With Christmas rapidly approaching (this is a reminder, you procrastinators), the Jackets have plenty of things to wish for. After all, they currently sit 30th in the NHL, and seem to be going the wrong way. Today we’ll take a look at a few things the team may wish for this season, to make future seasons more meaningful.
Dear Santa: A little bit of lottery luck…
The Jackets sit at the bottom of the standings for a variety of reasons, but many of those question marks have answers within the system. The most glaring need for the Blue Jackets, however, is a top line center.
One can make the argument that Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, or even Luca del bel Belluz could develop into that role over time, and they might. But neither of the latter two have the kind of offensive ceiling to call them a legit top line center. And Johnson, while supremely talented, is just starting to wade into the position for the first time since junior hockey.
Enter the 2023 NHL Draft. I may sound like a used car salesman here, but any number of these guys should do the trick. Whether it’s Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, or even Will Smith; there are top line centers to be had this summer. The Jackets just need to play out the suffrage of this season, and hope for a high pick.
Having picked first overall just once in our history – a pick they traded up for, no less – it seems like we deserve it. Johnny Gaudreau signed here last summer. Zach Werenski, Patrik Laine … maybe this is a sign that the curse of this franchise is nearing its end. Surely, this has to be our year, right?
Stocking stuffer: Can we fit a 2c…
Lest we forget about the second line. Look, Jack Roslovic is fine in this role as a stop-gap, but does anybody see this team contending for a playoff spot – let alone a Cup – with him in this spot? It’s hard to see it happening.
In my opinion, this is where Kent Johnson or Cole Sillinger could slot in over time. But, it’s time to see the team progressing in one direction or the other here. Now that Kent has moved to center with Boone Jenner out, lets keep him there and develop his game in that role. He’s looked really good, even scoring in each of the last two games.
Or, let’s give Cole a shot at a more offensive role. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him so far, but he still sees bottom-six minutes and virtually no power-play time. With the season already well out of reach, it seems like the right time to experiment with the roster and see what we have for the future. He’s been struggling this year, would a run at things in a more offensive role help him out of his funk? Is he going to be a second line center or not?