Sam's Take: Projecting the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2017-18 Opening Night Lineup

By Sam Blazer on August 28, 2017 at 10:28 am
Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno get ready during pregame warmups
Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports

As far as offseasons go in professional sports, the Columbus Blue Jackets have had a quiet one. 

They did not make much noise during free agency and their only big move was a trade for two players that were similar in salary cap terms. They let unrestricted free agents walk and they bought out a player, as well. The big-name signing and the multi-player blockbuster deal never came.

That makes projecting the Blue Jackets' opening-night roster easier than it has been in years past. All stats are from the 2016-17 NHL regular season, any other stats are from the player's junior league.

Team Projected Lineup

# Player Stats # Player Stats # Player Stats
#9 Artemi Panarin 82 GP, 31-43-74 #10 Alexander Wennberg 80 GP, 13-46-59 #71 Nick Foligno 79 GP, 26-25-51
#38 Boone Jenner 82 GP, 18-16-34 #17 Brandon Dubinsky 80 GP, 12-29-41 #13 Cam Atkinson 82 GP, 35-27-62
#28 Oliver Bjorkstrand 26 GP, 6-7-13 #18 Pierre-Luc Dubois 48 GP, 21-34-55 #34 Josh Anderson 78 GP, 17-12-29
#11 Matt Calvert 65 GP, 10-5-15 #45 Lukas Sedlak 62 GP, 7-6-13 #64 Tyler Motte 33 GP, 4-3-7
Defensive Pairs
# Player Stats # Player Stats
#8 Zach Werenski 78 GP, 11-36-47 #3 Seth Jones 75 GP, 12-30-42
#7 Jack Johnson 82 GP, 5-18-23 #58 David Savard 74 GP, 6-17-23
#27 Ryan Murray 60 GP, 2-9-11 #65 Markus Nutivaara 66 GP, 2-5-7
# Player GS W-L-OL GAA SV% SO
#72 Sergei Bobrovsky 63 41-17-5 2.06 .931 7
#70 Joonas Korpisalo 13 7-5-1 2.88 .905 1

As Dan stated in his early projection, this is without an insane trade or signing happening before training camp starts. This also comes with the assumption that both Alexander Wennberg and Josh Anderson are signed to new contracts in time for training camp.

The offense will be fascinating to follow all season long; there are a variety of ways that you can mix and match the lines to produce different match-ups. Panarin and Wennberg are an absolute given to start together on the first line. The right wing position is up for grabs and I could see four different players playing in that position this season. 

My current iteration of the lineup has all four lines with enough talent to allow for scoring, similar to last season. Atkinson on L2 should help Dubinsky and Jenner have bounce-back seasons. Dubois making the team and starting in the middle will be tough, but would be made much easier with Oliver Bjrokstrand and Josh Anderson on either side of him. I don't see how Dubois doesn't make the team with the current signings and a void at the third-line center position.

The fourth line is going to have Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak on it, but who plays the right wing position? Tyler Motte tracks favorably to a young Calvert and Jordan Schroeder should make the team out of camp given his proclivity to score. Schroeder also will have to go through waivers if he doesn't make the team. Someone like Sonny Milano would need to bust down the door to make the team even though he is ready to move on from the AHL.

On defense, it doesn't look like there will be any changes. While everyone is down on Ryan Murray currently, he is still young and has proven to be a versatile defenseman that can be used in a variety of ways. Markus Nutivaara had a good end to the season with a strong playoff showing, which should give him a longer leash this regular season. Gabriel Carlsson and Scott Harrington would serve as the extra skaters.

The goaltending remains the same but if any injuries take place, do they call up one of the rookies in Cleveland or sign a short-term answer? The NHL-ready depth is questionable.