Devin Shore

Getty Images

Mixed Blue Jackets injury news for NHL Playoffs: Jones in, Anderson out

With a Qualifying Round best-of-five looming against the Maple Leafs, the Blue Jackets got mostly positive injury news lately. Seth Jones highlights the good injury news, while Josh Anderson is the most significant letdown.

Jones headlines good injury news for Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets activated Jones and fellow defenseman Dean Kukan off of IR on Thursday.

This capture the bigger picture: that the Blue Jackets should have quite a few key players back if that Qualifying Round series happens against Toronto. Jones joined Cam Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and basically the kitchen sink on the injured list this season.

Jones, 25, scored six goals and 30 points in 56 games before injuries derailed his season.

By certain measures, Jones might not be quite the Norris Trophy-level defenseman many believe. His possession numbers are closer to solid than dominant, although some of that might boil down to playing more than 25 minutes per night.

Wherever Jones ranks in the stratosphere, he’s important to the Blue Jackets. So is Bjorkstrand and Atkinson, as this Evolving Hockey GAR Chart reinforces:

Blue Jackets injury news GAR
via Evolving Hockey

[MORE: Previewing Blue Jackets – Maple Leafs and other East Qualifying Round series]

Players Blue Jackets might not have in the lineup

You may look at that chart above and believe that Anderson isn’t much of a loss. In the framework of the 2019-20 season alone, that’s probably fair.

In the grand scheme of things, it likely is not fair, though. He’s been a useful player for Columbus for some time now. Anderson also boasts the sort of size and physical play that can make him difficult to handle in a playoff format. He was a handful at times for the Lightning during that shocking sweep during the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports that Anderson is unlikely to be available until at least September (sub required).

That’s a big blow, although it does leave the door open for a return during the postseason — if the Blue Jackets made an even better underdog run than in 2018-19.

A lack of Anderson hurts because, frankly, the Blue Jackets figure to struggle to score — even while healthier. With expanded rosters in mind, look at Portzline’s guesses for the forwards Columbus will have on hand:

Cam Atkinson, Emil Bemstrom, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Nick Foligno, Liam Foudy, Nathan Gerbe, Boone Jenner, Jakob Lilja, Ryan MacInnis, Stefan Matteau, Riley Nash, Gustav Nyquist, Eric Robinson, Devin Shore, Kevin Stenlund, Alexandre Texier, Alexander Wennberg.

When you stack that group up against the firepower Toronto boasts in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, and others, you can see why every Anderson-type helps.

Out of context, the eighth-ranked Maple Leafs probably shouldn’t be big favorites against the Blue Jackets.

Look at the difference in firepower, then consider very different levels of media focus. Put that together, and Columbus is likely to be framed as heavy underdogs.

That’s just the way John Tortorella & Co. like it. With Jones looking good to go, they might just have a shot at making a run.

MORE ON THE BLUE JACKETS:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

What is the Columbus Blue Jackets’ long-term outlook?

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Pending Free Agents
Josh Anderson (RFA)
Gabriel Carlsson (RFA)
Pierre-Luc Dubois (RFA)
Vladislav Gavrikov
Jakob Lilja (RFA)
Joonas Korpisalo (RFA)
Ryan MacInnis (RFA)
Elvis Merzlikins (RFA)
Devin Shore (RFA)
Kevin Stenlund (RFA)

The Core

The Columbus Blue Jackets do not have the elite goal-scorer or dangerous playmaker that top-tier NHL teams have, but they do possess a few critical components of their foundation to build a long-term successful roster.

Zach Werenski and Seth Jones anchor the Blue Jackets’ blue line and make up one of the top defensive pairings throughout the NHL. Their steady play helped goaltender Joonas Korpisalo become an All-Star this season and Elvis Merzlikins look like a seasoned veteran in his rookie season between the pipes.

Pierre-Luc Dubois continued his development as a top-line center and was in position to match his 61-point total from a season ago. However, Cam Atkinson and Josh Anderson’s production dropped off dramatically. Atkinson only netted 12 goals in 44 games this season, while Anderson scored one time in 26 games. Both players missed time with injuries this season (along with most of the Blue Jackets’ roster) but couldn’t produce offensively the way they have in the past.

Despite Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin leaving the organization last summer, the Blue Jackets remained in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race up until the NHL Pause a few weeks ago.

The experience gained in the spring of 2019 when the Blue Jackets secured a playoff spot and won a series for the first time in franchise history paid dividends for the team this season.

Long-Term Needs

The Blue Jackets averaged 2.57 goals per game in the 70 games they played this season and desperately need to add more playmakers. The lack of production from Atkinson and Anderson hurt dramatically and injuries contributed to them becoming one of the bottom-five teams in goals per game this season.

One area of concern is depth at the center position. Dubois is on track to become a building block every successful team needs in the middle, but the roster lacks playmakers behind the promising young player.

Alexandre Texier showed promise this year before a back injury derailed his season and John Tortorella believes he could fill a gaping hole in the lineup.

“The thing I like about Tex is I think he understands how to play low in that (center) position,” Torts told the team website. “A lot more comes into play as a centerman when you don’t have the puck in your end zone, a lot more reads like a defenseman, and I think he has the intelligence to do that.”

Columbus does not have the sexiest roster in the NHL, but they do have the right pieces of the puzzle to be a playoff team for the next several seasons.

Long-Term Strengths

While Tortorella’s antics during press conferences have been entertaining, he had one of his strongest seasons behind the bench and proved to be one of the NHL’s best bench bosses. The Blue Jackets did not have a 50-point scorer and proved to be greater than the sum of their parts with a strong season following a tumultuous summer.

The Blue Jackets sustained a league-leading 15 overtime/shootout losses (including a mistake which produced an epic postgame press conference) and could have pulled away from a crowded playoff wild-card race if a few of those outcomes went their way.

Jones and Werenski are two world-class defenders and Dubois is growing into a dynamic center but Columbus needs to fill out its roster. The Blue Jackets’ front office must find the right corresponding pieces to skate alongside their foundational players in order to take the next step as a franchise.

MORE:

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Looking at the 2019-20 Columbus Blue Jackets

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to take a look at where each NHL team stands at this moment with a series of posts examining their season. Have they met expectations? Exceeded expectations? Who has been the surprise? All of that and more. Today we look at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

2019-20 Columbus Blue Jackets

Record: 33-22-15 (81 points in 70 games played); fifth in the Metro, second East wild card
Leading Scorer: Pierre-Luc Dubois, 49 points (18 goals, 31 assists)

In-season Roster Moves:

  • Traded Sonny Milano to the Anaheim Ducks for Devin Shore.
  • Sent Markus Hannikainen to the Arizona Coyotes for a conditional seventh-rounder.

Season Overview: 

In 2018-19, the Blue Jackets finished the season in the second wild-card spot, right behind the Hurricanes. In 2019-20 … the Blue Jackets went into the COVID-19 halt in the second wild-card spot, right behind the Hurricanes.

Now, sure, it’s not the exact same situation. In this year’s case, the Islanders would take that spot if you went by points percentage, as they’re only a point behind the Blue Jackets (80 to Columbus’ 81) while the Islanders hold two games in hand (68 to Columbus’ 70 GP).

Yet,  how many people would have expected the Blue Jackets to manage this feat? Columbus didn’t just lose Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky to free agency. The Blue Jackets also lost a ton of players to injuries, often significant ones, from Seth Jones to Cam Atkinson to Joonas Korpisalo.

Like him or not, this season’s been a testament to John Tortorella’s coaching abilities. While the Blue Jackets aren’t winning every possession battle (especially regarding high-danger chances), they’re not cratering in the same way Winnipeg has after painful personnel purges.

All things considered, it’s impressive that the Blue Jackets fall in the middle of the pack by various metrics, including this “Reality vs. Expectation” chart from Charting Hockey (which uses Evolving Hockey’s data).

2019-20 Blue Jackets Charting Hockey Evolving Hockey

For Torts’ structure to bend-but-not-break, Columbus did need strong goaltending, though. Elvis Merzlikins delivered (13-9-8, .925 save percentage) even more than Korpisalo did (19-12-5, .911 save percentage) to help hold everything together.

We’ll see if the Blue Jackets get the chance to prove that they could hold onto their current spot. Either way, Tortorella and the Blue Jackets already proved a lot in 2019-20.

Highlight of the 2019-20 Season for Blue Jackets: 

The Blue Jackets didn’t only win six in a row during some of Elvis’ hottest days in the building. They also pulled off a 10-game point streak from Jan. 11 to Feb. 7 (9-0-1). Stretching back further, they went 11-1-1 in 13 games (Jan. 6 to Feb. 7) and 13-2-1 in 16 (Dec. 31 to Feb. 7).

Yes, they plummeted into the pause (3-6-6 from Feb. 8 to March. 8), but that previous tear was really something.

If you need something more of the highlight reel variety, recall Sonny Milano’s between-the-legs goal, a nice memory Milano created before he was traded:

And, hey, if you need some righteous Tortorella rage at refs, there was some of that this season, too.

MORE ON THE BLUE JACKETS

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Looking at the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks

Getty Images

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim Ducks

Record: 29-33-9 (71 games), 6th place in Pacific Division; out of playoff spot
Leading scorer: Adam Henrique — 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists)

In-season roster moves

Season overview

Things looked somewhat promising at the beginning of the year when the Ducks won six out of their first eight games, but it quickly turned into another season of regression and disappointment after that.

At the time of the season suspension the Ducks were in sixth place in the Pacific Division and on track for their worst overall record since the 2003-04 season.

They rank among the bottom-five in goals scored, goals against, power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, and shots on goal per game. It is going to be their second straight season without the postseason and the third consecutive year with a decrease in total points. Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell proved to still be productive players, but none of them made a significant impact that could help carry the offense. Most concerning is that none of their young forwards took a meaningful step forward offensively.

Along with a lack of offense, they have also been hit hard by injuries, especially on defense. Not one of their defensemen has played in more than 60 games this season, while Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson (their top-three blue-liners) combined to miss 49 man-games due to injury.

Put those two things together, along with a down year (by his standards) season from starting goalie John Gibson and it is the recipe for a long season.

Highlight of the season so far

This is an easy one. Nicolas Deslauriers recording a natural hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. Before this game he had just four goals in 58 games this season and only 28 goals in 375 career games.

MORE:
Ducks’ biggest surprises, disappointments so far
Ducks’ long-term outlook

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

ProHockeyTalk’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

The Pro Hockey Talk 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker is your one-stop shop for all completed deals. The 2020 NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.

NHL Trade Deadline candidates
Non-UFAs who could move
Teams that need to be most active at trade deadline
• Trade Deadline live blog

Feb. 24, 2020
San Jose Sharks: Brandon Davidson
Calgary Flames: Future consideration

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Joel Persson
Edmonton Oilers: 2022 conditional seventh-round pick, Angus Redmond

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Christian Djoos
Washington Capitals: Daniel Sprong

Feb. 24, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Matt Lorito
New York Islanders: Jordan Schmaltz

Feb. 24, 2020
Philadelphia Flyers: Nathan Noel
Chicago Blackhawks: T.J. Brennan

Feb. 24, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets: Conditional 2020 seventh-round pick ( If Hannikainen plays 10 games for Coyotes the rest of this season, Columbus will receive the pick.)
Arizona Coyotes: Markus Hannikainen

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Matt Irwin, 2022 sixth-round pick
Nashville Predators: Korbianian Holzer

Feb. 24, 2020
Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Cousins
Montreal Canadiens: 2021 fourth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Brady Skjei
New York Rangers: 2020 first-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020
San Jose Sharks: 2020 first-round pick, Anthony Greco
Tampa Bay Lightning: Barclay Goodrow, 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020
Vancouver Canucks: Louis Domingue
New Jersey Devils: Zane McIntyre

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Vegas Golden Knights: Robin Lehner, Martins Dzierkals (Vegas retains 22% of Lehner’s salary)
Chicago Blackhawks: Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin
Toronto Maple Leafs: 2020 fifth-round pick (Maple Leafs retain 50% of Lehner’s salary)

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Sonny Milano
Columbus Blue Jackets: Devin Shore

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Sami Vatanen
New Jersey Devils: Fredrik Claesson, Janne Kuokkanen, 2020 conditional fourth round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Buffalo Sabres: Dominik Kahun
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evan Rodrigues, Conor Sheary

Feb. 24, 2020
Dallas Stars: 2020 sixth-round pick
Florida Panthers: Emil Djuse

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Calgary Flames: Erik Gustafsson
Chicago Blackhawks: 2020 conditional third-round pick (Chicago will receive the earlier of Calgary’s two third-round picks in 2020.)

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Tyler Ennis
Ottawa Senators: 2021 fifth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Calgary Flames: Derek Forbort (Kings retain 25% of Forbort’s salary)
Los Angeles Kings: 2021 conditional fourth-round pick (If Flames make Western Conference Final and Forbort plays half the games or if they re-sign Forbort, it becomes a 2022 third rounder.)

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Detroit Red Wings: 2020 and 2021 second-round picks, Sam Gagner
Edmonton Oilers: Andreas Athanasiou, Ryan Kuffner (Oilers retain 10% of Gagner’s salary.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 seventh-round pick, Aaron Luchuk
Ottawa Senators: Matthew Peca

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Danton Heinen
Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: Conditional 2021 fifth-round pick (Turns into a fourth if Sabres make the playoffs and Simmonds plays 10 games)
Buffalo Sabres: Wayne Simmonds (Devils retain 50% of Simmonds’ salary.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Kyle Criscuolo, 2020 fourth-round pick
Philadelphia Flyers: Derek Grant

Feb. 24, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Calle Rosen
Colorado Avalanche: Michael Hutchinson

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Patrick Marleau
San Jose Sharks: 2020 conditional third-round pick (Pick becomes a second if Penguins win the Cup.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Philadelphia Flyers: Nate Thompson
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 fifth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Vincent Trocheck
Florida Panthers: Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Chase Priskie, Eetu Luostarinen

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Ottawa Senators: Conditional 2020 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2022 third-round pick. (If the 2020 first-rounder is top three, it moves to 2021. Ottawa only receives the 2022 pick if the Islanders win the 2020 Stanley Cup.)
New York Islanders: Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Ottawa Senators: 2021 fourth-round pick
Colorado Avalanche: Vladislav Namestnikov

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Mike Green (Red Wings retain 50% of Green’s salary)
Detroit Red Wings: Kyle Brodziak, 2020 or 2021 conditional pick (Detroit gets a fourth-round pick in 2020. It turns into a third-rounder in 2021 if Edmonton reaches Western Conference Final, and he plays in half of their games.)

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Washington Capitals: Ilya Kovalchuk (Canadiens retain 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary)
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Mike Green (Red Wings retain 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary)
Detroit Red Wings: 2020 or 2021 conditional fourth-round pick

Feb. 22, 2020
Nashville Predators: Ben Harpur
Toronto Maple Leafs: Miikka Salomaki

Feb. 21, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Winnipeg Jets: Cody Eakin
Vegas Golden Knights: Conditional 2021 fourth-round pick (becomes third-rounder if Eakin re-signs or Jets make playoffs)

Feb. 21, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Anaheim Ducks: Axel Andersson, David Backes (Bruins retain 25% of Backes’ salary)
Boston Bruins: Ondrej Kase, 2020 first-round pick

Feb. 20, 2020
Florida Panthers: Danick Martel
Tampa Bay Lightning: Anthony Greco

Feb. 20, 2020
Pittsburgh Penguins: Riley Barber, Phil Varone
Montreal Canadiens: Joseph Blandisi, Jake Lucchini

Feb. 19, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Max Veronneau
Ottawa Senators: Aaron Luchuk, conditional 2021 sixth-round pick

Feb. 19, 2020
New York Rangers: Jean-Francois Berube
Philadelphia Flyers: future considerations

Feb. 19, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Los Angeles Kings: 2020 second-round pick, 2021 second-round pick
Vegas Golden Knights: Alec Martinez

Feb. 19, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Denis Malgin
Florida Panthers: Mason Marchment

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Washington Capitals: Brenden Dillon (Sharks retain 50% of Dillon’s salary)
San Jose Sharks: 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2021 third-round pick

Feb. 18, 2020
New York Rangers: Julien Gauthier
Carolina Hurricanes: Joey Keane

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
St. Louis Blues: Marco Scandella
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2021 fourth-round pick

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Winnipeg Jets: Dylan DeMelo
Ottawa Senators: 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 17, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Los Angeles Kings: Tim Schaller, Tyler Madden, 2020 second-round pick, 2022 conditional fourth-round pick (if Toffoli re-signs)
Vancouver Canucks: Tyler Toffoli

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2020 first-round pick, Nolan Foote
Tampa Bay Lightning: Blake Coleman

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2021 second-round pick, David Quenneville
New York Islanders: Andy Greene

Feb. 10, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jason Zucker
Minnesota Wild: Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, conditional 2020 or 2021 first-round pick

Feb. 5, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Toronto Maple Leafs
: Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford
Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Moore, 2020 third-round pick, conditional third-round pick in 2021

Jan. 17, 2020
Dallas Stars:
Oula Palve
Pittsburgh Penguins: 
John Nyberg

Jan. 7, 2020
Nashville Predators: Michael McCarron
Montreal Canadiens: Laurent Dauphin

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Buffalo Sabres: Michael Frolik
Calgary Flames: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Montreal Canadiens: Marco Scandella
Buffalo Sabres: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020
Ottawa Senators: Mike Reilly
Montreal Canadiens: Andrew Sturtz, 2021 fifth-round pick