This week’s Friday Feature has us making statistical predictions for every player we think will make the Columbus Blue Jacket roster this fall.
I’m not usually one to make points predictions – especially since training camp doesn’t even start for a couple of weeks. But, it seems like a good time to put together an “educated guess” and take a crack at it this year. After all, there hasn’t been much news with the club since the team hired Mike Babcock all the way back on July 1st. He’ll be at the helm of arguably the most talented roster this franchise has ever had this season, and while we’re tempering our expectations and not ready to call this a playoff team yet (they’re really young); it’s an exciting time for Central Ohio hockey fans.
In this article, we’re basing our predictions off of a couple of things. First, we’re starting at the top of the lineup and working with the veterans. For their predictions I take two things into account. One, average productivity over their entire career (note: we’re excluding the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season). And two; the quality of their linemates. This way, we can work down the roster and project where the younger players might land with their productivity. We are using our own summer roster prediction to lay out the lines. Keep in mind, I’m a glass-half-full guy when it comes to prospects, so I’ll admit that we might be aiming a little bit high on Adam Fantilli and some of the other youngsters.
The forward group may be green, but there is a lot of talent here…
Johnny Gaudreau 78GP, 26G, 53A, 79Pts … We have to start the list off with the man who will be expected to drive the offense for the Blue Jackets. He’s fairly easy to predict because he’s been consistent throughout his career, basically averaging these numbers every season, with a couple of outliers at either end. I don’t see him getting a big boost from his current linemates, but anything is possible. So, keep those franchise record hopes in check, at least for now … unless a lot goes right for the Jackets this year, I expect Johnny to come up just short.
Boone Jenner 68GP, 24G, 20A, 44Pts … Boone probably starts the year as the team’s top line center, so I think he’ll see an increase over his career-average of 18 goals and 17 assists. But, I don’t think he’ll spend the entire season there, so he’ll probably come up short of his career-high 49 points. Injuries are a concern here too … he hasn’t played in a full NHL season since 2018-19 (77 games played).
Kirill Marchenko 78GP, 29G, 24A, 53Pts … Here goes our first real crack at an educated guess. Marchenko was fantastic for the Jackets last season, scoring 21 goals in 59 games and playing on the top line for much of its second half. But, he shot at a ridiculous 16% rate, which isn’t sustainable, so I temper my expectations on a huge goal scoring increase. He averaged a little over two shots per game, so if he stays healthy and plays in the top-six (along with PP1 minutes), a near-30 goal season seems possible, assuming he takes a few more shots here and there. I also think he’ll get a lot more assists this year.