2017-18 Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Last year the Columbus Blue Jackets proved just how flawed the current NHL playoff format is. They had the fourth-best record in the entire NHL. Their problem, though, was that they had only the third-best record in the ridiculously stacked Metropolitan Division. That means they earned a first-round date with the defending champion Penguins, and Pittsburgh had home-ice advantage. That they lost is not shameful by any means, but it is frustrating. Under the old system that didn't value division matchups so much they would have faced Ottawa and had home-ice advantage. That's still tough, but at least it's not Pittsburgh.
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The goal now for the Blue Jackets is to shake off that disappointment and start by tackling the most immediate goal - making the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in league history. If they can manage that then they can worry about winning their first playoff series as a franchise. Baby steps.
Columbus Blue Jackets Offseason Moves
The Blue Jackets certainly didn't sit still and rest on their laurels after
a record-setting season for the franchise. In fact, they were very
aggressive. They started by sending a first- and second-round pick to Vegas
for two purposes - to get the Golden Knights to agree not to pick a list of
players in the draft, and to get them to take the deadweight of the David
Clarkson contract. Their biggest priority in that deal was to protect
backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo, who Vegas very likely would have taken. Two
days later came a blockbuster as the team sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago
along with a pick and a player for Artemi Panarin, a pick and a player.
Saad was a good player, but Panarin is a serious offensive upgrade and will
be huge on the power play, and the deal had far more to do with finances
than talent for Chicago. It really sets up the Blue Jackets nice on their
top line. Beyond that they let a few guys go that won't be missed - Sam
Gagner left in free agency, William Karlsson was taken by the Golden
Knights in the expansion draft, and they bought out the last two years of
Scott Hartnell's deal.
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Outlook
It's hard not to be optimistic about this team right now. Defenseman Zach Werenski was a finalist for Rookie of the Year and would have won it a lot of years when there wasn't an immortal performance from Auston Matthews to deal with. He's only 20, and his partner on the top pairing Seth Jones is 22, so the team is set up now and for a very long time there. Sergei Bobrovsky won his second Vezina Trophy as top goalie last year and could easily do it again. He was lousy in the playoffs, but that shouldn't linger. Forwards like Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, and Alexander Wennberg have been very good already and will only get better with Panarin sprinkled in amongst them. I have real fear about any team coached by John Tortorella - he is a blowhard who loves the sound of his own voice. His message will get old at some point, but there is no sign that that has happened yet. This is a team that feels like all but a lock to make the playoffs again.
Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule
The schedule itself doesn't stand out as particularly interesting one way
or the other. The one thing to keep an eye on, though, is times when they
catch an opponent on the second night of consecutive games. This team is so
young and fast that they could have a particular advantage against weary
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Futures Odds
Bovada has the Blue Jackets at +2000 to win the Cup, which has them tied with Montreal and behind 11 other teams. There is at least some relative value there. BetOnline has them tied with Montreal and Toronto at +1000 to win the Eastern Conference, behind four teams. And they are the fourth choice to win the Metropolitan Division at +600, behind Washington and Pittsburgh who they trailed last year, and also the Rangers. I'd take the Blue Jackets ahead of the Rangers right now any day. The season win total is set at 46.5. Last year the team won 50.
2017-18 Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions
I like where this team is at. They learned a lot last year, and they are so young and talented. They need a bit of early luck - Bobrovsky needs to play like the playoffs never happened, and Panarin needs to find chemistry in a hurry. Provided that happens, though, I like the "over" on the season win total, and I think this team is a real threat to make the postseason and do some damage when they get there. They will prove that last year was no fluke.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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