After having the most successful regular season in franchise, the Columbus Blue Jackets look to add to that legacy this season. This article will go over the offseason moves that the Jackets have done.
Starting with the Expansion Draft, the Blue Jackets made a major salary dump by dealing David Clarkson, a 2017 first round pick, and a 2019 2nd round pick in exchange for future draft considerations. The considerations were the Vegas Golden Knights were limited to take either Matt Calvert or William Karlsson in the draft. The Golden Knights selected Karlsson from Columbus to be on their team.
The Jackets then bought out the final two years of Scott Hartnell's contract. Hartnell's deal was a cap hit of $4.75 million per season. Hartnell scored his lowest goal total since the 2009-10 season with the Philadelphia Flyers, and had his lowest point total since leaving the Nashville Predators. On July 1, Hartnell signed à one year contract with Nashville.
On draft day, the Blue Jackets traded winger Brandon Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 5th round pick were dealt to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for winger Artemi Panarin, winger Tyler Motte, and a 2017 6th round pick (RW Jonathan Davidson). The Jackets also traded winger Keegan Kolesar to the Vegas Golden Knights for a 2017 2nd round pick (C Alexandre Texier, #45 overall). The Jackets also acquired center Jordan Schroeder from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for center Dante Salituro.
On July 1, the Blue Jackets lost wingers Lauri Korpikoski and Sam Gagner (VAN) defenseman Kyle Quiency (MIN) in the NHL. In the AHL, they lost veteran defensemen in Marc-Andre Bergeron and Ryan Stanton and Jamie Sifers. They also lost young guys in TJ Tynan and goalie Oscar Dansk to Vegas. They added experienced defenseman in Cameron Gaunce and Andre Benoit.
Overall, this team is continuing in the same forward progression as last year. They still have the same core players under contract on offense and defense. This is a prime team competing in a very tough division, and this team showed last year they can compete.
This team is more skilled with a sniper in their top six in Panarin, and he's going to start the year with Alex Wennberg as his center. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Nick Foligno rounded out that top line with the leadership and experience he carries.
Expect the second line to be the close to last year's second line. Under Richards and Tortorella, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson have spent a lot of time together, and Atkinson has managed to score 30 goals in a season with a gritty center. Under Richards, Matt Calvert played second line. Under Tortorella, it has seemed to be Boone Jenner. With the confidence in him in his rookie season, he will probably get the go to start the season at the second line.
With veteran depth guys gone, the third line could look extremely different this season than last. Last season, Hartnell, Karlsson, and Gagner spent time on the third line. And Calvert, Sedlak, and Bjorkstrand were the fourth line. Bjorkstrand had continued to grow tremendous since being a third round draft pick, and he could be in the top nine to start the season. The youth movement in Columbus could lead to Pierre-Luc Dubois being the team's third line center, after being drafted third overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Sticking with the prospects, Sonny Milano could finally crack the lineup too. And the fourth line could consist of Calvert, Sedlak, and Josh Anderson (when his contract situation finally resolves).
The defense department is the team's strong suit, with the same top five this year as last year in Zach Werenski with Seth Jones; Jack Johnson with David Savard; and Ryan Murray. The number six spot is a carousel of competition between three young defenseman in Markus Nutivarra, who won the spot last year; Scott Harrington, who was an offseason acquisition in the Kerby Rychel swap; and Gabriel Carlsson, the team's first round pick in 2015.
In net, the goaltending situation that was a concern midsession appears to be settled with the one two combination of Sergei Bobrovsky and Jonas Korpisalo.
So to wrap everything into what just a couple lines here's my projected lineups
Artemi Panarin -- Alex Wennberg -- Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand
Matt Calvert -- Lukas Sedlak -- Josh Anderson
Paul Bittner -- Jordan Schroeder -- Vitaly Abramov
Markus Hannikanen -- Zac Dalpe -- Alex Broadhurst
Tyler Motte -- Carter Camper -- Kole Sherwood
Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones
Jack Johnson -- David Savard
Ryan Murray -- Markus Nutivarra
Scott Harrington -- Gabriel Carlson
Andre Benoit -- Cameron Gaunce
Prediction on where they finish: 2nd in the Metropolitan Division
What are your thoughts? Comment below! More to come...
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