As we wake on Day One of the Post Nashpocalyptic world, national opinion beyond the friendly confines of I-270 seem to be of the belief that the Columbus Blue Jackets are going to be absolutely terrible and abysmal without Rick Nash (as opposed to 30th place with Rick Nash), as if he is the sole proprietor of goal scoring in Columbus. I decided to take a look forward at what the Blue Jackets could do. I went through Rob Mixer’s “How Will they Line Up?” on CBJToday, and used that as the proposed lines. Obviously, anything can change between now and October. Obviously, just because a guy’s numbers averaged over the last two years say he’ll score 15 goals, it doesn’t mean he can’t slump or explode into a career year. And no amount of stats can predict the chemistry (or lack thereof) between a couple of guys – but let’s find some basis for what everyone’s griping about.
L1: Prospal – Brassard – Foligno
Vinny Prospal – age 37 – LW
|(projected over 82)||82||25||40||65||11||6||172|
Derick Brassard - age 24 – C
Nick Foligno – age 24 – W
L1* has three guys who seem to have no difficulty averaging around 15 goals apiece and point totaling in the 40-55 range. If they develop chemistry and take shots (why so few, Brassard?), they could turn into a 40-50 goal line. Or more? It would be fantastic if all three could produce 20-goal seasons, and that doesn’t seem overly unrealistic, especially with Foligno looking to assume a larger role with Columbus than he did in Ottawa. If they can shore up their defensive liability (big minuses) they could be effective.
L2: Umberger – Dubinsky – Johansen
RJ Umberger – age 30 – LW
Brandon Dubinsky – age 26 – C
Ryan Johansen – age 19 – C/W
L2* is a little harder to predict as both Umberger and Dubinsky trailed off in 2011-12 compared to their prior production, but had scored in the 20-25 range with regularity prior to 2012. If they return to form – and Ryan Johansen feeds off of their experience after having an up and down rookie year – could they be a 60 goal line? One third of Ryan Johansen’s goals were on the PP. Could this be PP1?
L3: Anisimov – Letestu – Atkinson
Artem Anisimov – age 24 – C
Mark Letestu – age 27 – C
Cam Atkinson – age 23 – RW
|(projected over 82)||82||21||21||43||3||3||200|
L3* is home to a guy who was on fire in his rookie season’s latter stages (Atkinson) and dominated the AHL, a guy who was ineffective with a minimal role in Pittsburgh (Letestu) but caught fire in Columbus in a new role, and a guy who has scored at least twelve goals in all three of his NHL seasons (Anisimov). It’s hard to say if Letestu’s change of scenery will continue to be in his favor, or if Anisimov will flourish in his new home, or if the sneak preview of Atkinson we got last season will last, but I see no reason why this line couldn’t put up 40 goals between them.
L4: Gillies – MacKenzie – Dorsett
Colton Gillies – age 23 – C/W
Derek MacKenzie – age 31 – C
Derek Dorsett – age 25 – RW
L4* is about what you expect from a fourth line. I went back three years to show Gillies’ complete lack of any kind of production (completely underwhelming, but also completely replaceable), but MacKenzie and Dorsett make up for it. Dorsett’s new-found offense, if it sticks, added to MacKenzie’s defensive game, could make this a formidable shut down line that is capable of 40+ points.
What I see overall is instead of having one guy who is expected to tip in 30-40 goals with a supporting cast around him, the new Blue Jackets appear to be a team of small ego-ed, hard working players. At least 6-7, if not 10, have 20-goal potential. In 2011-12, the Blue Jackets had one 30G, one 20G, and one 16G (four others with double digits). The Nashville Predators (11 with 10+ G, 2 over 20) and St. Louis Blues (9 with 10+ G, 2 over 20) have shown that a team doesn’t have to be loaded with high-priced superstars to have success. What the Blue Jackets have “lost” in removing #61’s 30g/29a, they have gained in a handful of additional players with 20g potential at the same cost.