2019 Columbus Blue Jackets Odds to win Stanley Cup with Expert Predictions
I have watched hockey for most of four decades now, and I am willing to admit that nothing has surprised me more than the Columbus Blue Jackets did in the playoffs last year. Tampa Bay was one of the deepest, most balanced, and most terrifyingly talented teams we had seen in this league. They didn't seem to have faults, and they had run away with the President's Trophy last year. They seemed like a lock to reach the Eastern Conference final - at least. Heck, I had picked them to win the Stanley Cup, and it had taken all of three seconds of thought to decide to do so.
So, when Columbus, as the last wild card team, won the first game of their first-round matchup with the Lightning - in Tampa Bay, no less - I was truly shocked. And by the time the Blue Jackets had swept the Lightning out of the playoffs, nothing made sense anymore. It was entirely beyond comprehension.
And the Blue Jackets proved it was not entirely a fluke, either, when they took eventual Eastern champs the Bruins to six games in the second round. It was an incredible, impossible accomplishment. But after a very rough offseason, the team faces a huge task to even make it back to the playoffs, never mind to find a way to shock the world again.
Columbus Blue Jackets Offseason Moves
It was not a great offseason for the team. Last year at the trade deadline, the team pushed all their chips to the center of the table, sending two first-round picks and some players to Ottawa for Matt Duchene and adding Ryan Dzingel in a separate deal with Ottawa. The moves paid off with the playoff berth, and the upset of Tampa Bay, but they have nothing to show for them now. Duchene signed with Nashville and didn't ever seem too serious about staying in Columbus. And Dzingel went to Carolina. Those two losses would be rough for the team by themselves in the offseason, but they weren't even the big ones. The team also lost Artemi Panarin, their top offensive threat, to the Rangers with a new seven-year deal worth $11.6 million per season. And all-world goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky left for a seven-year, $70 million deal with the Panthers. So, not only did Columbus lose their two most important players, but they lost them to teams that are now much more of a threat to take Columbus' playoff spot after the moves. Losing those four players was among the biggest blows any team suffered this offseason.
The losses wouldn't hurt so much if the team had been able to use their new cap freedom to make up for them. But they didn't really. The best addition was Gustav Nyquist, the 30-year-old Swede who signed a four-year deal. He'll likely step into Panarin's place on the first line but would ideally be a second line player on a better team.
Thanks to their deals, the team had no high picks in the draft and added no
immediate impact players. One guy who will be looked at to fill an
offensive void, though, is 2017 second-rounder Alexandre Texier. The
19-year-old Frenchman played in Finland for much of last year. He came to
the AHL for seven games, though, and had seven points. Then he played two
regular-season NHL games, scoring a goal in the final game of the season.
And he added a goal in the fourth playoff game. He'll likely start his true
rookie season on the third line, but there is certainly upside on this
roster if he keeps looking as strong as he did in all three leagues he
played in last year.
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Outlook
A lot depends on Joonas Korpisalo. As a rookie, the new starting goaltender was viewed as a budding superstar, and teams around the league tried to pry him out of Columbus. But the last two years his save percentage has fallen below .900, and he has looked too shaky too often. If this team is going to have any chance at all, they will need Korpisalo to really step up and find his game in a big way. He'll be helped out by a defensive unit, led by Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, that is really solid. But offensive depth, and a lack of centers behind top line star Pierre-Luc Dubois, are issues that will put more pressure - perhaps too much - on the shoulders of the new starter. The lack of experience behind Korpisalo is a concern, too. The likely backup is 25-year-old rookie Elvis Merzlikins, the team's third-round pick in 2014. He has been putting up big numbers in Switzerland, but European numbers don't always translate to the NHL, so the team doesn't really know what it has at this point.
Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule
It could get ugly early for the Blue Jackets. They open against Toronto and then at Pittsburgh and face serious playoff contenders in their first six games. If they aren't ready for prime time out of the gate, they could find themselves in a hole they are unable to climb out of.
Columbus Blue Jackets NHL Futures Odds
At +5000 to win the Stanley Cup, the Blue Jackets are tied with the Sabres and Canucks as the 25th choice to win the Stanley Cup. They are tied with Buffalo at +2500 to win the Eastern Conference, ahead of only Detroit and Ottawa. They are the longest shot on the board to win the Metropolitan Division at +1400. Their season point total is set at 84.5, with balanced action. They are +165 to make the playoffs, compared to -190 to miss them.
2019-20 Columbus Blue Jackets Predictions
It's hard to be too optimistic given how much they lost. They have some nice young talent, but they really need to define their goals this year as being about the development of those guys more than about trying to replicate last year. I just don't see this as a playoff team, or even really a serious contender, in the brutal Eastern Conference.
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