Columbus Blue Jackets: Expansion Draft Edition

In preparation for the Expansion Draft this coming Wednesday, the NHL has entered complete chaos.  Massive trade deals have been made to cut down certain team’s salary caps, players have been asked to waive their “No Movement” clauses.  At this point, no one is safe.  Each of the preexisting NHL teams must submit their protected lists by Saturday the 17th at 5:00 ET.  So, who will your favorite team sacrifice?

Let’s make a case for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  We are going to assume that the Blue Jackets will use the structure of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.  The easiest pick in terms of protecting players for the Blue Jackets would be to use their goaltender slot to protect Sergei Bobrovsky.  Not only is Bobrovsky already protected under a “No Movement” clause, but he also recorded career highs in both total saves (1727) and wins this past season (41).

Moving on to the defense, the Blue Jackets only get three picks from their top defensemen. Columbus tends to lean towards using their two-way defensemen the most, rather than their enforcers. Zach Werenski, who was the leading scorer among Blue Jackets defensemen this season, is protected from the expansion draft itself due to this past season being his rookie season.  In terms of points, the Blue Jackets would be safest protecting 22-year old Seth Jones, David Savard and Jack Johnson.  However, in terms of long run statistics, 30-year old Jack Johnson has seen an overall decrease in total points the last two seasons.  Some may argue the Ryan Murray would be a better pick as he is younger talent in the league, however Murray also so a decrease in overall points and average ice time this past season.  It is up to Johnson and Murray to fight for that last defensive spot on the team.

On a team that scored a total of 247 goals this last season, we must finally evaluate their forwards.  Three of the seven forward positions are already taken up on the Blue Jackets due to “No Movement” clauses by Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno and Scott Hartnell.  With only four open spots, the remaining forwards have a lot to prove.  The first pick will likely go to right winger Cam Atkinson.  Atkinson has spent his entire six season NHL career with the Blue Jackets and has improved his scoring abilities each year to become the team’s leading scorer this past season with 35 goals and 27 assists.  The next pick will go to 22-year old Alexander Wennberg.  Wennberg has nearly doubled his point total each season with the Blue Jackets and has the second longest average ice time of any forward, only coming behind Nick Foligno.  I believe that the third pick will go to left winger Brandon Saad.  Originally acquired from Chicago, Saad has proven to be an asset to the team both offensively and defensively, improving his plus/minus total from a +1 to a +23 this last season.  Finally, for the last pick, I believe Columbus will protect Boone Jenner.  In this last season, Jenner proved he is a great two-way player by not only raking up 34 total points, but also improving his plus/minus by 29 points, showing he is taking more defensive initiative than before.

So, who is safe for sure?  We won’t know until 10 AM ET when the expansion draft lists are made public.  Until then, we must wait and see who is safe from our favorite teams, and who is on the chopping block.

Yardbarker: NHL

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