Phenomenal year so far for the Blue Jackets at one point winning 16 straight games. They are led by fiery former Lighting and Rangers’ coach John Tortorella. Torts has transformed Columbus year over year to one of the best teams in the league. Columbus sports a +44 goal differential while ranking 5th in both goals per game and goals against. The Jackets, have slowed down since that historic winning streak but nonetheless are a dangerous team. Many people thought this would be more of a rebuilding year than the massive success it has been.
Up front Columbus is led by underrated Cam Atkinson with 27 goals and 50 points. Brandon Saad and Nick Foligno have both been great this year. Sam Gagner has been a great addition and will be getting paid this off season. Alex Wennberg has been great up the middle and even though is only 22 years old has been a staple of the top 6.
The strength of the defense is based on youth. Seth Jones (22), acquired last year, and Zach Werenski (19) have transformed the defense to one of the best in the league. Jack Johnson and David Savard soak up minutes with solid defensive play.
In net is Sergei Bobrovski who is probably the favorite for the Vezina right now. Bob is 31-13-3 with a 2.21 GAA and ..925 save %. He hasn’t played as well in February (2.73 GAA and .909 sv% in 8 games) but I believe that to be more of a small sample size than a change in performance.
Draft Assets:Columbus owns all their picks for the next three years, giving ample firing power at the deadline. Columbus has enough deadline cap space ($8.2MM, $13MM w/ LTIR)
The Jackets are in a good position right now. They are playing well, have Saad, Foligno, and Jones locked up for the long term.
If anything I could see them trying to add a center or winger like Eaves. Eaves gives a little more punch and firepower on a team that could use it in their bottom 6. I doubt that Columbus brings in someone like Vanek.
The Jackets’ defense and goaltender have played very well so far this year. I do not foresee Columbus going after a top 4 d-man but maybe a depth defenseman similar to the move Pittsburgh just made. This team is playing well and is on the upswing. Columbus has a young core locked up and even if they don’t make the SCF this year they should be a threat for the next five years. Seth Jones is a future Norris candidate and Werenski will be a perennial top pairing defenseman, a pretty good base to build around.