The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will take place on Saturday, Feb. 4 in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers. We got to thinking about who has stood out for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season and make the case for them to be with the rest of the All-Stars this year.
1. Johnny Gaudreau
With the Blue Jackets near the bottom of the NHL standings, they might only have one representative to take part in this year's festivities, and Johnny Gaudreau is basically a lock to be that player.
Leading the Blue Jackets with 35 points and 25 assists, Gaudreau has been everything fifth-line fans dreamed of and more. He's avoided any real cold spells, never going more than two games all season without a point, and that's only happened twice. Gaudreau's best stretch came when he had points in 10 of 11 games (three goals, 13 assists) from Nov. 15 through Dec. 7. His 10 goals are second on the team.
Through 34 games on the season, he's been held pointless in just 12 of them.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Gaudreau is among team leaders in goals/60 (0.91), total assists/60 (1.59), first assists/60 (0.91), second assists/60 (0.68), leads the club with 2.49 total points/60, and he's a point-per-game player (1.03).
Gaudreau has made the All-Star Game six times: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022.
2. Boone Jenner
The captain, Boone Jenner, is currently out of the lineup with a broken thumb but the Blue Jackets' goal leader with 11 is certainly deserving to be on this list.
With 22 points, Jenner is the clubs' second-leading point scorer and is third on the team with 11 assists.
Jenner has never been an All-Star in his career and this year probably won't be the year since he's rehabbing a thumb injury, and probably would only get in as a reserve if another player backed out of the game. But Jenner's importance to the Blue Jackets doesn't go unnoticed.
3. Patrick Laine
Patrik Laine has been out with separate injuries already this season and missed Thursday’s game with Covid, but he has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 20 games. He caught fire in his return to the lineup on Dec. 2 against his old team, the Winnipeg Jets, scoring two goals right away, and that was part of a stretch that saw him record points in five of six games (six goals, three assists).
Through 20 games, Laine's 1.39 goals/60 is actually better than Gaudreau's but Gaudreau has played in every game and Laine is second with 1.99 total points/60, per NTS.
Somehow, Laine has only made one All-Star Game, which was in 2017.
4. Kent Johnson
If you've noticed the theme by now, all the players on this list have skated on the first line together for a significant amount of time, and until Thursday’s game, Kent Johnson was also getting the opportunity to crack top-line minutes while Jenner is out of the lineup.
Johnson is tied for fourth on the team with 16 points, fourth on the Blue Jackets with eight goals, and sixth with eight assists. He's currently tied for ninth among rookies in points and fourth in goals. He might not be an All-Star and probably won't win the Calder, but don't let that fool you as Johnson is taking the next step in his NHL career in his first full season.
Having made his debut last year and only playing in nine games (zero goals, three assists), this year has been a year of firsts for No. 91.
He scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 22 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and immediately scored two goals over the next two games as part of a three-game goal streak. That was also part of a career-high four-game point streak (three goals, one assist) from Oct. 20 through Oct. 25. He has his only multi-point game against the New York Islanders on Nov. 25 (one goal, one assist).
According to NTS, He's third behind Laine and Gaudreau in goals/60 (0.84), has 1.01 total assists/60, 0.67 first assists/60, and 1.85 total points/60. Johnson and Cole Sillinger are the top players on the team with a 2.5 xGA/60.
Only 20 years old, it seems like a matter of time before Johnson is racking up the All-Star nods.
It feels weird to list anyone else as an honorable mention because it's not like this team is chock-full of All-Star talent. And that's not what this is, but through research, it felt notable to mention how high Jack Roslovic was in several categories like total assists/60 (1.61), which leads the team since Jake Voracek has played 20 fewer games, first assists/60 (1.13), and he's the team's third-leading scorer (18)—more an indictment on the club—and is second in assists (15).
If he can add to his three-goals total, he'll probably turn in a decent season but we're still waiting for the full 82-game picture from Roslovic.