The 2021-22 season has gotten off to a great start for the Columbus Blue Jackets players. Although it is far too early to make any assessments, there have been plenty of good performances. Going with those performances are a few names to watch in this season for the Blue Jackets.
Blue Jackets Players to Watch in 2021-22
There are obvious names like Zach Werenski and Patrik Laine, but there are a few lesser-known names to keep an eye on. These players could very easily perform well above expectations and push the Jackets back into respectability.
Merzlikins, 27, has been a name on Columbus fans’ lips for a long time coming. The excitement from the home crowd was realized by a national audience during the 2019-20 season when Merzlikins won 13 games and racked up a .923 save percentage.
His numbers did drop off a bit last year; But when you look at the performances last season under John Tortorella, it is hard to lay blame on goaltending. The Jackets made the coaching change to Brad Larsen and fortified the roster in front of him. With Larsen being more offensive, and a strong core, expect a bounceback season from Merzlikins.
Roslovic was seen by many to be an extra part of the Laine-Dubois trade. Someone that would slot into the bottom six. That did not, however, work out quite as many had expected. Roslovic returned to his home state of Ohio and put up the best numbers of his still-young career. He posted 12 goals and 22 assists in 48 games.
It remains to be seen as to whether Roslovic can keep that 58-point pace over a full season, but with ice time staying above 14 minutes per game and playing alongside the likes of Gustav Nyquist and Oliver Bjorkstrand, it would not be at all outside the realm of possibilities to see Roslovic hit the 60-point mark and become a veritable top-six center.
Bjorkstrand’s name pops up for the second time here, unsurprisingly. The team will rely on the 26-year-old Danish forward heavily this season for goals. Through the first two games, he already has two, a great start to help the Jackets to 2-0-0.
Bjorkstrand can, at times, be a bit streaky. If the consistency can be dialled in under what is likely going to be a far more offensive coaching staff than previous years, Bjorkstrand could easily notch a 30-plus goal season, something the Blue Jackets direly need in their top six to compete in a very tough Metropolitan Division.
Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist
The Blue Jackets blue line corps has a new, and much younger, look to it this season. With the additions of Jake Bean, 23, and Adam Boqvist, 21, it has become very apparent that Brad Larsen and Jarmo Kekalainen are focusing on rebuilding what was once viewed as one of the most promising defensive organizations in the NHL.
Bean was a highly touted prospect in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, being selected 13th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. He finally got his chance last season in the NHL and put up 12 points in 42 games. That’s all in second/third pairing minutes (14:32/game). With Bean being slotted in alongside Zach Werenski early on and seeing upwards of 20 minutes per game, this could be the breakout season for the young defenseman.
Boqvist is much the same story as the aforementioned Bean, a young and highly touted prospect. Boqvist had 16 points in 35 games last season for the Chicago Blackhawks. This is quite impressive given the fact that he only averaged 16:59 of ice time per game. So far in this young season, Boqvist has slotted in alongside Vladislav Gavrikov, but don’t be surprised if you see him and Bean switch back and forth between the first and second pairing respectively.
Promising Players Make for Good Prospects
While the Blue Jackets are not expected to be a playoff team or even be in the top half of their division by many, these promising players could make for good prospects throughout the 2021-22 season. If they are able to deliver as many believe they can, look for the Blue Jackets to be in far more respectable standing than they were in 2020-21.
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