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

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Brandon Saad

Name: Brandon Saad, #20

Position: LW

Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Age: 23, born 10/274/92

Height/Weight: 6 ft 1 in/ 202 lbs

What he has going for him:

Lead the Jackets in goals (31) and tied with Cam Atkinson for team point leader (53). Oh, he also has already won two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks – at the age of 23. Looking at the Jackets ’15-’16 roster he was one of only two players to have a positive +/- rating and to have played in 40+ games last year (the other was Matt Calvert). With the amount of goals that were scored against the CBJ last year (248, second highest total in the NHL) that is nothing short of miraculous. He also has increased his goals total every year he has been in the league, this year will be no different.

What he has going against him:

Needs to have a much larger impact on the power play. Brandon Saad is probably the most exciting acquisition that the Jackets have made outside of the NHL draft. Every team needs somebody to be “the man” when it comes to offense. Brandon Saad, we need you to be our guy.

Prediction for this season:

Saad is a star and I do not think he has any risk outside of major injury in regards to regressing in his points total. I see him having a larger goal scoring presence on special teams and will add assists this year through much improved team play.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 39, Assists: 27, Total Points: 66

16-17 CBJ Player Profiles: Matt Calvert

Name: Matt Calvert, #11

Position: LW

Birthplace: Brandon, Manitoba

Age: 26, born 12/24/89

Height/Weight: 5 ft 11 in/ 192 lbs

What he has going for him:

Speed and a nose for the puck. Going into the ’16-’17 season Calvert will also be the longest tenured member of the Blue Jackets as both Jared Boll and Fedor Tyutin were bought out in the off-season. Matt has played in an average of 61 games per season over the course of the last three years and has had a consistent point total of 24 – 23 -24 over those seasons.

What he has going against him:

While Calvert’s speed has been an asset, there are times that he seems to lack control. This seems most apparent in his attempt to dump the puck into the zone and try to beat the defenders to the mark. There is no questioning his hustle, but can be a liability when it comes to keeping possession.

Prediction for this season:

I have a soft spot for Matt Calvert ever since he was the Blue Jacket that stepped up to fight Rick Nash after the Bobrovsky incident. There is no back down in Calvert or heart. I do not see any significant increase or decrease in his total stat line for the year.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 9, Assists: 12, Total Points: 21

16-17 CBJ Player Profile: David Savard

Name: David Savard, #58

Position: D

Birthplace: St. Hyacinthe, Quebec

Age: 25, born 10/22/90

Height/Weight: 6 ft 2 in/ 227 lbs

What he has going for him:

Savard has been incredibly dependable at getting the puck out of the CBJ zone without giving it back to the other team, something that the Jackets have consistently struggled with the last two years. He also was a stalwart penalty killer for the team, a role he most likely will reprise again this year.

What he has going against him:

The additions of Seth Jones last year and Zach Werenski this year most likely points to Savard shuffling between the second and third defensive pairing. I also cannot see him as a power play option given the increase in scoring ability that the club receives from some of our other defenders. Likely to see a decrease in overall ice time this year, but will still be a valuable part of the Jackets blue line.

Prediction for this season:

A solid defender on the Blue Jackets improved back end, but I do not see any increase in his main stat line this year.

’16-’17 Jackets Rant stat line prediction: Goals: 3, Assists: 18, Total Points: 21