2022-23 Player Review: Jake Christiansen - better than you think?
Yeah, it surprised me, too
At first I struggled to find a hook for this piece. Jake Christiansen: he's just a guy, right? Played 24 games here, but so did 24 others. It was just that kind of season, you know?
I remembered that he was called up for the first time in November, after injuries to Zach Werenski and Jake Bean. Christiansen got paired with Erik Gudbranson, and it went quite poorly. Later, when he got to play with others, his play improved noticeably.
Well, it turns out that his underlying numbers stack up well to his teammates, even in a season where no one on defense excelled. Among the 9 defensemen who played at least 300 minutes at 5v5, Christiansen was the most effective at preventing shot attempts and expected goals against.
He benefited from a more offensive deployment, so I think that shows he can fill a role once he gets proper defensive coaching, something lacking in Columbus for the last two seasons. In Cleveland this season, he had the second most points among defensemen, with 11/23/34 in 50 games.
There will be a battle in camp for the left side of the third pair, and Christiansen should be in the thick of it.
5v5 CF%: 46.3
5v5 FF%: 45.2
Can you believe it's been 3 years since Christiansen was signed? Or is it weird it's only been 3 years? He was signed back on March 4, 2020, i.e. right before Everything Went to Hell. His ELC has expired, so he is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. He is still waiver exempt for 40 more NHL games, so I expect another two-way deal.
On December 20 in Philadelphia, the Jackets lost 5-3, but Christiansen had a +3 rating and an assist.
Getting sent back to Cleveland in December. His first attempt to stick in the lineup didn't last, while Tim Berni was able to take his place.
Definitely not the best player on the roster, but also certainly not the worst. He showed improvement in his return to Columbus in March, which suggests there's room for more improvement next season.