioned earlier belonged to Bobrovsky. Joonas Korpisalo had a record of 10-7-3 last season. His save percentage, however, was only at .897. His GAA sat at 2.95.
Columbus’ goaltending situation heading into next season is roughly in the same scenario as the team’s offense. All-Star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, like Panarin, opted to sign a new, long-term deal with another NHL team – the Florida Panthers. Keith Kinkaid, a veteran backup that the team picked up at the deadline, also left the team during the offseason. The team is expected to ride the tandem of Joonas Korpisalo, who recently signed a new deal with the team and Elvis Merzlikins. Korpisalo has been an on-again, off-again backup for the team since 2015 and Merzkilins while finding plenty of success in the Swiss league, has yet to transition to the North American style of play. However, he has been touted as Columbus’ goalie of the future.
It’s high-risk, high-reward for the Columbus Blue Jackets (and for anyone that may pick him up in a fantasy league) but rookie goaltender Elvis Merzlikins will be the player to watch and has the most potential to be the team’s breakout star in 2020. The lowest his save percentage has hit over the last seven years of his professional career was .912 in 2015-16. He doesn’t have a single minute of NHL ice-time but many scouts say his style of play in Europe should translate better than most to the North American ways.
Oddsmakers have set the Columbus Blue Jackets as +3700 to win the Stanley Cup in 2020, placing them in the middle of the pack. The O/U for the regular-season points total has been set at 86.5. They are +175 to make the playoffs next season and -225 to miss.
|Sportsbook||Over 86.5||Under 86.5|
|Fox Bet NJ||+4500|
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