2023-24 Season Preview: Reasonable Expectations For Blue Jackets Forwards

By Coby Maeir on September 26, 2023 at 10:15 am
Johnny Gaudreau speaks to the media at the annual Columbus Blue Jackets media luncheon.

Welcome to the 2023-24 season preview.

Over the next few weeks, we at 1st Ohio Battery will be giving in-depth previews for the 2023-24 Blue Jackets season. Today, it's time to give realistic expectations for the team's forwards. All projections for the players are going to be over an 82-game pace. 

Johnny Gaudreau: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 80GP, 21G, 53A, 74P

Entering his second season in Columbus, expectations should be high for Gaudreau, and not just because he has the highest cap hit ($9.75M) on the team. He's just one year removed from a 40-75--115 season, and while it's unrealistic to expect him to score at that rate this season, scoring at over a point-a-game pace is well within his reach, especially if he plays on a line and builds chemistry with Patrik Laine. If the Blue Jackets are going to compete this season, Gaudreau will need to be elite. 2023-24 Expectation: 25G, 60A, 85P

Patrik Laine: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 55GP, 22G, 30A, 52P

Due to injuries, Laine has yet to play a full season since arriving in Columbus, and while he's been nearly a point-per-game player over the past two seasons, it feels like he can reach another level. Well, he definitely can, because he did it in Winnipeg, where he scored 44 goals in 2017-18. If his early connection with Adam Fantilli translates into the regular season and the two share a line with Gaudreau, this could be a prolific trio. With his talent, there's no doubt Laine can score 40 goals again, and it's probably a realistic expectation to have for him. 2023-24 Expectation: 35G, 35A, 70P

Jack Roslovic: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 77GP, 11G, 33A, 44P

Roslovic is one of the most inconsistent players on the team. One night, he can look like the best player on the ice. The next, not so much. Despite his lack of consistency, he still managed to score over half a point per game last season. He has the ability to eclipse his totals from last year in 2023-24, but will he be consistent enough to do so? With a plethora of forwards competing for roster spots, will his play rise above the level of competition? If it does, he could be in for a big year, but there's just not enough evidence of that for it to be realistic. 2023-24 Expectation: 15G, 20A, 35P

Adam Fantilli: 2022-23 stats (NCAA): 36GP, 30G, 35A, 65P

According to Stathead, just four teenagers played over 10 games in the 2022-23 NHL season. Fantilli, who turns 19 on opening night, has received a great deal of hype since being selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2023 Draft, and deservedly so. He's just the third freshman in NCAA history to win the Hobey Baker Award, and if he has the NHL career of either of the two others in the club (Paul Kariya and Jack Eichel), he'll be the best player in franchise history. However, it's important to remember that the NHL isn't supposed to be easy for anyone, let alone a teenager. While expectations shouldn't get out of hand for Fantilli, he's not just any other rookie. 2023-24 Expectation: 25G, 25A, 50P

Kent Johnson: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 77GP, 16G, 24A, 40P

Johnson showed flashes of sheer brilliance in his first NHL season, displaying why he was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 Draft. Heading into the final year of his entry-level contract and his second full NHL season, he should only be getting better. The 20-year-old said he gained 10 pounds this summer, which should help him be stronger on the puck. Assuming he plays top-six minutes and receives power play time, it's reasonable to expect a step up in his numbers. 2023-24 Expectation: 20G, 40A, 60P

Kirill Marchenko: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 59GP, 21G, 4A, 25P

After setting the franchise's rookie record for goals in a season in 2022-23, Marchenko will be slated to play a full NHL season. His assist total should rise, pretty significantly, especially if he plays in the top six and on the power play. However, just because he scored at a 29-goal pace last season doesn't mean he'll score 29 this year. Jackets fans should be excited about Marchenko's second year with the club, but not too overzealous with their expectations. 2023-24 Expectation: 25G, 15A, 40P

Boone Jenner: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 68 GP, 26G, 19A, 45P

If not for a broken thumb in December, Jenner likely would've scored 30 goals for the first time since the 2015-16 season. The Blue Jackets captain is entering his 11th season with the club, and when healthy, has proven to be a significant contributor on both ends of the ice. Depending on who his line-mates will be throughout the season, a big year could be in store for him. 2023-24 Expectation: 29G, 31A, 60P 

Cole Sillinger: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 64 GP, 3G, 8A, 11P

After a 16-goal rookie season, Sillinger's second-year struggles were well-documented. He scored just 3-8--11 in 64 games last year and even got sent down to the AHL at the end of the season. However, it's important to remember that he doesn't turn 21 until May, and there's a reason he was the No. 12 pick in the 2021 Draft. He's talented, as he displayed in 2021-22, and should be in for a bounce-back season. 2023-24 Expectation: 18G, 20A, 38P

Sean Kuraly: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 71GP, 11G, 9A, 20P

Kuraly fits the role of a bottom-six forward well. He plays hard on both sides of the puck, kills penalties, blocks shots, and chips in offensively every so often. With the additions of Fantilli and Alexandre Texier, Kuraly will likely be on the fourth line this season, where he'll still be able to make an impact. 2023-24 Expectation: 8G, 10A, 18P

Alexandre Texier: 2022-23 stats (Switzerland): 46GP, 13G, 22A, 35P

Texier hasn't played in an NHL game since January 26, 2022, and his return to the team is one of the top storylines of training camp so far. He's played on a line with Fantilli and Laine and doesn't look out of place, scoring a goal in Sunday's preseason game. He's likely slated for a middle-six forward role this season, but if he's on the top line, he could provide the Blue Jackets with a real spark. 2023-24 Expectation: 15G, 20A, 35P

Yegor Chinakhov: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 30GP, 4G, 9A, 13P

After an injury-riddled 2022-23 campaign, the hope is that Chinakhov can stay healthy enough to be a main factor in the Blue Jackets' lineup. The No. 21 overall pick in the 2020 Draft has played in just 92 games over two NHL seasons so far. He has the potential to be a productive NHL scorer, but it's yet to be seen on the ice. 2023-24 Expectation: 10G, 10A, 20P

Eric Robinson: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 72GP, 12G, 12A, 24P

Robinson's high-end speed is what makes him stand out in a team's bottom six. Like Kuraly, he'll likely spend his time on the fourth line and penalty kill. 2023-24 Expectation: 5G, 7A, 12P

Mathieu Olivier: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 66GP, 5G, 10A, 15P

Olivier is recovering from a leg injury that has kept him out of training camp so far, and it remains to be seen whether or not he'll return for the season opener on Oct. 12. The Blue Jackets rewarded his grit and toughness with a two-year, $1.1M AAV extension this summer, and it'll be interesting to see what his second season in Columbus has in store for him. 2023-24 Expectation: 3G, 4A, 7P

Dmitri Voronkov: 2022-23 stats (KHL): 54GP, 18G, 13A, 31P

Voronkov is another intriguing storyline at this year's training camp. At 6-foot-4, you can't miss him on the ice, and it's a good sign for the Blue Jackets that he scored at a decent rate in one of the best league's in the world last season. However, his ability to adjust to the North American style of hockey will likely determine his success this season, if he makes the team. 2023-24 Expectation: 10G, 10A, 20P

Liam Foudy: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 62GP, 7G, 7A, 14P

After not scoring until Feb. 18 last season, Foudy had a strong finish to the 2022-23 campaign playing solid bottom-six minutes. He displayed his combo of speed and skill throughout the year and was finally rewarded with some goals. Will he be an NHL regular this season? 2023-24 Expectation: 8G, 8A, 16P

Justin Danforth: 2022-23 stats (NHL): 6GP, 2G, 1A, 3P

Danforth's season got cut short after tearing his labrum, but in the six games he did play, he was a factor. He played up and down the lineup and wasn't afraid to play in the dirty areas, either. 2023-24 Expectation: 10G, 15A, 25P

For a team that finished 30th in goals last season, the Blue Jackets will need big contributions from their forwards if they want to contend for a playoff spot in 2023-24.