A Festivus for the rest of us!
While it would be appropriate to air our Columbus Blue Jackets grievances on this fine Festivus, we have the other 364 days of the year to do that.
So whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Festivus, Christmas, or what have you, we take a look at some appeasing items that are sure to wet fans' holiday wishlists this season.
1. Bedard Sweepstakes
It's the most wonderful time! Unless you're the Blue Jackets right?
In the middle of a poor season on the ice for the team, they're right in the thick of the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Bedard (64 points — 27 goals, 37 assists in 28 games for the Regina Pats) isn't the only top name that could be had in next summer's June draft as another center in Adam Fantilli (26 points — 11 goals, 15 assists in 16 games at the University of Michigan) will be out there—the Blue Jackets do like their Michigan Wolverines—winger Matvei Michkov (14 points — 10 goals, four assists in 12 games for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg), and others are going to be highly coveted.
While the idea of tanking, or trying to find solace in the fact that the NHL club isn't very good isn't for everyone, the reality is, it's not the worst time to have a down season when you have generational talents at the end of the . . . rebuild? retool? You can root for wins, especially since this team doesn't currently have the talent to rack up a lot of them, and realize L's makes the current situation a little easier to swallow.
2. 13 - 91 - 29
Fans have wanted a chance to see Kent Johnson play center and he's getting the chance to do so on the top line while Boone Jenner recovers from a broken thumb.
Losing Jenner isn't ideal, as he's the team's second-leading point scorer with 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists), but in a lost season otherwise, it's a great opportunity to see what Johnson can do with elite skill around him, and he gets a chance to showcase his skillset at the middle ice position.
Johnson scored a goal late in Monday's loss to the Dallas Stars and then connected on his eighth of the season with Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau in Tuesday's loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Whether he evolves into a full-time center remains to be seen but this glimpse at the potential future of that elite line is a fun storyline to currently watch play out.
Cole Sillinger is struggling through what many might consider a sophomore slump, and also an injury to boot, but Johnson, Sillinger, and then someone like Bedard or Fantilli down the middle?
Wow. Now we're talkin.'
3. A No. 1 Goalie
Daniil Tarasov is getting the chance to showcase himself for the Blue Jackets in a year in which many would have presumed he would be refining his craft at the AHL level in Cleveland.
However, while Joonas Korpisalo dealt with an injury, and Elvis Merzlikins is dealing with struggles, injuries, and now illness, Tarasov has been able to provide a sense of stability to the Blue Jackets' net.
Korpisalo was activated off injured reserve on Thursday, so once Merzlikins is ready to make his return, it seems likely Tarasov heads back to Cleveland. That's probably the best route for him, especially after playing pretty well at the NHL level as the speed of the AHL game is probably a little slower for him now as compared to the NHL.
When Korpisalo returns, I guess Tarasov goes back to Cleveland (probably still ideal) but #CBJ going to be forced to play Elvis (probably still ideal for the big picture).— Will (@willgchase) December 20, 2022
Merzlikins is signed through 2026-27 so he's going to get his opportunity to fix this mess, and in a season that isn't really going anywhere up the NHL standings, now's the time to try to get back to basics and fix his game.
Korpisalo is a UFA after the season so perhaps he's trade bait at the deadline.
At least it looks like Tarasov can hang in the NHL and isn't that something to be thankful for?
4. Kirill Marchenko Is Here To Stay
Kirill Marchenko finally earned his shot at the NHL level on Dec. 13 and he looks like he's trying to make it a one-way trip. With three goals in nine games, the winger is already delivering on the promise and the potential we've been hearing about. Even if the team isn't great right now, the skill is coming together, folks and Marchenko is just the latest to be excited about.
The Blue Jackets are in the middle of one of their most injury-riddled campaigns. Yegor Chinakhov left Monday's game with an ankle injury after Joel Kiviranta fell into him, ending Chinakhov's night after 37 seconds as he remains indefinitely out of the lineup.
Yes, injuries piling up make it harder to win *cough* but you still want players like Chinakhov to play, develop, and take that next step. Which he seemed to be doing with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) through 30 games. He had 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 62 games last season. In addition to Korpisalo being activated, defenseman Adam Boqvist was activated off injured reserve on Thursday so that's a step in the right direction.
No matter what you're hoping for this holiday season, perhaps a great Festivus Miracle will be upon us!