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What has gone well for the Blue Jackets?
Let’s face it; this season has been a huge disappointment for the Blue Jackets. Following Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Panthers, their seventh loss in a row, Columbus now has the fifth-worst record in the NHL at 15-24-9.
However, there are reasons for optimism in the state capital. Here are a few of them worth keeping your head high.
Jack is for real
The biggest deal of the year was Columbus trading Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Jets in exchange for Patrik Laine. And while Laine has disappointed with just 17 points in 38 games, the other player the Jackets received has been much better than advertised.
Jack Roslovic has gone from a throw-in to a legitimate top-six center. The 24-year old has ten goals and 20 assists, scoring Columbus’ lone goal on Tuesday to give him a career-high 30 points. As seemingly every new acquisition has bombed, Roslovic has been the lone exception, trailing Cam Atkinson for second on the team in points by one despite playing in eight fewer games.
The fact that Roslovic may actually be the first-line center of the future to replace Dubois would be huge for the future of the franchise. Then if Laine can return to form (assuming he’s re-signed as an RFA), the Jackets will be the big winners of that trade.
Elvis ready to rock
When Sergei Bobrovsky departed for Florida, Blue Jackets fans felt confident that Joonas Korpisalo would be able to fill the void in the net. However, a new goalie has emerged for Columbus to put more faith in going forward.
Taken two years after Korpisalo in the draft, Elvis Merzlikins has out-performed his counterpart over the last couple of seasons. This year, Elvis has a 2.98 GAA, and .910 save percentage, while Korpisalo is carrying a 3.27 GAA and .894 save percentage. The career numbers favor Merzlikins as well, as the Latvian netminder boasts a 2.59 GAA and .918 save percentage, while Joonas has a 2.89 GAA and .905 save percentage for his career.
Both goalies are slated to hit free agency after next season, and Columbus will face a difficult decision on who to hold on to. However, Merzlikins is helping make that decision a little easier.
The Blue Jackets were never realistic contenders this season. Fortunately, they realized that around the trade deadline and took advantage of their position as sellers.
The biggest move was the trade of captain Nick Foligno, which netted the Jackets Toronto’s first-round pick this year and fourth-rounder next year. They also managed to acquire Tampa Bay’s first this year and a third next year for David Savard while also getting a conditional seventh from Toronto for an injured Riley Nash. That’s three trades that netted the Jackets five picks, including two first-rounders this year.
With several key players off the books after next season, Columbus has an opportunity to create a new foundation of players with these picks. And with three first-round picks and nine total picks in 2021, plus eight total picks as of now in 2022, the rebuild can happen in a hurry.
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