An off-year in the 2016 season, trading away one of their top offensive players and having one of their seasoned veterans on the trading block to start the season, they have all added up to some lower projections to start the year.
As good as their number one goalie can be and has been, he hasn't exactly been the most durable, which can lead to less confidence in his projections. The defense for the Jackets is carrying far more potential than career numbers, which is a positive for the future, but makes for a significant gamble in the hockey pool. Finally, the forwards are short on pop, even on paper. There are some names that have done good things in the past, but being a part of something bigger and less about individual successes.
The Jackets will have to rely heavily on the chemistry that is created with the roster below, if they are going to push for the playoffs this season. I have a marginal increase in their ability to pick up points for the hockey pool, which is what we're about, but I believe it falls more in their depth than their stars, which should be better for deeper picks than the banner picks to celebrate.
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Winning the Calder Cup in the AHL and getting the MVP of those playoffs has really set the table for Oliver Bjorkstrand and the Columbus Blue Jackets have dinner ready for him.
The 3rd round pick in 2013 is potentially ready to make an impact with the Blue Jackets this coming season and his 8 points in 12 NHL games last season was a good indication of that. There is certainly some potential to exceed the 40-point range projection that is set up for him here, but I would wait to see who he is playing with before you get too excited. Make sure he's got that top six role before you take him too high.
First Round Picks
There were no players really jumping out of the projection list for a pick in the opening round, but Sergei Bobrovsky does have that sort of game that can lead to a 1st round pick. Last season, he was a 1st round pick in the draft and it really wouldn't surprise me if he was again, but I'm not sure the Blue Jackets will provide him the game that gives him that many wins.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The 73-point season that Nick Foligno had in 2015 has been all but forgotten and he was a landmine pick last season, but someone had to jump on it and take that gamble. I believe that there will be some worthy picks in Columbus, but I would be careful of where they are taken, as history has shown, even the best performances are very volatile here. Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson should all be safe picks in the mid-rounds, while Scott Hartnell and Brandon Dubinsky can really go either way, not to mention, could go out of town.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The acquisition of Seth Jones has all kinds of potential, now that he will get some top end minutes on the team's top pairing, which should elevate his status. Ryan Murray is still looking to hit his stride, but that might not be too far away, after much waiting. David Savard and Jack Johnson each possess the ability to provide offense from the back end, but they will rely on the scoring touch of the forwards, which is still in question.
How much are you willing to wager that Sergei Bobrovsky stays healthy all season long? A 1st round pick, maybe a 2nd? He is the epitome of a high risk-high reward player and this year's projection meets it somewhere in the middle, since there is no real answer to that question. The back-up, Joonas Korpisalo, is in place to take over the minutes, if needed, and getting him late would certainly minimize his risk on your pool team.
Team To Pick From?
The uncertainty of this team does make for quite the gamble in my mind, especially when it comes to the late rounds, when you're looking for safer picks to help you through the dregs of the season. The late rounds are also for those home runs of high risk and high reward, where the Jackets are not short on risk, but the reward still remains questionable. I would likely avoid the Jackets, unless something or someone has emerged in training camp as a dark horse.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Jackets have no free agents to worry about from their own list of players in the 2016 season and they have seemingly opened up the wallet again for the coming season, as they are not holding back much against the cap ceiling for the 2017 season. Their current projected 23-man roster is only $1.4 million short of the ceiling, but there are still some decisions to be made for this club.
Defenseman David Savard underwent surgery early in the off-season to repair one of his feet, where there was reportedly a bone floating around. That couldn't have helped his game last season and heading to camp at 100% is very likely and possibly something that could also help his overall numbers. We're also waiting to hear what the status of David Clarkson will be to start the season, as he was dealing with some back problems to finish the 2016 season, but as the projections suggest, we're not really expecting him to be pool worthy this season.