The Jackets added some key pieces to the back end this summer. Now, if they can just stay healthy…
Zach Werenski 64GP, 16G, 32A, 48Pts … If he can stay in the lineup and exceed his career-average of 64 games played, I think Zach is more than capable of matching or exceeding his career-high of 48 points with this team. He’ll quarterback the first power-play unit, which should lead to plenty of shooting and passing (to an elite shooter in Laine, no less) opportunities. If that group can play up to their potential, they could be a top-10 unit in the league … which could lead to career years for a few guys. Including Werenski.
Adam Boqvist 65GP, 10G, 31A, 41Pts … Boqvist has averaged just 40 games per season through his short career so far, so we’re projecting him higher in our prediction. If he can stay healthy, he could be a big contributor to this team’s offense . He really seemed to be picking up for a long stretch of time last season. He’ll likely quarterback the second power-play unit, and he has all of the tools to be a high end point producer in this league.
Ivan Provorov 79GP, 10G, 22A, 32Pts … Due to his relative health over the years (fingers crossed!), Provorov gives us an easy statistical prediction. These are his career averages, and for a guy who is probably going to lock down the second defense pairing, with his abilities, these totals don’t seem to be a stretch at all. He’ll make a huge difference for this team at both ends of the ice, in my opinion.
Damon Severson 74GP, 7G, 24A, 31Pts … Similarly, Severson has been remarkably healthy throughout his NHL career so far, and these are his career averages. The Jackets will probably be counting on him to play in a shutdown role, so any offense he chips in will be an added bonus. If he keeps playing a lot of hockey (again, fingers crossed), I expect Severson to be a big difference maker at both ends as well. His experience is invaluable to this young team.
Jake Bean 50GP, 7G, 18A, 25Pts … We’re making projections here, because Jake Bean has exceeded 40 games played only twice in his career (even then, just 42 and 67 games). He’ll be a depth option on the power-play, but overall I expect him to play as the #5/6 guy on this team, with protected minutes against mostly secondary competition. He could surprise us and break out, showing the skill that saw him drafted 13th overall at the 2016 NHL draft – but it hasn’t happened yet, so we’re tempering our expectations. This feels like a make or break year for Jake.
Erik Gudbranson 60GP, 2G, 6A, 8Pts … Gudbranson doesn’t offer us a whole lot offensively, but that’s not what he’s paid to do anyway. Like Olivier, he’ll be expected to bring size and toughness, but to the back end – which comes in really handy when you have a young team, especially when the games start to really matter. These are roughly his career averages.
Andrew Peeke 61GP, 3G, 4A, 7Pts … Similar to Gudbranson, we have Peeke’s career averages here. Like Gudbranson, Peeke doesn’t chip in a lot of points. Unlike Gudbranson, he doesn’t bring a lot of physicality or toughness. Instead, he blocks a ton of shots and sticks to a safe, stay-at-home game. Getting ice time against lower end competition could help him produce more offensively – but more importantly, limiting his minutes against opposing teams’ top lines, could help mask his overall shortcomings.