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After an awful start for the Columbus Blue Jackets, which players are actually performing well?

Is anyone on this team actually playing well to start this season?

2022 NHL Global Series - Finland - Columbus Blue Jackets v Colorado Avalanche Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been bad to start this season, there’s no sugar coating it. But even in abject disaster, surely there are some bright spots, right? Today, we will attempt to find those bright spots to focus on early in this dismal Blue Jackets season.

Let’s get started. This might be a short exercise.

Kent Johnson

Kent Johnson is having an outstanding start to the season. Kent Johnson is currently:

  • 6th on the team in CF%
  • 1st on the team in goals for percentage
  • 6th on the team in scoring chances for percentage
  • tied-second as of this writing in points
  • second as of this writing in goals scored

Yet, somehow, he is 23rd among players who have taken the ice for this team in time on ice per night (according to hockey-reference), ahead of only Eric Robinson, Liam Foudy, and Mathieu Olivier. Kent Johnson is unquestionably one of the most talented six forwards on this roster, and is playing like one of the top six. He should either get commensurate minutes, or he should be in Cleveland - far away from this sinking ship, where he can play center and develop for when this team is ready, much like Oliver Bjorkstrand did once upon a time (minus the whole playing center bit).

Seriously, there’s no reason not to try Kent Johnson with Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine at this point. It looked good in the preseason, and having a skilled player as their pivot instead of a boat anchor might allow for some extra room in the offensive zone. The coaching staff can’t really complain about their defense either, since no one on this team is playing it anyway. At least with that line we could have a chance at scoring more goals.

Johnny Gaudreau

Gaudreau has been all that fans expected since arriving in Columbus. He currently:

  • leads the team in goals
  • is tied for second on the team in assists
  • leads the team in points
  • is tied for the lead in high danger chances for
  • is third in high danger goals for

Gaudreau is one of the few Blue Jackets playing consistently well in the offensive zone. He’s not scoring at rates we’ve seen previously, for two reasons:

  1. The team is offense is abysmal right now, and opponents are keying on Gaudreau
  2. Gaudreau is shooting his worst percentage since 2019-20 and the 4th worst percentage of his career so far

Gaudreau is every bit the offensive force the Blue Jackets knew they were getting. Eventually, the bounces will come his way. If he can get any support whatsoever from a center or some linemates, watch for Gaudreau to really take off.

Zach Werenski

Werenski is quietly having a pretty good season for a team whose defense is terrible. Werenski

  • is fourth on the team in CF%, one of four players above 50%
  • 6th on the team in shots for percentage, one of only 6 players above 50%
  • 4th on the team in xGF% at 5v5, one of only two defensemen and 6 players overall above 50%
  • 3rd on the team in high danger chances for percentage
  • 5th on the team in scoring chances for percentage
  • tied for third on the team in goals
  • tied for second on the team in assists
  • tied for second on the team in points

(actually, if you look at underlying numbers, Adam Boqvist is having a good season too in sheltered deployment, but he’s made of glass)

Werenski is quietly having a decent season on team whose blue line has been arguably the worst in the league. At even strength, where the Blue Jackets are routinely getting caved in by every team they face, Werenski is holding his own in expected goals, scoring attempts, high danger chances, and is producing points for a team that is struggling to put the puck in the net.

Given the context of this season, that’s an outstanding season for the defenseman.

Who has impressed you this season? Sound off in the comments!