The bottom six for the Jackets will have some rotating parts this year…
Eric Robinson 50GP, 8G, 8A, 16Pts … Basically, this is right at the career average for Eric Robinson, if you take into account his limited first season as well. And I think these are fair expectations for a guy who has become a utility player on the fourth line. He’ll play on the PK, burn up and down the ice, but chipping in more than depth scoring is asking a lot. I also think he’ll be pushed by some of the younger players for ice time, which limits his offensive chances.
Sean Kuraly 62GP, 10G, 11A, 21Pts … Again, right at his career average, but with a couple of extra goals. He’s scored at a slightly higher pace with the Jackets than he did in Boston. Unlike Robinson, Kuraly will play in all 82 games if he stays healthy, which could cause an uptick in these stats. He’s a valuable fourth line player on this team, and should lock down PK time, important draws and defensive zone starts all season. It won’t be easy to produce offense, but he’ll do that here and there.
Justin Danforth 55GP, 12G, 7A, 19Pts … Projecting again here, I think Danforth’s energy and two-way effort is going to make him a hard pull from the lineup. He’ll probably split some time with Mathieu Olivier on that fourth line, but when he’s in the lineup, he can chip in some secondary offense, play on the PK, and bring plenty of energy. Don’t forget: he started last season on the first power-play unit. The skill is there. I’m interested to see how he comes back from shoulder surgery.
Dmitry Voronkov 55GP, 14G, 9A, 25Pts … Voronkov is probably the most NHL-ready prospect the Jackets have. He’s been playing against men for four seasons in Russia, scoring plenty of goals in that time – including a career-high 18 in 54 games last season. At 6’4″ and nearly 200 pounds, I think he’ll earn plenty of ice time with the Jackets this year. Probably in the bottom-six, but he’ll chip in secondary offense because of his size and skill down low.
Mathieu Olivier 50GP, 5G, 10A, 15Pts … Olivier will bring much needed grit and toughness to the lineup when he’s in, and that’s all we need from him. The secondary (third-ary?) offense is just a bonus; he forechecks hard, and is a bull in the corners and in front of the net. He’ll chip in some points here and there, but don’t expect him to exceed his 5 goal, 15 point output from last season.