With Christmas right around the corner and the holiday season in full swing (your author is writing this while watching Home Alone 2), gifts and gift giving are front of mind for many. In the spirit of the holidays, let’s take a look at what we would give the Columbus Blue Jackets players if money and the limits of physics weren’t a thing.
What we would give him: two healthy shoulders
Werenski has, for the second time in his career, had major shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. He has now had reconstructive surgeries on both shoulders at just 25 years old. Werenski’s injury luck in his career has been absolutely terrible and for the Blue Jackets, losing their best defenseman has made a bad start to the season even worse. Thankfully, because of recovery time, Werenski should be ready to go at the start of training camp next year. But, if we could, we would give Werenski healthy shoulders this season.
What we would give him: improved puck luck
Gaudreau has been everything the Columbus Blue Jackets could have asked for in his time in Columbus - he is currently on pace to break franchise records for assists and points this year while averaging better than a point per game. Even still, he shooting his worst percentage since the 2019-20 season. With some improved shooting luck (or a better power play), Gaudreau could really take off in franchise scoring numbers.
What we would give him: more ice time
Kent Johnson, Blue Jackets rookie, is currently second on the team in even strength points per 60 minutes (trailing only Johnny Gaudreau). He’s currently at 2.154 points/60, just behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Filip Forsberg. Look at the company he is keeping (screenshot from QuantHockey):
Impressive, right? Now imagine if he got more than 12:57 per night. He’s already third on the team in scoring and does not look overwhelmed by the moment. This year is already a write off - play Kent Johnson more to try to foster his development.
What we would give him: consistency
This season has definitely been a sophomore slump for Sillinger. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie with 16 goals and 31 points, Sillinger has struggled in his second year with just two goals and five points in 28 games while seeing just 12:46 per night, less than he earned last year. His performance in every meaningful stat has decreased: faceoff percentage, shooting percentage (down from 10.8% to 5.3%), shot attempts, all are down. Some measure of consistency for Sillinger would do him wonders the rest of the way.
What we would give him: a reset button
This year has been, in a word, awful for Merzlikins. He has played 14 games (11 starts), and here are his stats: 4-8-0, .864 save percentage, 4.68 goals against, no shutouts, 9.1% quality start percentage, -16.7 goals saved above average. If anyone has ever needed a reset button this season, it’s Merzlikins. He may be playing behind a subpar NHL defense, but even so, his performance has been below what could be expected. Absolutely nothing has gone right for Merzlikins, and his frustration has shown through at various points. No one needs a reset button, a do-over, more than the newly inked CBJ netminder.
What would you give the Blue Jackets for Christmas this year? Let us know in the comments!