Columbus Blue Jackets



Columbus Blue Jackets


Columbus Blue Jackets logo.svg

Artemi Panarin was a sensation in his first year in Ohio, able to lead the team in scoring with 82 points in 81 games The trade for Brandon Saad appeared to be rather one sided, and one of Jarmo Kekkalainen’s best moves during his reign as GM.
But this offseason, Panarin hasn’t hidden his desire to leave town at the end (or before the end) of his deal at the end of 2018-2019. Though it’s odd that he doesn’t appear to have a rift with management, even suggesting through his agent he’d request a trade before the deadline solely so they’d get a strong return. The trade sounds like it’s one that has to deal with him not loving living in Columbus as a city, rather than a disagreement with anyone in the organization.
What exactly it is about Columbus that Panarin can’t find in other cities isn’t exactly clear, but he does have only one chance at an NHL career and likely got used to the big-city lifestyle of Chicago.
Beyond the Panarin saga, Columbus has plenty to be proud of. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski could be the two best young defencemen in the league, and they’re both Blue Jackets for the forseeable future. While Jones has four more years left on his deal, Werenski will be playing out the final year of his entry-level contract this upcoming year and should be signing a lengthy contract soon.
Sergei Bobrovsky has put up Vezina-worthy numbers just about every year he’s been in a Blue Jackets uniform, and the team is soon facing tough questions about Bob’s future as well. The odds of Korpisalo becoming every bit as talented and consistent as Bobrovsky are still relatively low.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alex Wennberg and Sonny Milano complement Pierre-Luc Dubois as a solid quadrant of young forwards, but where Columbus’ main roster hole comes in is their lack of veteran forward depth. Beyond Panarin, not a single player over 25 hit 50 points this past season. 28-year old Cam Atkinson hit 46 in 65 games, which is a fine total, but when you compare them to say, the Washington Capitals, it isn’t hard to see where the Caps walked the Blue Jackets in the final four games of their opening round series.
Columbus is far from the franchise they were that came into the league and suffered losing fates for years to come. But they may also be quickly stuck in mediocrity if they’re not able to sort out a crisis with their highest winger, and acquire some forward depth to help complement a pair that has the potential to be this generation’s Pronger-MacInnis.
Columbus should be making the postseason a third year in a row, but that could all go south if they make the tough decision to sell early and retool their roster to open up their contending window a few years down the line.

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