The Roster: Opening Night

Here we go, a little over 24 hours until the Jackets take home ice. Here is the roster for opening night, with projected pairings as per Rob Mixer.

Roster:

Forwards: Josh Anderson, Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Matt Calvert, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Sam Gagner, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, William Karlsson, Brandon Saad, Lukas Sedlak, Alexander Wennberg*

Defense: Scott Harrington, Jack Johnson, Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, Dalton Prout, David Savard, Zach Werenski

Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis McElhinney

*Assumes Pierre-Luc Dubois is sent back to juniors and Wennberg is recalled from the cap saving move.

Opening Night Projected Lines:

Jenner-Dubinsky-Atkinson
Saad-Gagner, Filigno
Hartnell-Wennberg-Bjorkstrand
Calvert-Karlsson-Anderson

D-Pairings Projections:

Werenski-Jones
Murray-SavardJohnson-Nutivaara

 

16-17 CBJ Preview – Three for and three against CBJ success this year

We are making the playoffs this year. There, I said it. As a longtime fan of the team am I biased? You’re damn right I am. But, I think that a closer look at the (almost) complete roster and you might see why I am seeing sunshine in our schedule rather than the biblical level of downpour we endured last year. I will do my best not to rehash what I have already written in the player profiles that have been posted already (read them!), but some redundancy is unfortunately inevitable.

Before jumping into the season outlook, a note about the national coverage of the CBJ. There isn’t any. What limited coverage we receive typically is regarding a “your season’s over, time to start selling off players to playoff contenders” . I don’t fault any of them for it. Before last season we started to get a little taste of coverage from the likes of Pierre LeBrun and Greg Wyshynski, but that was quickly dashed when we fell down without ever getting out of our starting gate. I bring this up for one reason: because we get little to no coverage many of the pundits are predicting for us to finish in the bottom two of the metropolitan division based on what appears to be last season and no new significant player pieces. I don’t think they are correct. We finish third in the metro or take a wildcard spot this year. Bank on it.

Three things that catapult us to the playoffs:

  • Jenny Craig. I don’t actually believe any of the squad has run out and joined weight watchers, but all of Torts talks about the team being out of shape clearly resonated with the players. Dalton Prout is reported to have lost 11 lbs. Bobrovsky apparently went on a voluntary hunger strike and shed 17 lbs(!) as he believed it would increase his flexibility and help keep those groin issues at bay. Based on reports coming from the Dispatch team, it appears many came into camp this year a lot more play ready than in years past. Was it simply the threat of Torts grueling camp schedule or was their some locker room leadership regarding off-season activities? Who cares, this is a significant improvement based on reports from the last three years.
  • That blue line. Youth springs eternal on our blue line, but of greater import is the fact that we now possess a defensive core that has the ability to competently move the puck. Yes, they all need to further develop, but I think this lineup puts us ahead of the curve when it comes to adjusting to the new speed and possession style that appears to be overtaking the NHL. Werenski has the potential to really shine on the power play and I am truly excited to see what influence Brad Shaw has on our penalty kill after building the Blues into a PK machine the last two years. Outside of Gagner, Brad Shaw may be the biggest addition of the off-season.
  • The Hartnell decision to stay. I may be over-emphasizing this, but I don’t take it as a small thing that Hartnell decided to pull his approved team list and stay in Columbus. This guy has been around the NHL for a longtime and I cannot believe he would want to spend his last few seasons as an NHLer with a team that he didn’t believe has a real shot at winning.

Three things that lead to me buying makers mark by the case:

  • Bobrovsky’s health. It’s hard not to be excited about the showing Bob had at the world cup of hockey. There is not a doubt that our season most likely goes along with Bob’s save percentage. The top of the metropolitan division contains two teams (Pens, Caps) that are going to pepper the net early and often. While we have some quality youth coming up between the pipes, if Bob goes down again – or starts in the same manner that he did last season, give me a makers single ice cube and a labatt chaser. Hell, just put them in the same glass, I will make it work.
  • Offensive hesitancy. In order to score, you must shoot the puck. While Wennberg’s tendency to pass rather than shoot has been well documented, the truth is looking for the perfect play has gotten in the way of making really good plays for years on the Jackets offensive end. We finished 21 in the NHL in average shots on goal per game (29.1). Again, Brad Shaw is a big coaching addition that helps us to limit the shots against per game (we had the 4th highest average), but to win you have to put shots on frame and capitalize on some of those rebounds.
  • Lack of line chemistry. With last season in the bag, it seemed the lines were changing not by the game, but by the minute. Maybe Torts garnered some information about player skill sets that help us going into 16-17, but if we immediately go back into the cycle of having to change lines on the fly to try to generate offense it will be a red flag in my book. By no means am I saying set the lines and live with them until the end of the season, but chemistry is developed over time and there has to be some patience in letting our leaders in the locker room lead on the ice.

Here we go, this Thursday is the first game of the regular season. Bring on the Bruins, bring on the cannon, and bring on a season that proves many national pundits wrong.

16-17 CBJ Preview: The Metropolitan Division

I keep looking at the teams in our division and sighing. The Capitals and Penguins are again in line to be the toast of the metropolitan division. Playoff record aside, the Washington Capitals look like they could follow up a 120 point regular season with a very similar result. The Penguins really came together at the end of last year with a speed style of play that is/will become the standard in the NHL. Your bruisers can’t do any bruising if they can’t catch the opposing players.

I don’t think it shocks anyone to say that I think the idea of winning the Metropolitan Division is out of reach for the CBJ. Too much talent on the top end teams. I do however, against many of the national pundits, think that a wildcard spot is well within reach and we have a good chance of finishing third in the Metro division. Last year the teams who took the Eastern Wildcard playoff spots (Islanders, Flyers) made it with a season point totals of 100 (Islanders) and 96 (Flyers). I think the Blue Jackets will be firmly in (or above) this hunt (also I will surmise why I believe that to be in the case in my CBJ Team Preview – posting tomorrow).

I believe Carolina is most likely to be in line for a lottery selection in next year’s draft and that Philadelphia’s surprise playoff birth last year is followed by a whole lot of misery in the city of brotherly love. Ranger’s strong net play (Lundqvist) keep them in a lot of games and a wildcard threat. Islanders average team age of 28.8 starts to become a liability and  Okposo’s departure is not adequately filled by a 30+ old Andrew Ladd. Islanders miss the playoffs. Devils punch above their weight, but not enough to be a post-season threat.

My prediction for end of season standings of the Metropolitan Division:

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. Columbus Blue Jackets
  4. New York Rangers
  5. New Jersey Devils
  6. New York Islanders
  7. Philadelphia Flyers
  8. Carolina Hurricanes

 

16-17 CBJ Preview: Show Me The Money

As you may have heard, the Blue Jackets are not going to have a whole lot of breathing room to stay under the salary cap which is expected to be around 73 million for the season. Rather than regale you with my limited knowledge of the intricacies of how each of our players contracts affects the cap, I thought I would show you what everybody is getting paid this year. If you really want to dive into it, I strongly suggest checking out CapFriendly.com. Below are only players currently on the CBJ roster (plus Werenski, he will be on the roster), so 3-4 more will be added prior to the opener – most likely all on entry level deals as no PTO’s (Professional Try Out) are currently projected to make the team.

Symbol Glossary:

* = Entry Level Contract

◊ = No Movement Clause

♠ = Two-way Contract

Forwards :

  • Brandon Saad
    • $5,750,000/ UFA in ’21-’22
  • Brandon Dubinsky (◊)
    • $5,850,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • Nick Foligno (◊)
    • $5,500,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • David Clarkson (◊)
    • $7,000,000/UFA in ’20-’21 (or two eternities from now)
  • Scott Hartnell (◊)
    • $5,000,000/UFA in ’19-’20
  • Cam Atkinson
    • $3,500,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Boone Jenner
    • $2,900,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Matt Calvert
    • $2,200,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Gregory Campbell
    • $1,300,000/UFA in ’17-’18
  • William Karlsson (♠)
    • $1,000,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Alexander Wennberg (*♠) [waivers exempt]
    • $925,000/RFA in ’17-’18
  • Sam Gagner
    • $625,000/UFA in ’17-’18

Defense:

  • Seth Jones
    • $5,400,000/UFA in ’22-’23
  • Jack Johnson
    • $5,000,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • David Savard
    • $3,500,000/UFA in ’21-’22
  • Ryan Murray
    • $2,825,000/RFA in ’18-’19
  • Dalton Prout
    • $1,250,000/UFA in ’18-’19
  • Cody Goloubef
    • $800,000/UFA in ’17-’18
  • Zach Werenski (*♠)
    • $925,000/RFA in ’19-’20

Goalies:

  • Sergei Bobrovsky
    • $8,500,000/UFA in ’19-’20
  • Curtis McElhinney
    • $800,000/UFA in ’17-’18