After the draft, the opening of the free agent market and several staff moves during the offseason, NHL.com is profiling the various teams for the 2023-24 season, which begins on October 10. Today, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
MANAGEMENT 2023-24: Ducks | Bruins | coyotes | Sabers | Hurricanes | Flames | Blackhawks
Record in 2022-23 : 25-48-9, eighth in the Metropolitan section, excluded from the playoffs
Best striker : Boone Jenner (26)
Best passer : Johnny Gaudreau (53)
Best scorer : Gaudreau (74)
- Adam Fantilli (A)
- Damon Severson (D)
- Ivan Provorov (D)
- Alexandre Texier (A)
- Mike Babcock (Head Coach)
Fantilli will turn 19 on October 12, the night of the Blue Jackets’ very first game of the season, which will face the Philadelphia Flyers. The team sees him as a player already capable of playing in the top-6. Fantilli, the third pick in the 2023 draft, could become a concession player at center. Last year, he became the third freshman to win the Hobey-Baker Trophy, awarded to the NCAA’s most valuable player. Paul Kariya (Maine, 1993) and Jack Eichel (Boston University, 2015) were the other two. He had 65 points (30 goals, 35 assists) with the University of Michigan this season, which allowed him to finish first in NCAA scoring.
Severson was obtained from the New Jersey Devils on June 8, and can be expected to find himself to the right of the team’s top defenseman, Zach Werensky, in addition to acting as a leader. He recorded 33 points (seven goals, 26 assists) in 81 games with the Devils last year.
Provorov was acquired in a trade with the Flyers – which also included the Los Angeles Kings – on June 6. The 28-year-old guard, who averages 24:05 GP in 532 career games, is expected to play behind Werenski at left on second pair. He had 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) in 82 games last year.
Video: PHI@CHI: Provorov gives Flyers victory
A familiar face will return to Columbus next year in Texier. The 23-year-old forward was drafted by the Blue Jackets in the second round (45th) in 2017 and he played with the organization from 2019 to 2022. The Frenchman was granted permission to leave the team last year to personal reasons, and he played the campaign in the Swiss National League with the Zurich Lions. In 123 NHL games, he had 49 points (22 goals, 27 assists).
There will also be something new behind the players’ bench with the arrival of Babcock, who replaced Brad Larsen on July 1. The 60-year-old hasn’t coached in the NHL since being fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2019. He won the Stanley Cup in 2008 while coaching the Detroit Red Wings and he appears 11th in NHL history in wins with a record of 700-418-183 (.608) in 1,301 games with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Red Wings and Maple Leafs. His experience could help the many young elements of the team.
- Gavin Bayreuther (D)
- Brad Larsen (Head Coach)
Bayreuther played 51 games for the Blue Jackets last season, but with the arrival of Provorov and Severson and the emergence of young fullbacks, his services were no longer needed. He signed with the Dallas Stars, the team he started his career with in 2018-19.
Larsen went 62-86-16 in 164 games (.427) in two seasons with the Blue Jackets. He was fired on April 15, a decision general manager Jarmo Kekalainen called « absolutely necessary ».
They knock on the door
- David Jiricek (D)
- Dmitry Voronkov (A)
- Daniel Tarasov (G)
Jiricek, 19, was the sixth overall pick in the 2022 draft and appears to be on the fast track to securing a full-time NHL job.
Voronkov has spent the past five seasons with the KHL’s Ak Bars Kazan, and has 74 points (37 goals, 37 assists) in 182 career games. The 22-year-old forward is 6-foot-4 and weighs 192 pounds, and he likes to play physical. He should start his career on the third or fourth line, center or wing.
Tarasov has been shuttling between the NHL, the AHL and the nursing home for three seasons, having suffered multiple injuries and required hip surgery in January 2022. He was 4-11-1 with a 3.91 goals-against average and .892 save percentage last season with the Blue Jackets. He could challenge for the No. 1 spot if Merzlikins has another bad season. Tarasov must go on waivers if sent to the AHL, which suggests he will start the season with the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets need a goaltender with NHL experience who can step in if Merzlikins or Tarasov gets hurt. Currently, their third keeper is Jet Greaves, who is 22 with only partial NHL experience and 72 with Cleveland the past two seasons.
what they said
“When you look at the last season, many of our players haven’t had a good year. We believe they are able to offer more. And with the players we’ve added, what is our potential? I don’t have that answer. I would like to have it. What I do know is that when you have good habits, positives will come out of them. When you work hard, you will be rewarded. That’s what we’re going to do. » – Babcock
Planned training 2023-24
Johnny Gaudreau — Boone Jenner — Patrick Laine
Kent Johnson — Adam Fantilli — Kirill Marchenko
Alexandre Texier — Cole Sillinger — Jack Roslovic
Eric Robinson — Sean Kuraly — Matthew Olivier
Zach Werenski — Damon Severson
Ivan Provorov — Adam Boqvist
Nick Blankenburg — Eric Gudbranson