Blue Jackets to Parlay AHL success into NHL Prosperity
Posted by: Charlie Smith
Unlike their AHL affiliates, the Columbus Blue Jackets are not exactly NHL betting favorites to win the 2016-17 Stanley Cup, with odds of +5050. About a month ago, the Lake Eerie Monster swept the Hershey Bears 4-0 to win the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup. Conversely, the Blue Jackets finished last season with a 34-40-8 record and did not make the postseason. However, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen does not seem too fazed by that failure. Other than signing the 3rd overall pick of the 2016 draft Pierre-Luc Dubois to an entry level contract, and resigning defenseman Seth Jones to a 6-year $32.4 million contract extension, the Blue Jackets have been remained awfully inconspicuous in the free agency market, and trade-wise as well – only sending Kerby Rychel in exchange for Scott Harrington.
All of the above seems to point to the fact that when it comes to their roster for the NHL, betting on their young prospects is what Kekalainen and head coach John Tortorella are going to do. That is, the Blue Jackets will look inwardly to the Lake Eerie Monsters, as opposed to outwardly (trades, free agents) to upgrade the team and shape it into a contender. And they have plenty to choose from, too, for example, defenseman Zach Werenski, and forwards Oliver Bjorkstrand, Josh Anderson, and Lukas Sedlak. Werenski only played 7 regular season games but came through in the playoffs with 5 goals, 9 assists, and 14 points in 17 games. Bjorkstrand recorded 17 goals, 12 assists, and 29 points in 51 regular season games, and 10 goals, 6 assists, and 16 points in 17 postseason games in 2015–16.
Anderson had 18 goals, 21 assists, and 39 points in 58 regular season games, and 7 goals, 5 assists, and 12 points in 15 playoffs games in 2015–16. And Sedlak had 16 points in 17 playoff games for Lake Erie. All three young men were instrumental in the Monsters’ road to victory in the AHL. And Anderson and Bjorkstrand have already had a taste of NHL ice as well. Additionally, Dubois had 42 goals, 57 assists, and 99 points in 62 regular season games, and 7 goals, 5 assists, and 12 points in 12 postseason games with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in 2015–16. The 23 year old Harrington also counts as a young prospect.
As if to underscore the fact that when the Blue Jackets bet on hockey they’re not limited to the NHL, Columbus has signed such undrafted free agents as center Justin Scott and defenseman Jacob Graves, both of whom come from the Ontario Hockey League. All things considered, the Blue Jackets seem to have no problem with growing their own stars to replace the likes of Jared Boll or Michael Chaput, even if it takes time. However, the offseason is far from over and Columbus NHL betting fans will surely be on the lookout to see what else the future – and Kekalainen and Tortorella – has in store for their hockey team.