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

By Kyle Morrison and Chris Pennington on August 1, 2020 at 12:30 pm
Zach Werenski #8 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates by the bench to celebrate with teammates after Werenski scored a goal during the first period of an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on July 30, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via USA TODAY Sports

This is an updated version of a story written by Kyle Morrison in 2019.

Last April, the Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the sports world with their sweep of the Presidents'-Trophy-Winning Tampa Bay Lightning. Since then, new Blue Jackets fans have been popping up all over the state of Ohio.

And after a four-plus month hiatus from the sports world, it's not only playoff season but bandwagon season. We all want to watch every sport possible, including the boys in blue - but there’s something to know about bandwagon season in hockey: it absolutely rules. 

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

Discovering the joy of hockey – as many football fans in Columbus have over the last few years – 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. Wow, this sport rules.
  2. Wow, 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 Superstar

Seth Jones

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

HT 6'4" WT 209 Age 25 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
There are flashier defensemen out there for sure, but the 25-year-old Jones is 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 good at taking the puck away that he doesn’t have to (and he can score, too).

Scouting Report
Seriously. there’s really not a single weakness to his game. In last year's playoffs, the Lightning found entering the zone against him to be particularly nightmarish, 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.

Approaching Stardom

Josh Anderson

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

HT 6'3" WT 222 Age 26 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Unfortunately, he's sidelined for at least the start of the playoffs, but Josh Anderon's potential is through the roof. He's big, he's fast, he's physical, he can score – there's a lot to like about his 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 but actually good at hockey. That's Anderson, the prototypical power forward, putting up a career-high 27 goals last year and looking great no matter what line he was on, before being ravaged by injury this season. He’s not the fastest player in the league, but he’s up there, and probably the fastest guy for his size. Here's to hoping for a full recovery and some ink this summer for him to stay in Columbus. 

Pierre-Luc Dubois

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

HT 6'3" WT 218 Age 22 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Dubois 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 three seasons into his career. The rare blend of size, a scorer's touch, and just enough nastiness proves a bright future ahead for the 22-year-old.

Scouting Report
GM Jarmo Kekalainen passed on Jesse Puljujarvi, taking PLD instead and boy was it ever the right move. Dubois is the fastest Blue Jacket player ever to 100 points and led the club this season with 49 points through 70 games. It will be his offense to bolster for the foreseeable future, and he's shaping quite nicely into a lethal playmaker and bully in the corners.

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 212 Age 23 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
This guy is an absolute marksman, and this year proved it more than ever. Werenski broke his own team record for goals in a single season by a defenseman (20) and leads all blueliners in the league in scoring, too. Despite his position, you'll often see him joining the rush with the forwards because, like Jones, he can shoot and pass a little. 

Scouting Report
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. Werenski was dynamic from day one, and while he's had his share of ups and downs over the last three seasons – between a shoulder injury that required surgery and general growing pains – he's looked as good as he ever this past season with 41 points in 63 games.

Oliver Bjorkstrand

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

HT 6'0" WT 177 Age 25 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Bjorkstrand was due for his breakout season, and it finally came. After an average start to the 2019-2020 campaign and getting taken out of the lineup due to injury, the Danish Dynamo returned with a vengeance and a fiery stick, helping push the team to playoff contention.

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.

His 21 goals in 49 games are one of the better goals-per-game averages in the league, and he was the team's best scorer before the season suspension. Did we mention he's clutch? His overtime winner in Game 4 won the 2016 Calder Cup for the Cleveland Monsters.

Joonas Korpisalo

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

HT 6'3" WT 191 Age 26 GLOVE L

Two Sentences
Joonas Korpisalo went from career backup of Sergei Bobrovsky to all-star in a matter of months, and the Blue Jackets fanbase couldn't have been happier for him. A knee injury cut into his success a bit and opened the door for Elvis Merzlikins to do some damage, but regardless, Korpisalo has earned a starting job (somewhere in the NHL).

Scouting Report
Korpisalo was benched at the beginning of the season for having a few emotional outbursts in-game but has really turned a corner and proven his capability of being a consistent starter. His highs aren't very high but his lows aren't very low - you know what you're getting with Korpisalo, and if it's not Columbus, he should have a successful career in the league.

Elvis Merzlikins
Elvis Merzlikins

#90 // “ELVIS” // Goalie // RIGA, lATVIA // Stats

HT 6'3" WT 182 Age 24 GLOVE L

Two Sentences
The arrival of Elvis Merzlikins was not what many thought it would be, but over time, gained the respect right back that he initially sought. Merzlikins had a tragic start to the season, taking nine games to get his first win, but in light of Korpisalo's injury, quickly became one of the hottest goaltenders in the NHL.

Scouting Report
When Merzlikins was on this season, he looked like a Vezina-trophy candidate. His five shutouts were tied for second in the entire league, and his save percentage (.923) was good enough to crack the top-eight. He very well could be the goalie of the future in Columbus, and if he can find a bit more consistency to his elite performances, he will be a forced to be reckoned with for quite some time.

Veteran Studs

Cam Atkinson

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

HT 5'8" WT 179 Age 31 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 two seasons ago that will likely see him become the team’s all-time leader in a bunch of different stats (his 41 goals last year tied the club record). 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. He dipped in production a bit this year, and he's likely on the back-nine of his career, but we still have a lot of good to see in the assistant captain in Columbus.

Gus Nyquist

#14 // “GOOSE” // LEFT Wing // Halmstad, SWEDEN // Stats

HT 5'11" WT 179 Age 30 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The big free-agent signing of last summer has done exactly what the club has asked him to do - be a solid veteran presence and put up 40-50 points. He has been a first/second line winger the whole year and can fit in with any group, automatically making his linemates better.

Scouting Report
Nyquist is the winger that every team wants - a leader on and off the ice, gritty in the corners, a skilled playmaker and elite finisher. He can work around the net in power play situations, be a valuable penalty killer, and can be a lockdown defender in end-of-game situations. 

Look for Nyquist to do the little things that most don't pick up on - an extra poke check in the corner to kill an opponent's offensive possession, a scoring of an empty-net goal, and an annoying net-front presence for his size.

The Next Wave

Alexandre Texier

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

HT 6'1" WT 192 Age 20 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Texier is 20, French, dynamic, fearless and arrived out of nowhere to contribute to the Blue Jackets postseason run last year despite waking up in a different continent just a month before. It’s early, and a lower-body injury cut into his highly-anticipated rookie year, 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 lot smarter than the rest of us because Texier shows big-game potential, and just might be on the Blue Jackets' first line come playoff time. He's quick, has a wicked wrister and good instincts with the puck on his stick.

Emil Bemstrom
Emil Bemstrom

#52 // “BEMMER” // RIGHT WING // Nykoping, SWEDEN // Stats // IG

HT 6'0" WT 190 Age 21 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Bemstrom had a solid first year in Columbus, and even tied the team rookie record for a point streak with five games. He has an absolute cannon for a slap shot, and even with a beard, looks like he's 12 years old (but not as young as Texier).

Scouting Report
Bemstrom played the full regular season, but saw little ice time compared to his fellow teammates. That's the price of most rookies, but he made up for it with five power play goals on the year, good for tied for first on the team. Right now, Bemstrom's value comes from ripping one-timers on the man-advantage, but next year, he could develop into a nice second-line winger.

Vladislav Gavrikov
Vladislav Gavrikov

#44 // “GAVY” // DEFENSEMAN // Yaroslavl, RUSSIA // Stats // IG

HT 6'3" WT 213 Age 24 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Gavrikov's first game with the Blue Jackets came in the second round of the playoffs last year against the Boston Bruins, and he's stuck in the lineup ever since. He is essentially a better version of Savard.

Scouting Report 

Gavrikov is a solid stay-at-home defenseman who can sneakily jump up in the play, take a feed down the side lane and pick a corner when he feels like it (5-13-18 in 69 games played). He has a body to intimidate forwards but also has the speed to keep them in front of him. 

Liam Foudy
Liam Foudy

#19 // “FOUDY” // RIGHT WING // TORONTO, CANADA // Stats

HT 6'3" WT 182 Age 24 Shoots L

Two Sentences
Liam Foudy is filling the Alexandre Texier roll of a year ago, not having any NHL experience before playing just two regular season games, and then getting called up for a postseason run. In his small sample size, Foudy has tallied two assists and looked incredibly solid in the exhibition contest against the Boston Bruins.

Scouting Report
Foudy was the Blue Jackets' first-round pick in the 2018 draft and was taken for his wild speed and athletic ability. A former track star, Foudy has the potential to be a stapled penalty kill member, and streak the neutral zone to get behind opposing defenders. He may not get a lot of playing time against the Maple Leafs, but he is worth keeping an eye on.

The Glue

Nick Foligno

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

HT 6'0" WT 208 Age 32 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 he's a solid second or third liner, who actually stepped up to lead all forwards in ice time this season in light of free agency departures and injuries. 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.

Ryan Murray

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

HT 6'1" WT 206 Age 26 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The injury bug is the same ol' story with Murray - a former second-overall draft pick by the Blue Jackets who hasn't played in more than 60 games since 2015-2016. When healthy (knock on wood) Murray is phenomenal in the areas of skating, passing and hockey IQ, even if it's not reflected on the stat sheet.

Scouting Report
There’s an alternate universe where Murray never got hurt 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 (or any season) 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 229 Age 29 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
The only thing more impressive than Savard’s beard is his shot-blocking ability. He's your classic stay-at-home defender: is big, takes shots to the shin and moves his feet every night (and sticks up for his teammates).

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. His production is slowing down a bit, as he was held without a goal this year for the first time since 2012-2013, but the team seems OK with that - as long as he is blocking shots and using his big frame to break up plays. 

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 27 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 at the center position now - and he plays with a ton of heart. 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 a shutdown grinder who can be used in an abundance of situations.

Riley Nash

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

HT 6'1" WT 190 Age 31 Shoots R

Two Sentences and a Highlight
Nash – no relation to Rick Nash – arrived from Boston last season and proceeded to have a career-worst year. He had a slightly better second campaign in Columbus, tallying 14 points in 64 games to go with his versatility and forechecking.

Scouting Report
Nash may be the slowest forward in the lineup, but he has Tortorella’s trust in the defensive zone and can provide a sneaky goal every now and then. No, he doesn’t look like the 40-point guy he was in Boston a few seasons ago, 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. He has (for now) jumped the likes of Markus Nutivaara and Scott Harrington for a spot on the final defensive pairing with Ryan Murray, and the consistent playing time could do wonders for his untapped potential.

Scouting Report
His growth over the last year 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 may not 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. He's also an excellent skater who can bring the puck up the ice, a vital trait for defensemen in the postseason.

Alexander Wennberg
Alexander Wennberg

#10 // “WENNY” // CENTER // STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN // Stats

HT 6'2" WT 197 Age 25 Shoots L

Two Sentences and a Highlight

Wennberg had a breakout year as a 22-year-old a couple of seasons ago but hasn’t come close to repeating it. Still, he’s a millionaire and he’s really, really, ridiculously good looking, so quite frankly, he still has a lot going for him.

Scouting Report
Once a creative and skilled playmaker, his game has slipped, leading to the Swede being a bottom-six center - seven goals in the past two regular seasons will solidify that decision. At his peak, Wennberg is a lethal passer and solid lockdown penalty killer and overall defensive forward, but his timidity with engaging in the play has limited his ice time (and production). 

Other Names to Know

Eric Robinson, Left Wing

Robinson is a lot like a rawer form of Josh Anderson. With increased playing time this year, he bumped up his stats this year and showed potential as a bottom-six wing. His calling card is his speed, and he currently finds himself in the starting lineup thanks to that.

Brandon Dubinsky, Center

In his prime, Dubinsky was an elite pest and one of the key players in the Blue Jackets lineup. However a lingering wrist injury has kept him sidelined since last postseason, and it’s anyone’s guess if he will return to the Blue Jackets lineup again - let along another game in the NHL.

Nathan Gerbe, Center

Gerbe has been around the block a few times - he’s a grizzled veteran who backs down from no challenge. He will likely be he 13th forward for the Blue Jackets in this playoff run, and if anyone gets injured or Tortorella needs a spark, expect Gerbe to draw in.

Kevin Stenlund, Center

Stenlund proved to be a dependable third-fourth line center when an abundance of injuries plagued the Blue Jackets this season, but his window might be one-two years out. He rarely makes defensive mistakes and has a deceivingly wicked wrister based on his height. 

Devin Shore, Center

Shore was brought over in a trade package for Sonny Milano just before the deadline, and was another solid middle-ice depth piece as the Blue Jackets tried to recover from injuries. He and Stenlund would likely be on the bubble after Gerbe to get a nod should a lineup change need to be made.

Andrew Peeke, Defense

The former Notre Dame captain will be an excellent blue liner for the Blue Jackets - just not yet. Peeke’s rookie year was solid all things considered (playing in front of a low-scoring offense) and he held his own in most contests. He has a game similar to that of Kukan - smooth and with the ability to drive a play forward. Just not yet, youngster.

Markus Nutivaara, Defense

Nutivaara looked like he was on the up-and-coming a year ago, but had a mediocre regular season, leaving him on the pine in place of guys like Kukan, Peeke and Scott Harrington. He might be a good trade piece this summer, as he could start on most blue lines. But in Columbus where defensive depth is flourishing, he may be the odd man out going forward.

Scott Harrington, Defense

Harrington has been with the team for a few years now, and is an ideal call-up when you’re ravished by injury. He stays at home and will rarely take an offensive risk. But that’s why he isn’t starting. There’s not much excitement about his game. 


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

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