In the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets selected Danish right winger Oliver Bjorkstrand. As I looked over the draft results, that name jumped out at me. What a funny sounding name! I didn’t give much thought to the hockey player. At that point I was more excited about what the first rounders Wennberg, Dano, and Rychel would do.
Fast forward a couple years and our boy was tearing it up with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. In 193 games, he scored 290 (!) points (144 goals and 146 assists). This doesn’t include a line of 37/40/77 in 59 playoff games over three seasons.
It was near the end of that run that I can find my first instance of an all-caps reference to BJORKSTRAND. It’s a gimmick, and I know many of you are likely sick of it, but it’s MY gimmick and I don’t plan on stopping it any time soon.
Back to the player: his promotion to the AHL did not start as plan. After some struggles, he was shut down in November with an upper body injury. When returned, however, he put up a 15/8/23 line in 40 games. That was enough to earn him a brief run with the Blue Jackets in March. He scored 4 goals in 12 games, including this first two in his second NHL game: (video here, I can’t embed it because the NHL is dumb)
Upon returning to the Monsters, BJORKSTRAND elevated his game to a whole other level. He scored 10 goals and 6 assists in 17 playoff games. Six of those goals were game winners, including overtime goals in the final two games of the finals against Hershey.
Statistics (you might want to be sitting down for these)
Outlook for 2016-17
BJORKSTRAND is a rising star in the Jackets organization. While he has not been publicly promised a spot on the roster, the team has made moves to open some forward spots. He enters training camp with the inside track to take one of those spots. More importantly, based on his play last year he seems to be an obvious choice for a top 6 position. Of his 163 minutes of 5 on 5 play in Columbus, 45.8% were with Brandon Saad and 35.1% with Alexander Wennberg. My hope is that we start the year with that line intact. I also hope to see many celebratory “BJORKSTRAND!!!” comments in the future.