Ranking Every Defenseman On the Blue Jackets

By Sam Blazer on September 4, 2019 at 7:26 am
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones (3) controls the puck against the Boston Bruins in the first period during game six of the second round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports
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The Blue Jackets have an embarrassment of riches at the moment when they look to their blue line. They have one of the top defensemen in the league in Seth Jones and they also have an Olympian in Vladislav Gavrikov toward the bottom of their lineup.

It is an embarrassment of riches and it doesn't make the Blue Jackets job easier to select a top six. 

I attempt to rank the Blue Jackets defensemen on skill and overall usefulness to the team.

Seth Jones

Jones is the best of the bunch and that is clear and obvious. He has the potential to win a Norris Trophy in the next few years. His trajectory is insane and is nothing the Blue Jackets have seen before in the history of their franchise. 

He is one of the best in the league and likely the best Blue Jacket defenseman of all-time.

Zach Werenski

Slightly more difficult than putting Jones at the top, Werenski is an interesting study. He puts up points in bunches and more often than not he can hold his own defensively. He averages over half a point per game when playing but his possession stats are just over 50% this past season. It could be a case of a down year but Werenski will need to show that he is a solid #2 and potentially even someone that can push a #1.

Ryan Murray

Over the course of his career, Murray has been criticized for his durability. The one thing that shouldn't be questioned is his ability to be patient with the puck and distribute. Possibly one of the top passing players on the team, Murray has the goods and makes plays when he is on the ice.

A possession monster this past season, Murray is still improving and not showing signs of stopping. Given the chance, Murray continues to show that he may be a top-two defenseman if his body ever does hold up.

David Savard

Having an oddly up and down career, Savard has gone from sensation to pariah at times. His possession skills leave a lot to be desired but as a yeoman that you can put in different situations, he thrives. He kills penalties and he has a good enough shot that you can put him on the man advantage as well.

Savard is the utility knife of the group and is utilized as such.

Markus Nutivaara

You could genuinely make a case that Nutivaara could be ahead of a couple of players on this list. At his best, he is fantastic offensively and could be one of the best on that team in that regard. His inconsistency can be an issue and because of it, that puts him further down this list than many would think.

In another couple of years, you could see Nutivaara near the top. For now, he is just another solid player that shows flashes.

Vladislav Gavrikov

Having played on the Russian national team multiple times, Gavrikov isn't afraid of the big stage. He won't shy away from it and it is a valuable piece for the Blue Jackets moving forward. There are too many unknowns as of this moment given most of his time has been logged in the KHL. 

In the games logged on NHL ice, you can see the poise and control. If that can be translated consistently, that becomes a major part of the team.

Dean Kukan

With only a handful of games at the NHL level, it is hard to not get excited about Kukan. He has offensive touch and poise that is hard to teach. He also is able to get others off the puck consistently. If he can do that over the course of an entire NHL season, that will allow the Blue Jackets to move out a player because he will end up being too good to ignore.

Scott Harrington

Harrington may be the bottom of the barrel but that doesn't mean that he is a bad player by any stretch. On rate based stats, Harrington was putting up points with the best of them. Unfortunately, he is one of the worst on the defensive side in regard to possession. He does have some grit to him which is a welcome change comparatively to other players. 

Nonetheless, Harrington could see himself as the odd man out unless he has a solid training camp.

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