All-Time Roster: Who Are The Best Blue Jackets In Franchise History?

By Ed Francis on August 30, 2021 at 8:20 am
Artemi Panarin and Nick Foligno; two of the all-time Blue Jacket forwards.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Twenty seasons of Columbus Blue Jackets hockey.

In those two decades, a total 273 skaters and 26 goalies have laced up a pair of skates for Columbus at least once.

Of those 299 current or former Blue Jackets, which ones were special enough in the union blue to make the Blue Jackets all-time roster?


LW: Rick Nash
C: R.J. Umberger
RW: Cam Atkinson

Was there any doubt on the wingers for this one? Nash and Atkinson are 1-2 in franchise history in games played, goals, and points. There was a bit of a question at the center position, though. Umberger as the best up the middle in 20 years of Blue Jackets hockey speaks a bit to Columbus' historic struggle at the position – he averaged just 46 points per 82 games – but the former Ohio State Buckeye is one of only six players in team history to score 100+ goals.


LW: Artemi Panarin
C: Brandon Dubinsky
RW: David Vyborny

No player on this list played less games with the team than Artemi Panarin. In his first season, his 82 points made him the only Blue Jacket to ever record 80+ points in a season. In his second (and final) season, he broke his own record with an 87-point performance. Dubinsky's slow exit from the league due to a wrist injury wasn't the send-off that he deserved, as he was a key cog in the Blue Jackets making a name for themselves in the mid 2010's - and gets a bump for playing the role of pest against Sidney Crosby. Vyborny gets the nod over Bjorkstrand at right wing for now, though that gap is closing by the game. Fun fact on Vyborny: His 543 games played is the most ever played by a Blue Jacket who never played for another NHL team.


LW: Geoff Sanderson
C: Nick Foligno
RW: Oliver Bjorkstrand

Like Vyborny on the second line, Sanderson is another inaugural Blue Jacket who makes the all-time list. Sanderson had the first hat trick in team history, is the only Blue Jacket to score four goals in a single game, and nearly two decades after his departure from the team, remains seventh all time in Columbus history with 88 goals. Foligno, the longest-reigning captain in team history, slides fittingly into the third line: He's third in games, goals, assists, and points. Bjorkstrand has a lot of work to do to catch Atkinson for the top spot at right wing, but could be right behind him with another solid season.


LW: Matt Calvert
C: Ryan Johansen
RW: Boone Jenner

This is where it gets interesting, with about a dozen players worthy of consideration. In the end, each player here brought something special to the table: few players were as beloved as Calvert, who also gave the team their first ever playoff win with a double-overtime goal in Pittsburgh. Johansen, despite the mixed feelings on him, averaged 0.62 points per game with the team. That's more than any other Blue Jacket center with at least 100 games played. Jenner, the future captain (just announce it already!), has been another catalyst in the Blue Jackets rise to relevancy in the last several seasons – and he's also 4th all time in goals, at 121.


D: Seth Jones
D: Fedor Tyutin

D: Zach Werenski
D: David Savard

D: Rusty Klesla
D: Jan Hejda

For the sake of all-time rosters, the left and right side is null and void. One could play a little with the order, but these six defenseman (with honorable mentions to James Wisniewski and Jaroslav Spacek) separate themselves from the rest of the group. With the exception of Markus Nutivarra, no Blue Jackets blue liner has a better career plus/minus than Savard – and Nutivarra played in less than half the games than Savvy did. Still, it's not enough to get him to the top pairing: Jones and Tyutin had a combined 14 seasons as the most steady defensive hand on the roster. Tyutin may be the most underrated defensive player in franchise history. Werenski has the opportunity to provide that this year and make the case for a bump to the top pairing. Klesla, the first ever draft pick by the Blue Jackets, is the longest-tenured defenseman in team history, and was a far better player than he was ever given the opportunity to be. He's paired with Hejda, who averaged more than 22 minutes per game in the 2008-09 season, the first in which Columbus qualified for the postseason. 


STARTER: Sergei Bobrovsky
BACKUP: Elvis Merzlikins

The starter here is so obvious, it doesn't even need to be discussed. The race for the *second* best goalie in team history is wildly compelling, though. Ron Tugnutt, Marc Denis, Steve Mason, Joonas Korpisalo, and Pascal Leclaire all have an argument. But it goes to Merzlikins – yes, the guy who has played less than all of those guys. He's got a better save percentage than those five. He's got a better goals against than those five. The best quality start percentage of those five. More shutouts per game. Finally, and maybe most importantly, he's got the 5th Line behind him in a way that they never have been for those five. If Bobrovsky is on the shelf, Merzlikins is the guy.

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