In a year where the Blue Jackets set a franchise record for goals in a season with 258, Oliver Bjorkstrand won the title of most goals by a Blue Jackets player.
Bjorkstrand registered career-highs in goals (28) and points (57) in 80 games in the 2021-22 season, the first of a five-year contract with an annual cap hit of $5.4MM.
His 28-goal campaign marked the third time he eclipsed the 20-goal plateau, and Bjorkstrand's 2021-22 goal total was also 10 more than his output last year, but that can be misleading. In 2020-21, he played all 56 regular-season games, and over an 82-game season, he was on pace to score 26 goals.
Bjorkstrand backhand and a beauty at that pic.twitter.com/MwBk747wt1— NHL (@NHL) January 21, 2022
Bjorkstrand has proven to be a reliable goal scorer at the NHL level, and he won't turn 28 until April 10, 2023, so this could be the first year of what may be considered his prime. Can he be a perennial 30-goal scorer? Only time will tell, but over the last four seasons, he's scored 0.34 goals per game, which ranks 64th in the NHL among players with at least 50 goals over that span and amounts to approximately 28 goals over an 82-game pace. Speaking of paces, in 2019-20, he scored 21 goals in 49 games. That's 35 goals over an 82-game pace.
His consistent performance over the past few years raises the expectations heading into the 2022-23 season. If he can eclipse the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career, it could go a long way to helping the Jackets reach the postseason for the first time since 2020.
With the opportunities he has on a nightly basis, scoring 30 goals seems like a legitimate possibility next season, especially if the career-highs he set in time-on-ice per game (17:57) and power-play time-on-ice per game (3:07) in 2021-22 increase even in the slightest in 2022-23.
Ollie makes it a tie game! pic.twitter.com/r98Iyoj55n— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 26, 2022
It also won't hurt if Patrik Laine re-signs with the team, because Laine's elite goal-scoring ability would draw attention away from Bjorkstrand, particularly if they're on the ice together.
Bjorkstrand will be expected and relied upon to be one of the team leaders in goals again next season. His career stats demonstrate that those expectations are warranted.