When I think about the Columbus Blue Jackets my first thought...
Wait, let's back up.
Because the original idea behind these thoughts originated, but have been festering, before and since the aftermath of Columbus' fifth-straight loss to the Capitals. But, then following a six-goal outburst, and the Jackets busting their slump at the Devils' expense Saturday, I might have to reevaluate a few things.
Nope, not really.
Okay, let's continue ... is trade away expiring contracts. Boone Jenner, Jack Johnson, Matt Calvert — I like Calvert. More on him.
Make a Trade, Get Some Draft Picks
1st Ohio Battery’s Paul Berthelot talked in detail about Jenner, his struggles, and while other teams could possibly want to take a gander at that glass-half-full potential (24-years-old, grinder, has not missed a game in each of the last two seasons, 18 goals, 16 assists, 34 points last season) Jarmo Kekäläinen might not be so hasty to give up what looked like a promising scorer.
At least, that, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli. But if someone was willing, I doubt Kekäläinen would fail to budge. For a draft pick?
Coach John Tortorella also spoke recently about Jenner and his struggles but sees him figuring things out.
Really though, it would seem unlikely Columbus gives him an extension next summer. If a team wants to dance, make a trade. Selling potentially low is better than buying high or giving him away for nothing.
I would prefer to keep Calvert but if you are able to bring something valuable back, take the deal and you can always target him in free agency. His grit and scoring are welcome. Playoffs or not, any or all of those trades are not making the team or hindering the present situation.
I know depth is nice but for a middling team at this juncture, and keeping eyes on seasons beyond this one, what difference does it really make?
I also wonder about Ryan Murray.
His injury history, to put it bluntly, is a shame because he has flashed the potential when he is able to play constant minutes. But as an up-and-coming RFA, maybe Columbus opts to keep him, and likely at a reasonable price, for a season or two.
Murray’s on-ice presence is a bit overshadowed by the constant injury-bug.
One thing, maybe more-or-less a coincidence, the Jackets made the playoffs in two of the three seasons in which Murray cracked at least 60 games played — only three times in his five-year career has he played at least 60 games. The Blue Jackets made the playoffs in 2013-14 and 2016-17.
The only season Murray played all 82 came in 2015-16.
Who knows what Murray’s status is right now, and will be for the rest of the season, and though he returned to practice recently, I doubt he goes anywhere on the trade front. Especially if the team did trade Johnson.
Bob is Best With Rest
Let Joonas Korpisalo have more starts. There's clearly a process in place but Korpisalo can make more of the starts, along with Sergei Bobrovsky, for the stretch run.
Yeah, I know, Bob isn't great with a lot of rest. Or hasn't been. But over-working isn't going to work either, and Korpisalo is a worthy backup that is more than capable.
There's a nucleus of talent and then the big decisions start to loom with expiring contracts of Artemi Panarin, Zach Werenski, and Bobrovsky. I believe Korpisalo is the future in net. Whether that's following 2018-19 likely assumes the notion Columbus is essentially starting over, or at least, moving on from the bigger contracts. Weresnki can sign yesterday as far as I’m concerned. But, honestly, all three are superb.
What do you pay one of the top goalies, in Bobrovsky, on the market?
Make Your Own Puck Luck!
John Tortorella talked about the luck — last season — making that luck — this year — and not getting frustrated, because what's the point?
That sentiment echoed recently, a constant theme, but especially rained true over the weekend, following the loss at Washington and before Columbus put forth five games worth of frustration against New Jersey. Tortorella also said the team was close and that certainly appeared evident Saturday. Now, the other side of it, is the Jackets spreading the newfound scoring-wealth starting with a rematch against the Islanders Tuesday night back in Brooklyn.
Over the Jackets last four games, Columbus has outshot its opponents in each of them: 49 versus the Islanders, 39 versus the Caps, 37 versus the Caps, and a season-high 50 against the Devils. They outshot the Sharks 29-28, the difference coming on the power play with San Jose scoring twice.
Sigh. That penalty killing problem.
GOALS, GOALS, GOALS!
Last Year's Fool's Gold
Vegas is having more of the type of season Columbus enjoyed one year ago. The Jackets' struggles this year is probably more along the lines of what you would have assumed for an expansion team like Vegas now. Last season's Jackets saw franchise first's — 50 wins, top-three finish, 108 points — spurring craaazy expectations, virtually unparalleled to any iteration of the team before.
Coming from that team that basically arrived at the party amid zero expectation.
Whenever there are playoff aspirations following an unlikely run, the team fizzles almost as suddenly. Talk about fool’s gold, the 15-1-1 run following 2014-15 may have spurred the trade for Brandon Saad, which otherwise, may not have led to grabbing Artemi Panarin so that worked out.
The 16-game winning streak stole the storyline and helped mask a 30th ranked power play Jan. 1 through the end of the season. After the streak, they were more-or-less a .500 team: 23-19-4 from Jan. 3rd-on.
Were they a great team last season? Eh. They showed the potential flashes. But, again, a ridiculous season amid no real expectations and suddenly they were the center of the NHL universe.
Going forward, the test continues, and it would be nice to see them showcase the same hunger that was prevalent from the start against the Devils, including the after-the-whistle grittiness, and keeping the foot on the gas into the second and third periods.
Reevaluate the "C"?
I mean, I think the official designation is a tad overrated. Like, some teams have a perfect captain. Some have more than one, and some teams are forced to put the “C” on someone. Roberto Luongo was the 2008 Canucks captain, officially or otherwise.
Nick Foligno is the captain of the Blue Jackets.
I don't doubt his leadership skills, and “C” or not, he can still carry that impact. But I also like how the team played before they officially named a new captain following Rick Nash’s departure. Maybe Foligno was, or is, weighed down by the title.
Just like Korpisalo is the future, I think Seth Jones is a future captain in this league.
These may be NHL 18 fixes but you get the idea. Let's see if the awaken offense keeps the trend this week, starting with the Islanders and the Maple Leafs on the end of the back-to-back Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tortorella's bunch has taken two of three against the Islanders, outscoring them 11-4 in the first two meetings, and both games so far against Toronto including the third period, down 2-0, comeback Jan. 8.