Defense wins championships.
It doesn't matter how many goals you score if you cannot keep the puck out of your net. That was the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets 2021-22 season. They set franchise records in goals scored, but also in goals allowed.
With Bjorkstrands goal, the 2021-22 Blue Jackets have now set a franchise-record 257 goals in a season.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) April 30, 2022
Previous (256) was set in 2018-19.
High-event hockey this season for #CBJ, who, in their 22nd season, set franchise marks for most goals scored and goal allowed.
While the Jackets have a good young core of defensemen, something has to change on the defensive end for them to be competitors next season. Whether that's structure or personnel is not up for me to decide, but here's my take on a few defensemen they could or should try to add this summer. If you would like to read which forwards I think they should try acquiring this off-season, click here.
The Minnesota Wild defenseman will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) following the 2022-23 season and has a cap hit of $6MM. The Wild will be in a cap-crunch situation for the foreseeable future as the buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter will count $12MM+ next season and $14MM+ the following two seasons against the cap. One of their top forwards, Kevin Fiala, is a restricted free agent (RFA) and is due for a large raise this off-season. The Wild have about $7.3MM in cap space this off-season, and about $23.9MM next off-season, even though that is without signing any players so that $23.9MM number is misleading. Dumba turns 28 this summer and if he and the Wild cannot agree on an extension, Columbus should certainly make a call. Dumba is a player who would pair great with Zach Werenski on the top unit. According to naturalstattrick.com, he had a 52.07 xGF% (percentage of expected goals on the ice that the player's team scores, 100 is the best, 0 is the worst). That ranked higher than Adam Fox, Roman Josi, Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, Brian Dumoulin, John Carlson, and Dougie Hamilton. The only issue with Dumba is that he has a modified no-trade clause, so he can submit a 10-team list that he cannot get traded to. Whether Columbus is on that list or not is unknown, but something to keep in mind.
The Flyers have had back-to-back seasons of disappointment. Maybe it's time for them to hit the restart button. However, the moves they've made, like giving Rasmus Ristolainen a five-year extension, do not illustrate they are going to reset anytime soon. Sanheim carries a cap hit of $4.675MM and like Dumba, will be a UFA following the 2022-23 season. However, unlike Dumba, Sanheim does not have any trade clauses in his contract, so Philadelphia can trade him, if they do trade him, to any team in the league. Sanheim would fit perfectly as the second pair left defenseman, and won't turn 27 until March 2023. According to naturalstattrick.com, his high danger goals for percentage (HDGF%, percentage of high danger goals on the ice that the player's team scores, 100 is the best, 0 is the worst) was 51.58. That ranked higher than Victor Hedman, Alex Pietrangelo, Moritz Seider, Drew Doughty, Jake Bean, and the aforementioned Fox, Dumba, and Carlson. I mention Bean because Sanheim could be replacing him if the Jackets were to acquire him.
The Jackets need to keep the puck out of the net at a much higher rate next season, and these two players can help them do that.