After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Columbus Blue Jackets:
2020-21 season: 18-26-12, tied for last in Discover Central Division; did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs
Adam Boqvist, D: Boqvist, who turns 21 on Aug. 15, was acquired July 23 along with a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft (No. 12; forward Cole Sillinger), a second-round choice in the 2021 draft (No. 44; traded to Carolina Hurricanes) and a first-round pick in the 2022 or 2023 NHL Draft in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Seth Jones, a first-round pick in the 2021 draft (No. 32; defenseman Nolan Allen) and a sixth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft. After scoring 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 35 games last season, Boqvist will get a chance to play on the top two defense pairs and on the power play. … Jakub Voracek, F: Voracek, who turns 32 on Aug. 15, was acquired July 24 in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Cam Atkinson. He scored 43 points (nine goals, 34 assists) in 53 games for Philadelphia last season. … Sean Kuraly, F: The 28-year-old signed a four-year contract July 28 after five seasons with the Boston Bruins. He scored nine points (four goals, five assists) in 47 games last season. … Jake Bean, D: The 23-year-old was acquired July 23 in a trade with the Hurricanes for the 2021 second-round pick from the Jones-Boqvist trade. He scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 42 games as a rookie for Carolina last season. … Brad Larsen, coach: The 44-year-old was promoted June 10 to replace John Tortorella after seven seasons as a Blue Jackets assistant.
Seth Jones, D: He scored 28 points (five goals, 23 assists) in 56 games last season and led Columbus in average ice time (25:14) for the sixth straight season but was traded after declining to sign a contract extension. Jones holds the Blue Jackets records for assists (173) and points (223) by a defenseman. … Cam Atkinson, F: He scored 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 56 games last season. Atkinson is second in Blue Jackets history in games (627; Rick Nash, 674), goals (213; Nash, 289) and points (402; Nash, 547), and fourth in assists (189). … Michael Del Zotto, D: He agreed to a two-year contract with the Ottawa Senators on July 28 after scoring 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and averaging 17:53 in ice time in 53 games last season. … Mikhail Grigorenko, F: He returned to his native Russia, signing a three-year contract with CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League on July 3, after scoring 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 32 games last season. … John Tortorella, coach: The Blue Jackets announced May 9 that he would not return as coach after six seasons. Tortorella’s 227 regular-season wins (227-166-54) and 13 playoff victories (13-18) are the most in Blue Jackets history.
On the cusp
Yegor Chinaknov, F: The 20-year-old will make the jump to North America after winning the Alexei Cherapanov Award as KHL rookie of the year last season, when he scored 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 32 games and helped Omsk win the Gagarin Cup. … Daniil Tarasov, G: The 22-year-old is Columbus’ top goalie prospect and might end up in the NHL before the end of the season if Joonas Korpisalo or Elvis Merzlikins is traded. Tarasov was 4-2-0 with a 3.16 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage in six games with Cleveland of the American Hockey League after he was 11-3-2 with a 2.07 GAA, a .925 save percentage and two shutouts in 16 games with Ufa in the KHL last season.
What they still need
A right-shot defenseman. Boqvist and Andrew Peeke are the Blue Jackets’ only righties at the position. Adding another center would also be helpful with Max Domi expected to be sidelined until December following shoulder surgery.
They said it
“We had some pretty good success with the group that we had here and the core pieces that we had here. We got into the playoffs four times in a row and got a little bit of playoff success as well. But we haven’t had any parades here, so we had to make changes.” — general manager Jarmo Kekalainen
Voracek going back to Columbus is an underrated move from a fantasy standpoint because of his high ceiling as a two-time 80-point scorer for the Flyers. Voracek has had five seasons of at least 23 power-play points and should improve the Blue Jackets on the man-advantage and make forward Patrik Laine an even more intriguing fantasy bounce-back candidate. Laine could play on Voracek’s opposite wing and give each player renewed fantasy upside in later rounds. — Pete Jensen
Patrik Laine — Jack Roslovic — Jakub Voracek
Gustav Nyquist — Alexandre Texier — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gregory Hoffman — Boone Jenner — Liam Foudy
Eric Robinson — Sean Kuraly — Emil Bemstrom
Zach Werenski — Adam Boqvist
Vladislav Gavrikov — Dean Kukan
Jake Bean — Andrew Peeke