Mid-Season Grades: Breaking Down the Blue Jackets' Roster

By Nic Hendrickson on January 30, 2020 at 10:15 am
Nick Foligno, Zach Werenski and Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

Some are good, some are bad, and some are ugly.

With the season into its second half, now is a good time to take a look at each Columbus Blue Jackets player and break down how they've fared this season:

Top of the Class

  • Zach Werenski, A  Werenski is undoubtedly one of the top performers, not only for the Blue Jackets but the entire NHL, at his position this season. He is leading the league in goals by a defenseman and also is climbing the ranks for all-time points by a Blue Jackets defenseman – at the ripe old age of 22.
  • Vladislav Gavrikov, A-  While Gavrikov might not be the flashiest player, his long-awaited arrival to the NHL has been nothing short of fruitful. The defense-first blueliner has seven goals and 11 assists on the season and has showcased time and again why his defensive abilities have been praised by everyone who has seen him play.
  • Seth Jones, A- Jones has proven again this season that he is a force to be reckoned with on the back end. He is averaging a whopping 25:22 of ice time per game, ranking him sixth in the NHL. His defensive abilities, strong skating ability, and 28 points are nothing short of a solid season to this point.
  • Joonas Korpisalo, A- There were plenty of question marks on how Korpisalo would perform when given the reins, and he has done admirably. He is sporting a 17-10-0 record to go with a 2.49 goals-against-average and a .913 save percentage, which helped him to earn an All-Star nomination. Had he not gone down with an injury he would undoubtedly still be in the top five in wins in the NHL.
  • Gustav Nyquist, B+ While Nyquist was widely believed to be a solid signing in the off-season, he was also widely viewed as a second-line forward. He has regularly slotted into the first line throughout the season and is currently second in assists and fifth in goals on the Blue Jackets roster with 21 and 11 respectively.
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois, B Dubois currently sits atop the Blue Jackets in points with 38 in 51 games. While this is the best on the roster, there is definitely still room for growth for the physical forward. Overall, he has had a pretty good season and continues to prove himself as the top center for the Jackets
  • Oliver Bjorkstrand, B For the vast majority of this season where Bjorkstrand has been healthy, he has shown why getting him in the third round of his respective draft has been a steal. He is leading the team with 16 goals this season, with many of them being impressive shots. Much like Dubois, there is still room for growth, so that is why he currently sits where he does for a grade.
  • Emil Bemstrom, B- Bemstrom has been impressive this season and has proven, at least for the time being, that he is an NHL-calibre depth forward. He has 13 points in 37 games this season and certainly deserves to get more time. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

Middle of the Pack

  • Elvis Merzlikins, C+ This might seem odd to some given his play since the injury to Korpisalo, but with Merzlikins' early-season struggles forcing Korpisalo to carry the weight of winning, Merzlikins falls a bit lower than expected. That being said, he has been lights out since Korpisalo's injury and would easily receive an A over that span. 
  • Cam Atkinson, C+  Had Atkinson been performing as he has since returning from injury, he would have a much higher grade. That being said, Atkinson struggled to get going for the first chunk of the season and only sits on 12 goals currently, which would work out to 25 for a full 82-game season. This is a bit of a letdown from his prior production of 41 last season.
  • Sonny Milano, C Milano has made his yearly appearances in the NHL this season, playing in 37 games this season. During this time he has shown flashes of his offensive brilliance and even had a "goal of the year" candidate earlier in the season against Dallas. Despite that, he still has lapses of concentration and a lack of consistency in end-to-end play. 
  • Alexandre Texier, C Texier has had a season marred by injury, but when healthy, has shown he has the ability to play at the NHL level. He has 13 points in 37 games and has shown a physical and disciplined style of play, something head coach John Tortorella surely is enjoying.
  • Nick Foligno, C Despite the fact that Foligno hasn't produced much offensively, he would be on pace for a 40-point season if you took this season's stats over an 82-game season, on par with his past two seasons. He gets a pass to the middle of the pack due to his strength in other areas of the ice.
  • Eric Robinson, C- Robinson has the qualities to be a decent bottom-six forward. Hard on the forecheck, works hard, skates hard and his nine points in 31 games is good enough production for a fourth-line forward. This earned him a two-year extension from the Blue Jackets earlier this week.


  • Boone Jenner, D+ This has been a subpar season in regards to points for Jenner, with only 17 in 51 games. Just a few seasons back Jenner was looking to be a middle-six point producer (and was a 30-goal-scorer), and now he looks to be locked into the bottom six on a fairly regular basis. Because we know his potential, he will receive a tougher grade than most.
  • Riley Nash, D+ Nash only has 11 points on the season, which may not be a whole lot, but is almost double of what he had at this point last season. It's still not great, but Nash's veteran leadership and defensive-mindset have made him an anchor on the fourth-line all season, and his +6 rating (sixth on the club) is a small indication of that. His 42.5% CF is a bit of an indictment of his true impact, though. 
  • Alex Wennberg, D+ Wennberg has been decent at times this season but has been disappointing for the most part. At one point in his career, Wennberg was viewed as a possible top center for the organization, but that looks less likely with each passing season. Take into account his $4.9 million cap hit and you start to see why this grade applies.
  • David Savard, D- Point production and possession metrics point to David Savard looking like the new Jack Johnson. Savard only has eight assists on the season, and his 44.7 Corsi-for Percentage points to him hurting more than helping this year.


  • Josh Anderson, F Anderson has had a bad season in every way imaginable. He has spent a good deal of the season injured, even when he has been healthy, his play has been poor. One goal and four total points in 26 games are drastically below expectations.

Not Graded (Due to repeated absences): Nathan Gerbe, Ryan Murray, Dean Kukan, Jakob Lilja, Scott Harrington, Markus Nutivaara

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