January Stock Report
Volatility is the name of the game in Columbus right now.
We have reached a break in our trading period as the All-Star Game Weekend approaches. Like good investors, let us take a look back at the performance to date for this fiscal hockey season.
Much like the actual stock market, the CBJ market has been very volatile with some recent sell-offs. Have we finally reached rock bottom?
-The top pair, specifically Seth Jones. The Blue Jackets finally look like they have a legitimate top pair with Jones and Ryan Murray, and both are just entering their prime. Jones was acquired at the start of the month and has six points (all assists) in his last seven games. He is also a +7 in those games as well (full disclosure, he had no points and a -3 rating in his first three games in a Blue Jacket sweater). Beyond that, he is already living up to his billing as a #1 defenseman with fantastic possession numbers. He has logged over 22 minutes of ice time in every game for Columbus.
-Joonas Korpisalo. The Fin is quickly emerging as the goalie of the future for the franchise. He registered a .935 save % and 2.13 GAA in seven January appearances. In his six starts (he also had a relief appearance against Calgary), the team went 4-0-2. The only other game in January that the Jackets earned a point was the first game of the month when Anton Forsberg was in net for a 5-4 shootout win over Washington. Back to Korpisalo...he's upped his even-strength save % for the entire season up to .923. For comparison, Sergei Bobrovsky's career ES save % in the NHL is .927, and just .917 this season. Remember, Korpisalo started out with some rough games in December against the likes of Tampa Bay, Dallas, and Pittsburgh.
-The schedule. The Jackets finally got a bit of a break in January as they "only" played 12 games this past month.
-Puppies. Cam Atkinson made a girl's birthday when he scored a goal at home against Montreal. Cam proceeded to throw two more in for good measure. The 26-year old ended the month with a line of 6-3-9 and saw his ice time cross over the 20-minute mark on several occasions.
-Brandon Dubinsky. With Ryan Johansen moving to Nashville, Dubi stepped into the #1 center role. He responded with an 11-point month (5G, 6A). His TOI was consistently above 19 minutes a night.
-Craig Hartsburg is 2-0-1 as head coach this season.
-The youth movement. A lot of prospects and players under 23 are contributing in big ways and showing improvement. The team played ten guys (not counting Johansen) regularly who are under the age of 24. They managed to go 5-5-2 for the month without Bob and losing their #1 center in Johansen.
-Sergei Bobrovsky's groin. Bob played all of 89 minutes this month due to injury.
-The ice at Winter Park. At the very least, sell on this team being "healthy" this season. The man-games lost count is up over 200, and that's not counting the head coach missing the last few games with broken ribs.
-Cody Goloubef? The 26-year old defenseman returned from a broken jaw early in January, only to be a healthy scratch a few times. Can he lock down his spot as a regular on this team?
-The 3rd pair. Similar to above with Goloubef, but this team is searching now for a more consistent bottom pairing on the blue line. Jack Johnson has settled into the middle pair, presumably with David Savard when he returns from injury. The last couple spots are a mystery and have remained a rotation for most of the month. The team lost Kevin Connauton and Andrew Bodnarchuk on waivers, in part because of that rotation. Apparently, no one is stepping up and grabbing those spots.
-The vets remaining on the team. From the sounds of the rumor mill on trades, it is unlikely Scott Hartnell will finish the season with the CBJ. It is also possible that Fedor Tyutin may be departing before the deadline, and perhaps even Rene Bourque and Gregory Campbell if the team can find trade partners. As Jeff mentioned, the team needs to embrace its youth.
-Hugs. Hug count in January: zero.
Overall, it was an ok month marked by the blockbuster trade of Johansen for Jones. The Bobrovsky situation is disappointing, but Korpisalo is doing his best to earn an NHL job full-time. The blue line looks to be a strength going forward, save for those 5/6 spots. With the wins over the Canadiens, the team has pulled itself into a fierce battle for 30th place. That battle will continue on the other side of the All-Star break.