1) The Jackets have won nine games in a row, at a point in the season where the only thing to be gained is positive mojo heading into the offseason. You know what? I love it.
I'm a draft nut, but tanking is not in my lexicon. You play to win, no questions asked. The recent streak is proving something that all fans of the team should appreciate: that we can almost officially attribute the lack of playoffs this season to the laughable amount of injuries this team endured. This streak has shown that when reasonably healthy, the Jackets can beat almost any team in the league. This affirmation, though it doesn't improve anything this season, shows just how little needs to happen to get back to the playoffs next year.
If the team would have sputtered to end the season once they started to get healthy, you'd have to wonder if last year was a fluke and sweeping changes would be required. Now we know that last year was no fluke, and this team is built to win.
2) Thanks to their recent winning ways, the team has moved up in the standings, currently sitting 23rd in the league. Lottery aside, that would give them the eighth overall pick in the draft if the season ended today. If you recall my mock draft from March, I had defenseman Ivan Provorov going in that slot. If Provorov does in fact last to eight, the Jackets would get a terrific young defender, who could mentor under countryman Fedor Tyutin.
(1-10) McDavid, Eichel, Strome, Marner, Hanifin, Werenski, Connor, Provorov, Rantanen, Crouse
(11-20) Meier, Harkins, Boeser, Chabot, Barzal, Merkley, Beauvillier, Bittner, Zboril, Zacha
(21-30) Konecny, Kylington, Carlo, Sprong, Svechnikov, Roy, Meloche, Debrusk, White, Chlapik
3) Speaking of the lottery, it takes place on Saturday, 18 April. The new wrinkle this year is that all non-playoff teams have a chance at the first overall pick. In previous years, winning the lottery meant you could only move up five slots.
Imagine, the Jackets have one down year due to injuries, finish the season strong by embracing the full anti-tank philosophy, and then they win the draft lottery. One down year to get McDavid, yet they came by it honestly, rather then stripping the team down into something barely resembling an NHL team? The Jackets deserve to win it.
4) The Springfield Falcons have been victims of the ripple effect caused by the devastation in Columbus this season. They now sit just outside the playoffs, with time running out. Though it looks like this could be the final season of the affiliation between the two clubs, I think you'd have to back and say it was a successful partnership. The idea of Columbus teaming up with Lake Erie writes itself, and would of course help boost the CBJ presence in that part of the state. Here's to wishing the Falcons luck as they try to make the playoffs.
5) Sure, there's Kerby Rychel, Sonny Milano, Mike Reilly and Dillon Heatherington at the top of the prospect list. How about T.J. Tynan though? He sits atop the scoring charts for Springfield and is making a good impression on the coaching staff. If he can continue to develop and become a fixture on the Jackets, it will soften the blow of the Nikita Filatov debacle. Filatov was eventually traded to Ottawa for the third round pick used to take Tynan.
6) Check out this amazing sweater concept. MAKE IT HAPPEN CBJ!
7) Even in a down year, it's really something that the Jackets have four 20-goal scorers, including one who's already hit thirty and two others who are flirting with the mark. Nick Foligno, Ryan Johansen, Scott Hartnell and Cam Atkinson are all locked up as key members of the roster. Throw in a full season from Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner and continued development of Alexander Wennberg and Marko Dano, and the Jackets' primary and secondary scoring is in good shape for years to come. The issue lies with the bottom six. Artem Anisimov will chip in some scoring while excelling in a two-way role, but unless David Clarkson, Rene Bourque, Matt Calvert, Mark Letestu, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, Jack Skille or Jared Boll can offer some more offense, the team's overall differential will still remain in the negative. More is needed on the scoresheet from the energy and depth guys.
8) The Jackets are set up well depth-wise up front next season, with three players looking for new deals (free agents marked with an *)
Calvert, Letestu, Skille and Collins need new contracts. I'd mark Calvert and Letestu as priorities, as they are 2/3 of what should be the Jackets' fourth line next season. We've seen recently what a more talented, speedy fourth line can do.
If we assume that the lineup I posted above is accurate, or at least close to what the team will ice next season, I'm curious to see what will happen with Morin, Tropp, Bourque and Boll. This all leads me to wonder if the team will deal one of the forwards higher in the lineup for a defenseman. Arty?
9) There are six CHL prospects still active. Sonny Milano and Markus Soberg's squads didn't qualify for the postseason. In the Q, Olivier LeBlanc has been injured for Cape Breton, while Julien Pelletier has put up 0-4-4 in 5 games for the Huskies, who are down 3-2 in their series against Val D'Or. Game six is this evening.
Nick Moutrey has a pair of assists as his North Bay Battalion await the start of their second round matchup against Barrie. North Bay swept Kingston in the opening round. Blake Siebenaler and the IceDogs are playing in Game 6 of their series with Ottawa as I type this. Niagara is up 3-2 in the series, with Siebenaler sitting on a single assist.
Dillon Heatherington's Swift Current Broncos were swept by the Regina Pats in the first round, with Heatherington going pointless. The Pats will face Peter Quenneville and the Brandon Wheat Kings in the second round. The Wheaties defeated the Edmonton Oil Kings, with Quenneville scoring 1-3-4 in five games. Oliver Bjorkstrand continues to be dominant, sitting third in the WHL in playoff scoring with 3-7-10 in five games. His Portland Winterhawks are up 3-2 on Seattle with game six on tap for Tuesday.
10) I'll just leave this here (from Reddit):