Columbus Blue Jackets: Forward production since trade deadline

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 15: Cam Atkinson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Florida Panthers on November 15, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 15: Cam Atkinson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Florida Panthers on November 15, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Since the trade deadline, what have the Columbus Blue Jackets done well? Not much. On paper, they look to be the best offense in team history though.

Let’s start with their “Identity line.” The Columbus Blue Jackets third line is amazing to watch skate and bash opposing players every game. I love their passion and bone crushing hits against the glass.

Josh Anderson is an absolute animal and makes that line what it is for the Blue Jackets.  Recently Anderson has had a lot of quality shots on net, I expect him to hit the mark again sooner than later. Nick Foligno leads that line and rightfully so and when he’s hitting hard, the whole line steps up a little more.  Foligno isn’t a points guy but he sure can control the game when he’s on the ice.

Then you come to Boone Jenner, who is an underrated and under valued player in my eyes. This entire line skates with an aggressive purpose that is a wrecking ball of pain and confusion for opposing teams. As a line they haven’t put up many points since the trade deadline but have helped set the tone by playing the body in recent games and especially in the Penguins games.

All three of them have two points each. Anderson leads the line with shots but is the only one without a goal. He also leads the line in hits with 24.

Columbus Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 26: Josh Anderson /

Moving onto their second line. Composed of Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and Oliver Bjorkstrand. This line was very shaky initially but with the cohesion between Duchene and Dzingel, and Bjorkstrand starting to get a feel for these guys it can turn into something productive and fun to watch.

On almost any other team Duchene is a first line center, on this team, due to messing with the flow of the offense, he’s a second liner with his former teammate in Ottawa. Duchene has spent the most time on the ice by far and has only two points to show for it and both of his assists are even strength assists.

Dzingel doesn’t have a goal yet as a Blue Jacket but has three helpers all coming at even strength. Bjorkstrand is the only second liner with a goal since the trade deadline. He has three, all coming at even strength, and with an average time on ice (ATOI) being 12:40. This line has the makeup to be very dangerous and with the skills that Duchene and Dzingel posses they can/are elevating Bjorkstrand’s game.

More from Union and Blue

The first line forwards for the Blue Jackets team are elite players through and through. Cam Atkinson is having a career year, Pierre-Luc Dubois (PLD) has shown serious improvement from last year, and Artemi Panarin could make this his second-best season of his career with a few more points.

PLD has been non-existent lately. One point since the trade deadline and it was an even strength assist, mind you he has roughly 30 less minutes on ice compared to Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin. Both Panarin and Atkinson have five points, Cam has four goals and a helper.

Two goals at even strength, one shorthanded, and one game winner. His helper was during a power play. Panarin has four helpers and one goal. His lone goal was at even strength, he has two assists at even strength and two during the power play.

This first line should start to turn things around here soon and as fans we’ll see a lot more from them as this playoff push needs to turn it up a notch for the long haul. Cam has been playing amazing lately and that might waver a tad but nothing serious.

Artemi will score more sooner than later but his assist contribution should stay right where it is. PLD will fit into the mix as he does, a couple points here, or a streak of points there. Bottom line, I wouldn’t worry about these top three lines for the Blue Jackets anytime soon, assuming they make the playoffs and make a run at the cup.

Columbus Blue Jackets
DETROIT, MI – NOVEMBER 26: Artemi Panarin #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets pounds gloves with teammate Nick Foligno #71 on the bench following his first period goal during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on November 26, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Now this fourth line, however, needs some consistency. This fourth line seems to change a little every week. Brandon Dubinsky, Riley Nash, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak, and Eric Robinson. I think if Sedlak wants to keep a spot on this team, he needs to go play in Cleveland some more. I’m not impressed with anything I’ve seen from him since 2016-2017 season. He either needs help finding himself or he needs help with more ice time which he will surely get in Cleveland. Riley Nash, he had a career year last year, and that’s not saying much. I look at his stats and see utter failure and disappointment.

Columbus Blue Jackets
NASHVILLE, TN – APRIL 7: Eric Robinson #50 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on April 7, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Ronald C. Modra /NHL/ Getty Images) /

Eric Robinson, this kid should get more ice time, whether it up in Cleveland or in Columbus he needs to be on the ice to continue to improve his game. When he was called up in early January, he already had 24 points for Cleveland and currently sits at 8th points wise on a team he hasn’t played on in literally months.

That’s impressive and demands ice time. Robinson should get all of Nash’s ice time and leave it at that and run that course for the rest of the season. Robinson looks for hits and isn’t afraid to sit in front of the net. Give him ice time.
Brandon Dubinsky, he’s overpaid, we all agree on that. His production has steadily declined for years. His game fits that of a fourth liner now and they’re still low for that. I would like to see him get traded eventually to save that cap space but until that day he needs to play the body even more than what he is and keep opposing teams on their toes when his line is on the ice. Hit, hit, and hit some more should be his lines motto.
Markus Hannikainen, if there is one thing that he does well it is play the body and keep his motor going. He shows the effort and wants to keep the guys going when they’re struggling but that’s hard to do on the fourth line when you barely play due to injury or because Riley Nash has 18 more games with one less point and eight less hits this year.

Bottom line is Hannikainen needs more ice time in order to develop some more unless you plan on using him to play the body every night in which case, he would make for an excellent third liner or “Identity line” guy eventually or a fourth liner on any other team.