The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost a lot of experience since the offseason through trades and injuries. Some of the players the team lost are former captain Nick Foligno, veteran Boone Jenner, and former defenseman David Savard.
While the loss of talent and leadership has been disastrous for the team (who are now on a seven-game skid), it has been great for players who have been waiting for an opportunity to showcase their skills.
Part one of the series discussing players making the most of this opportunity will be looking at three of the future stars for the Blue Jackets. We explore what they have done for the team and what it means for the future of the organization.
Blue Jackets’ Young Difference Makers
For the young player category, this piece will be looking at three players who have played less than 50 games for the Blue Jackets and have made a difference in the last six games (the games after Foligno and Savard’s last game for Columbus). Those players are Jack Roslovic, Josh Dunne, and Kole Sherwood.
Since the Blue Jackets traded Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine and Roslovic in January, Roslovic surprisingly became the most consistent piece of the trade. He has been a solid addition for the Blue Jackets, but he has become even better in the past six games.
In those games, Roslovic has had two goals and one assist. Included in those goals was one on the power play in Columbus’ last game. He also won the faceoff to start that power play, allowing the setup that made that goal possible. He has also had seven scoring chances for (SCF), two considered high danger chances for (HDCF).
When Roslovic has been on the ice this season, the Blue Jackets have had Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 48.7%, meaning that Columbus took 48.7 percent of shot attempts in the game. In the last six, that has risen to 55.31%, meaning that over 50 percent of shot attempts were for Columbus when he was on the ice.
It is clear that Roslovic is using this opportunity to help the team and cement his place on the roster.
Another young player making a difference is Dunne.
He may not have any goals, but that’s not to say he hasn’t come close in his four games with the Blue Jackets this season. In those contests, Dunne has five scoring SCF, and all of them have been HDCF. The closest was a wrap-around attempt Monday that Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was just able to stop. The team has also had a CF% of 52.7% when he is on the ice.
Dunne has also been willing to put his body on the line for the sake of the team. In his four games, he has eight hits and four blocked shots.
While this four-game sample is small, it shows that Dunne has the potential to be an offensive weapon and a physical player for the Blue Jackets.
The last of the young talent that has been noticeable since being given an opportunity is Sherwood.
Sherwood recorded his first NHL point against the Chicago Blackhawks on April 12 with a secondary assist on a Stefan Matteau goal. He has also come close to many more points. He has four SCF and three HDCF. In his five games, the Blue Jackets also have a CF% of 55%.
Sherwood has also made a difference when it comes to physicality. In the games he has played, he has recorded 19 hits and has only taken eight hits.
He also has brought energy when his team has needed it the most in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to the Panthers. After Panthers center Sam Bennett scored, putting the Blue Jackets down 3-1, Sherwood dropped his gloves with Florida left wing Ryan Lomberg off the faceoff.
Sherwood has shown he is willing to check and play hard to grind out points and bring the injury, even if it is at the expense of his own body.
The Blue Jackets Have a Bright Future
If these young players have proven anything with the opportunity they have been given, it is that they are willing to play hard for the team and have the ability to be offensive weapons. No matter how bad the Blue Jackets have looked in their last six games, many talented players still exist on the roster and put the team in a good position. These players have shown that the organization has a very bright future.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.