16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Sergei Bobrovsky

Name: Sergei Bobrovsky, #72

Position: G

Birthplace: Novokuznetsk, Russia

Age: 28, born 9/20/88

Height/Weight: 6 ft 2 in/ 199 lbs

What he has going for him:

A great showing in the World Cup of Hockey. Between the pipes for Russia, Bobrovsky posted a 2.53 goals against average and a save percentage of .930 over the course of four games. Obviously this is a small sample size, but it is promising.

What he has going against him:

Risk of injury. Bobrovsky may have the most tracked groin of any professional athlete in the country. After an abysmal start to last year, his groin injury sidelined him for the majority of the season. The former Vezina winner is the keystone to the Blue Jackets success and has to overcome shaky confidence from last year in order for the CBJ to have a shot at the postseason. Being the second highest paid goaltender in the NHL (behind Lundqvist of the New York Rangers) brings with it the pressure to live up to that lofty paycheck.

Prediction for this season:

Bobrovsky bounces back. With a couple of youngsters trying to make their mark and Curtis McElhinney working to keep his back up position, there will be fierce competition behind Bob. With the team expectation from all of those outside of Columbus being low, Bobrovsky returns to old form.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: GAA: 2.34, Save Percentage: .925, Shut Outs: 4

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Brandon Dubinsky

Name: Brandon Dubinsky, #17

Position: C

Birthplace: Anchorage, Alaska

Age: 30, born 4/29/86

Height/Weight: 6 ft 2 in/ 216 lbs

What he has going for him:

Faceoff wins. On a team that has struggles in the circle, Dubinsky leads the team with a 52.6% win percentage for Jackets taking more than 150 faceoffs last season. He also lead the team in hits with 235, not bad for a center who almost matched his career high 54 points ending last year with 48. He is the emotional center of the Blue Jackets, wears his heart on his sleeve, and regularly sets the tone with his physical brand of play.

What he has going against him:

For every up their is a down, and while Dubinsky’s emotional playing style is mostly a positive – his penalties (71 PIM last year) at inopportune times were costly in more than a handful of close games. His -16 rating last year tied him with Jack Johnson for the worst +/- on the roster.

Prediction for this season:

Dubinsky is a big part of the core of this team and he has been integral on both the power play and penalty killing units. The Blue Jackets should improve in puck possession this year, especially coming out of our zone. I think this year Dubinsky could eclipse his career high in points if he is able to stay healthy.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 21, Assists: 34, Total Points: 55

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Jack Johnson

Name: Jack Johnson, #7

Position: D

Birthplace: Indianapolis, Indiana

Age: 29, born 1/13/87

Height/Weight: 6 ft 1 in/ 230 lbs

What he has going for him:

Reduced ice time. This may seem like a negative, but it is not. Johnson is an effective defender, but at times last year seemed gassed during the normal course of play. He most likely is also going to be tapped to help bring along rookie defender Zach Werenski, though I believe Werenski will eventually land in the second pairing with David Savard. On a young blue line, Johnson is the veteran leader – even if it is in a diminished role this year.

What he has going against him:

Wants to be an offensive threat so badly that he sometimes forces play getting himself woefully out of position. While I think this will be reduced this year again this year (dropped from 141 to 86 shots over the last two seasons) it will mostly be a reflection of him playing in one of the bottom two pairings for the majority of the season. Hits from Johnson have also dropped drastically in the last two years (157 to 98, though he did play 19 less games last season).

Prediction for this season:

Johnson will be a defensive role player for the Jackets this year and is a decent puck handler on a blue line that has struggled with possession. Signed through ’17-’18, I have to believe this is Johnson’s last contact with the CBJ.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 5, Assists: 10, Total Points: 15

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Zach Werenski

Name: Zach Werenski, #8

Position: D

Birthplace: Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Age: 19, born 7/19/97

Height/Weight: 6 ft 2 in/ 206 lbs

What he has going for him:

The eighth overall pick in last year’s draft, expectations for Werenski are high after helping the minor league affiliate Lake Erie Monsters (now Cleveland Monsters) win the Calder Cup scoring 5 goals and racking up 9 assists in 17 playoff games. Skilled at moving the puck, while also possessing a shot that could be very valuable to the CBJ power play, Werenski brings a skill set that could help fix the possession issues the team had in bringing the puck out of its own zone last year. He fits nicely with our young top line and should be paired with either Savard or Johnson as he starts skating in the NHL.

What he has going against him:

Expectation. His AHL playoff stats are great, but in the seven regular season games that he joined the monsters for he tallied 1 goal and no assists, though his +/- was +2. This could simply have been acclimation and perhaps only looking at his offensive prowess is unfair (he is a defenseman after-all), but these are the statistics I had to work with. In a city that is desperate for a winning hockey team, every young potential star has the weight of being viewed as the next coming. Hopefully that weight does not stymie what looks to be a promising addition.

Prediction for this season:

Werenski is going to have a chance to show his stuff starting with opening night. I have high hopes for the defenseman and believe with Bobrovsky’s improved play our defense is going to surprise many around the league.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 8, Assists: 12, Total Points: 20

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Scott Hartnell

Name: Scott Hartnell, #43

Position: LW

Birthplace: Regina, Saskatchewan

Age: 34, born 4/18/82

Height/Weight: 6 ft 2 in/ 214 lbs

What he has going for him:

Scott Hartnell is the definition of a hockey player in my book. He has only missed 12 games over the last three seasons, used to one of the best mullets in hockey, gets under the skin of almost every team he plays, and brings a veteran locker room presence to a young team that sorely needs it. He lead the CBJ in power play goals last year (10)and tied with Boone Jenner for third in points (49) on the team. I had not intended to do a profile for Hartsy as I was wholly convinced he was going to be traded after it was reported that he had provided an approved trade list at the management’s request. I for one am excited he will be back and take it as a vote of confidence that he believes this team has what it takes to reach the playoffs.

What he has going against him:

While I adore his pick-at-you style, last year Hartnell’s penalty minutes became a liability (110). So much so, that he was a healthy scratch at one point as punishment from coach Tortorella. I know that our season was in the bag well before the midway point, but my other dig on Hartnell is that he clearly took time off plays while on the ice (though as noted above, he came alive on power plays). I am hoping that was a result of a poor season and not a sign of diminished conditioning due to age.

Prediction for this season:

Hartnell gets goals in two ways: streaks and grinding away in the center. I don’t think that changes this year. On a team that I think will be drastically improved from last year, I think Hartnell has another solid year on the wing for the Jackets.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 28, Assists: 31, Total Points: 59

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Dalton Prout

Name: Dalton Prout, #47

Position: D

Birthplace: Kingsville, ON

Age: 26, born 3/13/90

Height/Weight: 6 ft 3 in/ 230 lbs

What he has going for him:

His right hand. Prout is a big, physical defender who you don’t want to drop the gloves with. In the last two years Prout has totaled 305 hits (139 last season) and 154 blocked shots (70 last season). He was resigned by the Blue Jackets through ’17-’18 in March 2016.

What he has going against him:

Has struggled at times getting the puck out of the zone and has handed the puck to the opposing team in scoring position on more than a few occasions. With the blue line of the Jackets improving through draft and acquisitions, Prout will most likely find himself on the bottom pairing and occasionally a healthy scratch if he has a turnover streak rear its ugly head.

Prediction for this season:

Prout and players of his ilk, have somewhat become throwback hockey players. Roster spots cannot be afforded to enforcers that cannot play at a high level. That being said, Columbus loves our tough guys. Prout will bring his physicality to the ice, albeit in a limited ice time.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 2, Assists: 4, Total Points: 6

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Sam Gagner

Name: Sam Gagner, #89

Position: C

Birthplace: London, ON

Age: 27, born 8/10/89

Height/Weight: 5 ft 11 in/ 202 lbs

What he has going for him:

A fresh start with a new club. The sixth overall pick in the 2007 entry draft has played with both the Edmonton Oilers (drafted), Arizona (one year), and Philadelphia (last season). Last year he spent time out with a concussion, time in the AHL, but was able to come back and contribute to the Flyers in the playoffs. He has averaged 35 points over the last five season and averaged 64 games played over that same period. Perhaps the steal of the summer at the $650,000 price tag, the Blue Jackets need centers and Gagner needed a place to reboot his career. This may be a match made in heaven.

What he has going against him:

Gagner has not been especially strong in the face-off circle throughout his career. It’s an area the Blue Jackets are looking to improve this year, which means Gagner is going to have to be better than years past. You have to like his chances of success on the CBJ, but make no mistake, if he cannot make use of the skills that made him a first round pick – Columbus will be the last stop of his NHL career.

Prediction for this season:

I love a good underdog story. Gagner had the opportunity over the summer to sign with other clubs for a potentially larger pay, but chose the Jackets as his best opportunity for success. I see him being a playmaker for Columbus and I think he will be happy to have joined a team that will see him back above the 40 point mark for the season.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 12, Assists: 34, Total Points: 46