Pushing the chips into the center can go one of two ways, and for the Columbus Blue Jackets and GM Jarmo Kekalainen, their gamble came up empty. While the Blue Jackets were able to knock out the Tampa Bay Lightning, their playoff run did not end in them hoisting the cup. While the silverware cabinet sits empty; the dressing room and cupboard of draft picks are also limited thanks to the team trading away their second and third-round pick in 2020 and a second in 2021.
First Key Game: 10/7/2019 vs. the Buffalo Sabres.
This game will be pivotal as both teams will be relying on a youth movement to improve in the future.
Odds to win the division
25:1 (8th overall) (via Betway)
Is this a bet worth taking?
While longshots are normally a good way to win large amounts of money, I would stay away from this one. The Blue Jackets will have a mountain to climb in the division and to preview the story to watch for the Jackets, Joonas Korpisalo this is your moment.
Keys To The Season
Story to watch
Which goalie will own the crease for Columbus? After seeing Sergei Bobrovsky walk out the door and head to the Florida Panthers, the Jackets will have a real goalie battle for the first time since “Bob” signed with Columbus in 2013-2014. This competition currently includes Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins. While Korpisalo is the more proven of the two netminders another goalie could be brought with some of the cap space they will have once they reach a deal with RFA Zach Werenski.
Player to watch
With Artemi Panarin leaving from the top six the Blue Jackets will need new signing Gustav Nyquist to step up. While I am not anticipating Nyquist to fill the net with pucks the same way Panarin did, The Goose has reached the 20 goal plateau in four of his nine NHL seasons. The Blue Jackets will need Nyquist to tap into that goal-scoring ability and be a force on both ends of the ice.
Starting goalie. There is a saying that goes “if you have two starting goalies you have none,” while some teams have tried a tandem approach (most recently the Dallas Stars). My leader in the clubhouse for the starting job would be Joonas Korpisalo, he has played 90 NHL games and is sitting at a .907 save percentage in that time.
With John Tortorella coaching the Blue Jackets and his history of demanding backchecking and defense it should force low percentage shots from opposition. If Korpisalo or Merzlikins are not able to hold the net, I would not be shocked to see Kekalainen make another move for a starter.
If the Columbus Blue Jackets were an animal, what would they be?
Nurse shark. While the nurse shark is perceived as a “friendly” shark the same way, the Columbus Blue Jackets are seen as rebuilding when provoked they have a vicious bite, which for the Blue Jackets could come in the form of Kekalainen making a move behind the bench or to fortify the team.