Five Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 CBJ Season

COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 04: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal during the game against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena on April 4, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 04: Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a goal during the game against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena on April 4, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
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Some records fall, but the team still falls short of a playoff berth.

Most importantly, I think the team’s season record 41 goals (Rick Nash, Cam Atkinson), is in serious danger. If Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau can formulate any kind of chemistry, it’s without doubt that Laine is capable of scoring 50 goals in this league. To boot, I think Gaudreau could be a contender for the team’s points record (87, Artemi Panarin), if things go well.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin’s 87 points in 2018-19 is the most ever by a Blue Jacket. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

Aside from that, if he can remain healthy, Zach Werenski seems primed to break the team’s scoring record by a defenseman (57, Seth Jones) at some point. If the power play clicks, I can see this being a real possibility as well. Read: 2022 Season Preview: Zach Werenski

Dare we say, the rookie scoring record is in danger also (48, Pierre-Luc Dubois)? Kirill Marchenko and Kent Johnson could both be highly productive rookies this year.

All that said, I still think this team is 1-2 years away from being a playoff contender. They lack top end centers, as well as depth and experience on the blue line. There are simply too many question marks: What if Marchenko, Johnson, Chinakhov and Sillinger all produce big? What if Laine and Gaudreau mesh? What if Merzlikins finds form as one of the top goalies in the league? What if the defense makes vast improvements?

Mar 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Patrik Laine (29) plays the puck from his knee in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Patrik Laine (29) plays the puck from his knee in the third period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports /

Sure, anything is possible … but for this team to make a run, all of those what ifs probably have to come true. If that happens, hand Brad Larsen the Jack Adams award ASAP.

More likely, this season gives GM Jarmo Kekalainen one last chance to evaluate and formulate the future core of this team. Which leads us to…