Bandwagoning 101: Everything You Need to Know About the Blue Jackets Roster to Be the Superfan You Deserve to Be

By Kyle Morrison on April 20, 2019 at 9:08 am
Nick Foligno pumps up the crowd after the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Aaron Doster – USA Today

The Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the sports world last week with their sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning and you're not imagining things – there are new Blue Jackets fans popping up all over the state of Ohio.

Folks, it’s bandwagon season, but there’s something to know about bandwagon season in hockey: it absolutely rules. 

There’s no gatekeeping here because gatekeeping is dumb and bad and we're all for the Blue Jackets bandwagon growing to Star Destroyer size. At long last, the Blue Jackets truly matter.

Discovering the joy of hockey – as many football fans in Columbus did over the last week – is one of life's great joys. There's always a process for burgeoning hockey fandom, though, and it always includes the same two epiphanies:

  1. Holy hell, this sport rules.
  2. Holy hell, I need to learn more about its rules, traditions, and nuances.

To that second point, we saw everything on Twitter from “wow, this sport is good” to “how does offsides work in hockey” to “thank god I don’t know enough about this sport to have my enjoyment ruined by knowing the nuances.”

So, let's go to school. We're going to do our best to educate new Blue Jacket fans, so let's dive into the roster.

The Superstars

Artemi Panarin

#9 // “Bread” // Left Wing // Korkino, Russia // Stats // IG

HT 5'11" WT 168 Age 27 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Panarin, affectionately known as “Bread Man,” or simply “Bread,” isn't big but he’s a superstar and an absolute technician both with and without the puck, and the most dynamic forward on the Blue Jackets roster. He's going to test free agency this summer, so enjoy him while you still can. 

Scouting Report
Keep your eyes glued to Panarin when he’s on the ice and he’ll absolutely blow you away with the sublime skill and next-level hockey IQ. Panarin came to Columbus known more as a sniper, but he’s shown here that he’s one of the best playmaking wingers in the league, and his defensive play has jumped up leaps and bounds. His ability to make plays, avoid hits, strip the puck from opponents and make the absolute most of every bit of time and space when he has the puck is downright ridiculous. If you’re going to talk about the top 10 players in the league, Panarin’s name belongs in the discussion. 

Seth Jones

#3 // “JONESY” // Defenseman // Arlington, Texas // Stats // IG

HT 6'4" WT 210 Age 24 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Panarin garners the highlights, but the 24-year-old Jones may be the best overall player on the team and one of the best defenders in the league. Despite having great size, he’s not the type to light up opposing forwards with a bone-jarring hit, but that’s only because he’s so damn good at taking the puck away that he doesn’t have to (and he can score, too).

Scouting Report
Seriously. there’s not a single weakness to his game. Tampa found entering the zone against him to be particularly troublesome, and he seems to have a supernatural sense of where forechecking pressure is coming from, and how to get the puck to safety. Watching him in the defensive zone is a treat, but he’s also lethal when he jumps up on the rush, and he quarterbacked the Jackets’ power play to a 5-for-10 success rate against what was the league’s best penalty kill in Tampa Bay.

But forget about the scoresheet, how many 6-foot-4 defensemen can do this?

Here's a hot (and homer-ish) take that's rooted in reality and completely rational: if Seth Jones played in a bigger market, he would have won the Norris Trophy last season as the league's best defenseman.

Sergei Bobrovsky

#72 // “Bob” // Goalie // Novokuznetsk, Russia // Stats // IG

HT 6'2" WT 182 Age 30 Catches L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Like Panarin, he’s elite, he’s Russian and he likely won’t be a Blue Jacket much longer. There’s a very strong argument for Bobrovsky being the best Blue Jacket of all-time, starring in a long-running hockey meme and winning the Vezina Trophy (given to the league’s best goaltender each season) twice during his time here.

Scouting Report
Bobrovsky possesses absurd lateral quickness. Like, blink-and-you-miss-it speed. He’s the best goalie in the world when he’s on his game, and he’s dragged the Blue Jackets’ asses out of the fire too many times to count during his tenure here. He had a really slow start to the season but came on strong as hell down the stretch, and ended up leading the league in shutouts with nine on the season. Seven of those came in his last 23 games of the season.

Also of note: of the 21 other goalies to ever won multiple Vezinas, 18 of them are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Before this year, he’s struggled a bit in the playoffs, but he exorcized those demons against Tampa Bay and is capable of stealing a series on his own.

Matt Duchene

#95 // “Dutchy” // Center // Haliburton, Ontario // Stats // IG

HT 5'11" WT 195 Age 28 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Skilled, smart and skating with off the charts awareness, Duchene was the blockbuster piece added to the Blue Jackets roster at the trade deadline in February. He dunked all over the Lightning, scoring seven points in four games, including a franchise record four points in Game 2 – plus, he seems to like Columbus and is a fairly good bet to re-sign this summer.

Excuse us, we need a cigarette after watching that.

Scouting Report
An elite player if you go by the eye test, even if the production looks more like a pretty good second liner at times. This year, though, he broke out and tied his previous career high with 70 points. He’s so damn elusive and is an artist with the puck, making some ridiculous passes and finding ways to create space and get a dangerous shot off.

What we're saying is… please, please re-sign, Matt Duchene.

Approaching Stardom

Cam Atkinson

#13 // “CAM” // Right Wing // Riverside, Connecticut // Stats // IG

HT 5'8" WT 179 Age 29 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
It’s impossible to not cheer for Cam Atkinson: He was a late-round pick and undersized at just 5-foot-8, but worked his ass off to become an All-Star level player, and signed a long-term deal last season that will likely see him become the team’s all-time leader in a bunch of different stats (his 41 goals tied the club record this season). He’s got speed and wicked shot, but above all, he has a dedication to the city of Columbus matched by very few in this team’s history.

Scouting Report
His skating is superb – not just his speed, but his edgework and agility, and that’s before mentioning his skill and goal-scoring ability. He's got a penchant for flying through the neutral zone if defenders give him space and getting breakaways, too.

He’s not just an offensive force, either – you’ll see him out there in any situation, as he’s a fixture on both special teams units.

Josh Anderson

#77 // “Andy” // Right Wing // Burlington, Ontario // Stats // IG

HT 6'3" WT 221 Age 24 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
He's big, he's fast, he's physical, he can score – there's a lot to like about Josh Anderson's game. Think of Carlos Hyde at Ohio State, a big bruiser with the speed to burn who has improved every year.

Scouting Report
Imagine if Tom Wilson wasn't such an unrepentant shithead. That's Anderson, the prototypical power forward, putting up a career-high 27 goals this year and looking great no matter what line he was on. Right wing is the deepest position for the Blue Jackets right now, so he’s playing on the third line and in a more physical role, but he showed this year that he has all the tools to be a first-line, 30-goal winger. He’s not the fastest player in the league, but he’s up there, and probably the fastest guy for his size.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

#18 // “Luc” // Center // Burlington, Ontario // Stats // IG

HT 6'3" WT 207 Age 20 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Went third overall in the 2016 draft and some “pundits” hammered the Blue Jackets for selecting him, but he's blossomed into a top line center just two seasons into his career. The rare blend of size, a scorer's touch, and just enough nastiness.

Scouting Report
GM Jarmo Kekalainen passed on Jesse Puljujarvi, taking PLD instead and boy was it ever the right move. Dubois debuted with the team as a rookie last season and quickly earned major minutes, centering the top line between Panarin and Atkinson on the way to setting club rookie records for goals (20) and points (48).

He was even better this season, getting 27 goals and 34 assists while improving as a two-way player. He could stand to improve his face-offs work, but there's a lot of Jamie Benn in his game.

Zach Werenski

#8 // “Z” // Defenseman // Grosse Pointe, Michigan // Stats // IG

HT 6'2" WT 209 Age 21 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Werenski's a defenseman, but you'll often see him joining the rush with the forwards because, like Jones, he can shoot and pass a little. He played for Michigan and likes the Wolverines a little too much for our tastes, but he's a warrior, so we love him on the ice.

Scouting Report
Werenski was dynamic from day one, and while he's had his share of ups and downs over the last two seasons – between a shoulder injury that required surgery and general growing pains – he's looked as good as he ever has in these playoffs, accounting for five points in four games.

He’s more of a “rover” who jumps up in the rush than a traditional defenseman, but John Tortorella is leaning on him to play heavy minutes in the absence of Ryan Murray, and he’s passing that test with flying colors so far.

Oliver Bjorkstrand

#28 // “Bjorky” // Right Wing // Herning, Denmark // Stats // IG

HT 6'0" WT 177 Age 24 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
This Dane is getting minutes on the first line in the playoffs and he's coming through in the clutch, having scored the game-winner in Game 2 and 3 against the Lightning. With a sneaky good shot that's easily the most accurate on the team, Bjorkstrand caught fire down the stretch, scoring 11 goals in his last 14 games including playoffs.

Scouting Report
1st Ohio Battery slack is full of bad takes, but we're all on the Oliver Bjorkstrand train. His father, a hockey coach, harped on hitting the net with every shot and you can see it in his play. He's shooting more these days and Tortorella is rewarding him with a bigger role and bigger minutes.

Did we mention he's clutch? His overtime winner in Game 4 won the 2016 Calder Cup for the Cleveland Monsters.

The Next Wave

Alexandre Texier

#42 // “Tex” // center // St. Margin D'heres, France // Stats // IG

HT 6'0" WT 187 Age 19 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Texier is 19, French, dynamic, fearless and arrived out of nowhere to contribute to the Blue Jackets postseason run despite waking up in a different continent just a month ago. It’s early, but he’s got the makings of a potential star.

Scouting Report
France hasn’t churned out very many NHLers, and Kekalainen surprised many when he took Texier in the second round back in 2017. Because he didn't play in one of the big European leagues like the SHL or Liiga (which he would join after his draft year), he was seen as a potential long-term, developmental prospect who wouldn’t debut until 22 or 23. Turns out Kekalainen is a hell of a lot smarter than the rest of us because Texier is a big contributor on a playoff team at 19 – less than a month after coming over from KalPa – and he’s doing everything right out there.

Markus Nutivaara

#65 // “Nuti” // Defenseman // Oulu, Finland // Stats // IG

HT 6'1" WT 191 Age 24 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
“Nuti” was on the receiving end of Nikita Kucherov’s dirty headshot, and result, but the hope is that he'll be back for the team's next series. The one-time seventh-round draft selection is a key contributor on the blue line and was off to a solid start this postseason.

Scouting Report
The consistency isn’t always there yet for Nutivaara, but when he’s on, he’s a legitimate top-four defenseman, and he’s signed to a team-friendly deal. He’s neither a burner nor a bruiser, rather, he’s a smart player who is fantastic in the transition game. 

The Glue

Nick Foligno

#71 // “Fligs” // Left Wing // Buffalo, New York // Stats

HT 6'0" WT 202 Age 31 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The captain is the heart and soul of the team, even if he's not quite the scorer he was in his younger days. He likes his pizza and his mad, crazy eyes are the stuff of nightmares.

Scouting Report
He might not put up 73 points in a season again as he did in 2015, but a team could do a hell of a lot worse than skating Foligno in their bottom six forwards. He goes to the net, throws the body, still flashes the skill and shot that got him his contract and is a solid all-around player. His Game 1 goal in Tampa may have been the biggest goal of the postseason for the Blue Jackets (so far).

Ryan Murray

#27 // “Murr” // Defenseman // Regina, Saskatchewan // Stats

HT 6'1" WT 205 Age 25 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Murray was having the best year of his career before getting injured in February, and that's been the story of his career as he's missed significant time in five of his six seasons. The Blue Jackets are eying a postseason return for Murray, which is good because his skating, passing and hockey IQ are weapons on the ice.

Scouting Report
There’s an alternate universe where Murray never got hurt after going second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft and became a Ryan Suter-esque top pairing defenseman. That lost development time has seemingly limited his ceiling from “elite top pairing guy” to “pretty good top-four defenseman.” He sure looked good when he was healthy this season – and he could be back for Round 2 – but if there’s one thing the Blue Jackets have learned over the last few years, it’s that they just can’t expect to have him out there, as good as he is. 

David Savard

#58 // “Savy” // Defenseman // St. Hyacinthe, Quebec // Stats // IG

HT 6'2" WT 227 Age 28 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The only thing more impressive than Savard’s beard was his performance in Round 1 against Tampa Bay. He's your classic stay-at-home defender: big, blocks shot, moves his feet every night and will also dog walk the reigning Norris Trophy winner every now and then.

Scouting Report
Savard was actually an offensive-minded defenseman in his junior days, but playing on a team with Jones and Werenski, he's been more than happy to assume the role of the rugged defender in the NHL.

While not the fastest skater, he'll jump in on the rush from time to time because we swear he's a power forward at heart. Otherwise, he's the type of throwback, blue-collar rearguard that Tortorella loves, like Dan Girardi in his prime.

Boone Jenner

#38 // “Boone” // Center // Dorchester, Ontario // Stats // IG

HT 6'2" WT 206 Age 25 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The alternate captain is a fan favorite because he is holy hell to play against. Whether hassling Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos, Jenner is relentless, not afraid to throw the body and he can score a little, too, kind of a Swiss Army knife for John Tortorella.

Scouting Report
Jenner is back on the wing now, but he really found his footing earlier in the season when Tortorella put him at center for his first extended action there since his junior career. He plays with a ton of heart, and while he’s not the fastest or most skilled guy out there, he’s grown into a nice player who wouldn’t be out of place on any other team’s top six. For now, though, he’s on the Jackets’ shutdown line along with Brandon Dubinsky and Riley Nash.

Ryan Dzingel

#19 // “ZINGER” // Center // Wheaton, Illinois // Stats // IG

HT 6'0" WT 190 Age 27 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Dzingel's a former Ohio State Buckeye who, like Duchene, came over from Ottawa in a big deadline deal this season. While he still looking for his footing in Columbus, he’s got a great shot and is one hell of a skater.

Scouting Report
While his defensive game sometimes leaves a bit to be desired, Dzingel is a legit top-six forward who in the right situation could see his goal totals climb well north of 30 each season. He had 26 this year between Ottawa and Columbus and has improved every year he’s been in the league. 

Brandon Dubinsky

#17 // “DUBI” // Center // Anchorage, Alaska // Stats

HT 6'2" WT 205 Age 32 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
In his prime, Dubinsky was an elite pest and one of the key players in the Blue Jackets lineup. He’s lost a step and isn’t much of a scoring threat anymore, but he’ll still throw some nasty checks out there. 

Scouting Report
He’s not as much of a hothead as he used to be, but he’s still prone to the occasional dumb penalty. These days, Dubinsky's a fourth line face-off specialist and grinder, and he more than held his own in that role against Tampa Bay, where he was often deployed against guys like Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Anthony Cirelli. 

Riley Nash

#20 // "NASHER" // Center // Consort, Alberta // Stats

HT 6'1" WT 190 Age 29 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Nash – no relation to Rick Nash – arrived from Boston before the season and proceeded to have a career-worst year. He's playing better lately, however, outscoring Sidney Crosby in this postseason to go with his versatility and forechecking.

Scouting Report
Nash may be the slowest forward in the lineup, but he scored a huge goal in Game 2 against Tampa and has Tortorella’s trust in the defensive zone. No, he doesn’t look like the 40-point guy he was in Boston last year, but he’s doing exactly what this team needs from him now, as a defensively solid, bottom-six forward. 

Dean Kukan

#14 // “KukEs” // Defenseman // Volketswil, Switzerland // Stats // IG

HT 6'2" WT 186 Age 25 Shoots L

Two Sentences
Kukan took a longer path to get here, playing six seasons in Switzerland before signing with the Blue Jackets in 2015. With injuries along the team's blue line, he's been called upon to play more minutes in the postseason and he's responded, earning praise from his coach and GM for his steady play.

Scouting Report
His growth over the last few months has been something to watch, as he’s gone from a healthy scratch and the odd man out to someone playing so well they won’t be able to keep him out of the lineup even when they have their full stable of blueliners. He won’t ever be a star, but he’s exactly what you want a modern-day NHL defenseman to be, someone who can retrieve pucks and make a quick and crisp outlet pass. 

Scott Harrington

#4 // “Harry” // Defenseman // Kingston, Ontario // Stats

HT 6'2" WT 207 Age 26 Shoots L

Two Sentences
Harrington's been with the team for a while, usually as the spare defenseman (meaning he wouldn’t suit up for games unless a regular was injured), but he sure answered the call in Round 1, notching three points and playing a solid game. One month ago, the thought of him doing that would have been met with disbelief.

Scouting Report
There were stretches of this season where it was clear that Tortorella had too much trust in Harrington, whose ceiling is limited, but he sure rewarded that trust against Tampa Bay. Kukan’s likely passed him on the depth chart, and guys like Murray or Vladislav Gavrikov could knock him out of the lineup if they see action this postseason, but he came through when he had to, and he’s been a good soldier for the Blue Jackets.

Joonas Korpisalo

#70 // “Korpi” // Goalie // Pori, Finland // Stats

HT 6'3" WT 182 Age 24 Shoots L

Two Sentences
Korpisalo is Bobrovsky's backup, so he puts on a hilarious amount of gear before each game only to sit on the end of the bench with a baseball cap on. He’s not exactly bad, but he’s not the goalie of the future, either, and if he gets into a playoff game, something’s gone terribly wrong. 

Scouting Report
He’ll look like a world-beater for parts of a game, then let in some questionable goals. At times, though, Korpisalo has flashed starter ability. If he does become an NHL starter, it probably won’t be in Columbus. Still, he carried the Blue Jackets as a rookie in 2015-16, and if his number gets called, there’s a non-zero chance that he repeats that because goalies are voodoo. 

Other Names to Know

Adam McQuaid, Defenseman
McQuaid is big, strong and a good fighter. He'd have been one hell of a monster back in the 1970s. But he's slow. Slooooooooow. Not very skilled and honestly not really great in the modern game. But the playoffs can be a different beast. If, say, the Blue Jackets find themselves in a rematch with the Capitals in a couple of weeks, he may be worth skating as Tom Wilson insurance.

Alexander Wennberg, Center
Wennberg had a breakout year as a 22-year-old a couple of seasons ago but hasn’t come close to repeating it. Once a creative and skilled playmaker, his game has slipped, leading to the Swede being a healthy scratch since April 2. Zero even-strength goals in 75 games will lead to that.

Still, he’s a millionaire and he’s really, really, ridiculously good looking, so quite frankly, he still has a lot going for him

Vladislav Gavrikov, Defenseman
A 2018 Olympian for team Russia and successful professional player in Russia's KHL, the 23-year-old defenseman projects to be a solid player. He arrived to Columbus late Friday night, but may not find a spot in the lineup if Murray is able to return. 

Adam Clendening, Defenseman
Clendening played in the last two games of Round 1 and even got an assist, but saw by far the least amount of ice time of any Blue Jacket in those games. Still, in a pinch, he’s a fine player and had a great season in the AHL.

Eric Robinson, Left Wing
Robinson is a lot like a rawer form of Josh Anderson. There’s a lot to like, even though he didn’t register a point in limited action this year. His calling card is his speed, and if someone gets injured or has a prolonged slump, he could find himself in the lineup. 

Lukas Sedlak, Center
There’s a lot to like in Sedlak’s game, even if he’s not flashy. He does a lot of things right and plays the kind of game Tortorella loves. He wouldn’t look out of place on this team’s fourth line right now, but this is the deepest roster the Blue Jackets have ever had, so he finds himself in the unenviable position of being the 15th forward. 

Markus Hannikainen, Left Wing
Hannikainen was impressive at times this year. He’s not the biggest guy, and he’s certainly not flashy, but he’s a thumper and can play either wing in a bottom six role.

Elvis Merzlikins, Goalie
Bobrovsky’s thought to be on his way out after this season, and if so, Merzlikins is the goalie of the future for the Blue Jackets. He hasn’t played in North America yet, but was outstanding playing in Switzerland for the last few years and had been called the world's best goalie not currently playing in the NHL.

Keith Kinkaid, Goalie
Traded as insurance for a goalie injury at the deadline, Kinkaid is a known quantity. He’s a solid backup goalie, nothing less, nothing more, but won't see action this postseason unless unthinkable things happen. His Twitter game is outstanding, however.

Have questions? Hit us up in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer them.