Blue Jackets Young Players Need More Ice Time

By Coby Maeir on January 13, 2023 at 10:15 am
Kent Johnson
Gaelen Morse-USA TODAY Sports

What is the future of the Blue Jackets?

Will it include Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli? Who's going to be the coach in five years? All of those questions, while important, should not be the focus right now.

The development of Kent Johnson (13:43 TOI/game), Cole Sillinger (12:48), and Kirill Marchenko (12:27), three players that will likely be around when this team is good again, should be the top priority as we head into the second half of the season. Especially since those TOI numbers aren't contributing to winning as the Blue Jackets set a record for the worst point total through 41 games in franchise history. 

Heading into Thursday night's game, a 6-2 loss to Carolina, Marchenko had scored four goals in his last three games, including a hat trick against Carolina on Saturday. On Thursday, he played 10:27. That can't be good for his development, as he's only 18 games into his NHL career.

Johnson has been one of the league's best rookies this year (6th in points) and has shown signs of being a special player but nine forwards have a higher TOI average this season than he does. He's been much better than the team's 10th-best forward. 

While this isn't the sophomore season fans may have expected from Sillinger (2-5--7 in 38 GP), he's still just 19 years old and should be playing more, if for nothing else to learn how to play important minutes even while not producing offensively.

As I wrote above, these three players are going to be a part of the solution and need more minutes so when the Blue Jackets are good and they get big minutes, it won't be the first time in their NHL careers.

With 41 games left in the season, we'll see how much they play.

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