It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day over at Pro Hockey Talk and much of their coverage centered around the potential for the Blue Jackets to improve over last season’s disappointing result. As Jason Brough reports, much of the weight falls on goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky; he’s the second highest-paid goalie in the NHL behind Henrik Lundqvist, but his 2.48 GAA and 0.908 SV% ranked 35th and 36th respectively in the NHL last season. Bobrovsky got off to a terrible start, losing his first six appearances as the Blue Jackets started 0-8. He also played just 37 games due to a recurring groin injury, which makes you wonder how much of his poor play was because of his injury.
To that end, the Blue Jackets hired former St. Louis Blues strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte to help create a High Performance Department. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Ayotte will “bridge the gap” between the strength and conditioning coach and the team’s medical staff.
In other Blue Jackets news:
- Like nearly everyone in the hockey world, Brough wondered if the Blue Jackets made the right choice selecting Pierre-Luc Dubois over consensus top-three draft pick Jesse Puljujärvi. It could have something to do with the fact that Puljujärvi is a winger while Dubois played the second half of last season at center, a position of weakness in Columbus after the Ryan Johansen–Seth Jones trade. However, Kekalainen said Dubois had been their guy “all year long” because of his “character and leadership qualities”, not his position. While Dubois could be a long-term solution for the team’s number one center, he’s not ready to fill the hole yet.
- In contrast with the question marks at forward and in the crease, the Blue Jackets have a solid blue-line. Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, Jack Johnson, and David Savard form a solid top two pairings. Those four will likely be joined by the eighth overall pick from the 2015 draft, Zach Werenski. The Michigan-native played for the University of Michigan, where he posted 61 points in 71 games in two seasons before joining the Lake Eerie Monsters on their successful Calder Cup run. Werenski posted 14 points in 19 games in the AHL playoffs. Kekalainen told the team website “there’s a very good chance he makes our team and makes our team better”. Besides the signing of Sam Gagner, it’s been a very quiet summer in Ohio, so the team will be looking within to improve on their terrible 2015-16 season. Werenski figures to be a part of that.