The fifth line had a lot to celebrate this summer. Including but not limited to its pièce de résistance — the signing of Johnny Gaudreau. The optimism amongst Columbus Blue Jackets fans is as high as it has been in quite some time. However, even though this team should be fun to watch this year, how well are they expected to do in this upcoming season?
Dom Luszczyszyn and Shayna Goldman are two analysts that are urging fans to pump the breaks on the enthusiasm, at least for now. They just came out with their Blue Jackets season preview for The Athletic, and while they do believe the team is headed in the right direction, they also believe it will take some time for them to get there. In fact, they caution readers that, according to their model, there is only a 37% chance that Columbus will end up with as many or more points as they had last season. In other words, they believe it is highly likely that they finish with a worse record than last year, even with factoring in the offseason additions.
Unfortunately, the pessimism doesn't end there. They give the club a 55% chance of finishing in the bottom five of NHL teams. They also give the Blue Jackets only a 3% chance of making the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even with all of this naysaying, they do admit that it is possible that the model is underrating the team. However, they don't believe this to be likely, due to the fact that there are several worrisome underlying factors. One of which is the fact that even with the success they enjoyed on offense, they still had the third-worst expected goals rate last season. Add that to the fact that the Blue Jackets' have a weak blue line, at least on paper, and you have a recipe for some rough days ahead. At least according to these analysts.
Though Dom and Shayna are quite down on the CBJ for this season, they do believe the future will likely be bright.
It's not a hopeless one though. Anything can happen, and even if it doesn't, a season in the basement could spark a very quick turnaround next year, especially with some of the rising talent the team has to offer. The present is bleak but the future has plenty of potential with Gadreau in the fold.That'll be the thing to look forward to in what looks likely to be a more frustrating season than some fans might anticipate.
The optimism for what lies ahead is nice, but is it likely that The Athletic is too down on this team, or are fans just looking at the Jackets through rose-colored glasses? We took a look at some of the preseason team rankings to see what other media outlets are expecting out of Columbus this season.
Of all of the rankings we looked at, NBC Sports, was by far the most bullish on the Blue Jackets, putting them at number 11 in their power rankings. Even with this generous ranking, they did lament the fact that the club didn't make bolder moves to address the defense and goaltending issues. The rest of the publications had the team ranked anywhere between 21st and 24th.
When you look at the betting lines out of vegas, the team doesn't fare well there either. As of Tuesday, they were tied for the sixth worst odds to make the playoffs. They were also locked into a four-way tie for the third worst chance of winning the Stanley Cup, at 100-1.
The team is definitely headed in the right direction, but it seems that most in the sports world believe they are a ways off from even making the playoffs.
Do you agree? Sound off in the comments below.