Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 player review, Jake Christiansen keeps waiting his turn

Jake Christiansen has been in the Blue Jacket organization for four years. In that time, he's played in just 44 total NHL games.
San Jose Sharks v Columbus Blue Jackets
San Jose Sharks v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

When the Blue Jackets signed Jake Christiansen to an entry-level contract in March of 2020, my hope was that he was a classic "late bloomer", destined for eventual NHL time.

Unfortunately for Jake, that just hasn't happened yet. At least, not in a permanent capacity. In four seasons with the CBJ organization, Christiansen has gotten into a combined 44 games. In 2022-23, he set a career high by playing in 24 contests, mostly due to injuries to the Jacket defense corps.

This year, he was relegated back to mostly American Hockey League duties. He's done really well for the Cleveland Monsters in his time there, and this season was no exception. In 62 AHL games, he scored 13 goals and 46 points - earning AHL All-Star honors.

He got into 12 games with the Blue Jackets, and really I didn't think he performed too poorly overall. The bad news here: he didn't really stand out positively, either. Averaging 13:13 per game, he picked up 2 assists.

That's just not good enough for a guy who earned a pro contract based off of his offensive abilities. In his final year of junior, Christiansen scored 22 goals and 50 points in just 38 games.

Now, it's not uncommon for overage players to dominate in those junior leagues. The key here is differentiating which ones are dominating because they're bigger, stronger, and more experienced ... and which ones are dominating because they have a future in the NHL.

In the case of Christiansen, at this point, I think it's safe to say that he's a 4A player. He's able to dominate in the AHL, putting up nearly identical numbers in back-to-back seasons with the Monsters.

But when called upon in the NHL, he just doesn't stand out. He's a good enough skater, but he's not a physical player, and the bigger, heavier NHL players often win puck battles against him.

In the end, his offense isn't good enough to make him a top-four guy - and his defense isn't good enough to make him a bottom-four guy without chipping in more offense.

Christiansen is a restricted free agent this summer, and I think this one could go either way. He has arbitration rights, but I don't see him getting much of a pay bump either way. The Jackets could choose to keep him for depth or AHL leadership - or just move on and replace him with someone younger.

Final season stats: 12gp, 0g, 2a, 2pts, -5, 2PiMs, 7sog (NHL). . Jake Christiansen 2023-24 Grade:. Jake Christiansen 23-24. C

He gets a "C" grade from me because of his play in the AHL. But, the fact that this isn't a "B" or higher is bad news for him, because it means he didn't elevate his game to the NHL this year.