Kirill Marchenko exceeded outside expectations in 2022-23.
He led all rookies in goals per game (minimum 40 games played) after lighting the lamp 21 times in just 59 games and led the Blue Jackets in goals per 60 minutes (minimum 20 games played) with 1.32, per moneypuck.com.
The 23-year-old winger heads into his second NHL season confident and determined to etch his name in the Blue Jackets record book after setting the rookie mark for goals in a season.
"It's important for me of course," Marchenko said in his April 15 end-of-season media availability. "Because it's [in] a history book in Columbus, but it's [not] 40 goals in this one season. And I think most guys can [break] this record of course [because it's] not hard, but I really like it now. I'm the first guy, but [I] just [have to] keep working because I [want to break] more records in the future."
As a rookie, Marchenko scored at a 29-goal pace over an 82-game season, so expecting him to eclipse the 30-goal plateau seems realistic if he stays healthy throughout the season. Last year, he played over 75 minutes at five-on-five with seven different teammates, per naturalstattrick.com, so if his line remains consistent during the season, the chemistry they could build may contribute to more goals.
With consistent top-six minutes and power-play time, Marchenko is a prime candidate for a breakout sophomore season for a Blue Jackets team that desperately needed his goal-scoring last season and will need it again this year if they want to compete for a playoff spot.