Columbus Blue Jackets: Is 11 Forwards and 7 Defensemen the Best Option?

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 7: Miikka Salomaki
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 7: Miikka Salomaki /

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a difficult position, as their two best defensemen are both known for joining the rush; that can lead to some questionable defensive decisions. Would scratching an extra forward for another defenseman be a possible way to address that issue?

John Tortorella tried out a new strategy for the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators when he scratched his 12th forward for a 7th defenseman. This type of strategy isn’t commonly used, however it isn’t unheard of in the NHL. The Blue Jackets defense is arguably the strongest part of the team, only potentially bested by the goaltending, but there’s even some questions in the backup goaltending spot.

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The biggest issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets on the blue line is the offensive nature of a majority of the team’s defensemen. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones are undoubtedly offensive defensemen, which leaves some issues in their defensive play. Markus Nutivaara, Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson are all effectively two-way defensemen, with a slight edge for each of them going toward the offensive style of play. David Savard is a defensive two-way defenseman, and finally the only true “shut-down” defenseman on the Blue Jackets roster would be Gabriel Carlsson.

Carlsson has sat on the bench a majority of the season, in part due to injury,  but the others are all having at least decent seasons; Carlsson’s relative inexperience leaves him as the odd man out of a six man defense. With Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert out due to injury, it leaves some holes on the forward lines which have yet to be filled–mainly due to the fact any potential substitutes have failed to impress.

Having that many offensive-minded guys can certainly lead to an increase in scoring, but at the same time it can turn disastrous if someone gets caught out of position. Keeping Carlsson in the lineup could address that issue if he were to take some shifts with either Werenski or Jones while they join the rush, however it seems unlikely that Tortorella will ever split them.

The first test of this new system failed, however it wasn’t due to a lack of trying. The Columbus Blue Jackets played well against the Predators; it’s impossible to win every game even when you play your hardest. Should the Blue Jackets stick with the new seven defensemen system? Only time will be able to tell.