Thursday, August 9, 2018

Columbus Blue Jackets fantasy preview for 2018-19

Artemi Panarin, C/LW* ( rank: 31) -- He had an NHL career-high 82 points (27 goals, 55 assists), including 21 power-play points, 228 shots on goal and a plus-23 rating in 81 games last season. However, Panarin is a possible 2019 unrestricted free agent and could be traded before or during the season. He's scored at least 27 goals and 74 points in each of his three NHL seasons and has the potential for 90 points this season, especially if he carries over his late-season chemistry with center Pierre-Luc Dubois and right wing Cam Atkinson.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G* (38) -- The 2016-17 Vezina Trophy winner regressed in goals-against average (2.06 to 2.42), save percentage (.931 to .921) and shutouts (seven to five) last season. After winning 41 games in 63 starts two seasons ago, he took a slight step back with 37 wins in 65 starts. However, the 29-year-old has been consistent with at least 30 wins and a .918 SV% in four of the past five seasons, and he should excel in his contract year. Bobrovsky is in the upper echelon of fantasy goalies and should be one of the first five selected at his position.
Seth Jones, D (58) -- He had 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists), a plus-10 rating, 24 PPP and 249 SOG last season, each an NHL career high. Jones took nearly 100 more SOG in 2017-18 than the previous season (152), going from 2.02 SOG per game to 3.19. Anchoring the first power-play unit, Jones is in the top 10 at his position in fantasy with a ceiling among the top five.
Cam Atkinson, RW (101) -- Two seasons ago, Atkinson scored 35 goals and had 62 points, 21 PPP and a 14.6 shooting percentage, each an NHL career high. Last season, he was limited to 65 games because of injury, scored 24 goals and saw his power-play production slip (10 PPP). If healthy, he's a candidate for 30 goals on a line with Panarin and Dubois. Atkinson had a strong finish to the regular season (37 points in final 39 games) and an impressive showing at the 2018 IIHF World Championship (11 points in 10 games for the United States).
Zach Werenski, D** (106) -- The 21-year-old scored more goals (16) and had more SOG (207) last season than he did as a rookie in 2016-17 (11 goals, 188 SOG). However, he had 10 fewer points (37), went from plus-17 to plus-8, and had 10 PPP, compared to 21 two seasons ago. The dip in production means Werenski could slip in drafts, making him a potential defenseman bargain. In his third NHL season, expect Werenski to put up numbers closer to his rookie season, when he was a finalist for the Calder Trophy and finished among the top 20 fantasy defensemen.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW (134) -- In his first NHL season, Dubois tied for seventh in goals among rookies with 20 and had 48 points, third on the Blue Jackets. Dubois was plus-8 and had 15 PPP, also third on Columbus. He had 165 SOG (12.1 shooting percentage) and played center on the top line with Panarin and Atkinson down the stretch. Even if he's not with Panarin, Dubois has a chance to take a big step forward this season and finish among the top 100 with Atkinson.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW (231) -- The upside is there for the 23-year-old, who had 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) in 82 games in his first full NHL season. He has room for improvement on the power play (nine PPP) and could end up on the first unit, especially if Panarin is traded. Bjorkstrand will likely go undrafted in standard leagues but should be on your radar as an early-season pickup. If second-line center Alexander Wennberg (35 points; eight goals, 27 assists in 66 games) bounces back, don't be surprised if Bjorkstrand is along for the ride.
Other players with fantasy upside in late rounds or off waiver wire: Alexander Wennberg, C (237); Nick Foligno, C/LW/RW (247), Boone Jenner, C/LW; Josh Anderson, RW; Markus Nutivaara, D
*Potential 2019 unrestricted free agent
**Potential 2019 restricted free agent

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