Fresh Sweater Numbers For Columbus Blue Jackets' Both Old And New

By Ed Francis on September 24, 2022 at 1:45 pm
Johnny Gaudreau will wear #13, a number the briefly belonged to rookie Kent Johnson last season.
Bailey Johnson (The Columbus Dispatch)

If, at the end of last season, you were to say #13 would lead the team in points for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season, there would be a degree of doubt.

Now? Not so much.

The #13 sweater was owned by rookie Kent Johnson in his brief, nine game stint with the Blue Jackets in the spring. 

But July 13th (how poetic) changed everything. The Blue Jackets signed the best #13 in the league when they reached a long-term agreement with premier free agent Johnny Gaudreau. Johnson's favorite player growing up (you know, a few years ago) was Gaudreau, so the 19-year-old Michigan standout gladly swapped with his new fellow forward and will wear #91 this season. 

New Faces, New Numbers
Johnny Gaudreau           13
Erik Gudbranson           44
James Neal           18
Joona Luoto           46
Mathieu Olivier           24
Kirill Marchenko           86

Johnson will be the third Blue Jacket in club history to sport the #91, joining Sergei Fedorov (2006-08) and Anthony Duclair (2019). The rookie was also the third player to wear #13. It originally belonged to Nikolai Zherdev before having a long run as the sweater worn by Cam Atkinson. 

Gaudreau wasn't the only free agent signing from the Calgary Flames who swapped numbers with a still-current Blue Jacket of the same position. Hours before signing Gaudreau, the Blue Jackets inked Flames defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year deal. Gudbranson wore jersey #44 in Calgary and keeps that number in Columbus after current defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, the former owner of #44, dropped one of his digits and will go into the 2022-23 campaign wearing #4. 

Old Faces, New Numbers
Kent Johnson           91           13
Vladislav Gavrikov            4           44
Gavin Bayreuther           15            5
Jake Christiansen           23           32
Brendan Gaunce           12           23

The 31-year-old Gudbranson is the ninth Blue Jacket to wear #44. Gavrikov and Rusty Klesla, the original owner of #44, each wore the number for three seasons. Like Gudbranson, Gavrikov will also be the ninth player to wear his number. His #4 has only been worn for more than two seasons on one occasion — by Scott Harrington, who donned it from 2018 until he left as a free agent over the summer. Harrington is currently in the San Jose Sharks system. 

Those four players are likely going to see plenty of action with the Blue Jackets this year, but they aren't the only four to keep an eye on who bring a new sweater number to the ice.

Defensemen Gavin Bayreuther and Jake Christiansen, who could be in line for 7th or 8th defenseman spots this season, are sporting new numbers. Bayreuther added a 1 to his five and becomes 15, and Christiansen inversed his previous #32 sweater to become #23. 

Mathieu Olivier, who came over in a trade from the Nashville Predators, will wear #24. James Neal, who is just four goals away from 300 career NHL goals, is signed to a tryout contract and wearing #18. Kirill Marchenko, finally here after finishing his KHL contract, will wear #86.