Columbus Blue Jackets Look for Seventh D with Return of Murray

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 12: Scott Harrington
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 12: Scott Harrington /

After the Columbus Blue Jackets “game” against the Edmonton Oilers, it is kind of hard to narrow the issues down to one person or group of people.

I have heard people say that the veteran core is completely missing from the game. I definitely agree with this but the veterans aren’t even the majority on the Columbus Blue Jackets anymore so that can’t be the only issue.

We have set up our team to rely on the young and there is a lot of youth in every position that is not playing at the top of their game. The spot that I have noticed the youth struggling most is in the third defensive pairings while we are fighting through some injuries.

I figured since I noticed that gap that I would take a minute and compare two defenseman that are fighting for a “permanent” spot on the team. I want to take a look at Scott Harrington and Gabriel Carlsson.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

There was a lot of hype around Carlsson making it to the NHL this year after camp but he has been up and down between the Blue Jackets and the Monsters several times. As injuries have come and gone he has filled in but I find that I am most nervous when he is on the ice.

At this point in time it just doesn’t seem like he skates with confidence and when he makes a call it is a decision that I immediately question in most cases. So far this year he has logged in ten games but he has managed to get a -2 rating during those ten games. Even with Johnson and Savard playing like they have recently, I have a hard time seeing a spot for Carlsson at this time. At 20 years old he can see another year or two in the AHL and come out a much better player.

Scott Harrington, on the other hand, is almost 25 and has spent some time with the AHL team. While his ice time is almost identical to Carlsson he has managed to keep his +/- at 0 in nine games. When he is on the ice I feel about as comfortable as I do with the Johnson/Savard line this year and that isn’t saying much.

All said and done, I think that Harrington will be our seventh defenseman after Murray gets back. I will feel comfortable knowing that he is there to take Savard or Johnson out of the lineup if they can’t find their game. If Murray comes back and plays like he did before he left then I would say a new second line is on the bench and the Savard line will be the new third.

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With Johnson and Savard playing on the third line it makes it easy to move one of them out and slide Harrington back in as needed. Hopefully this pressure from Harrington can bring back the magic that we had last year with that line.