Parker Michaels continues his NHL Season Preview series in reverse to first order according to his projected standings. Be sure to bookmark our Season Previews home base here where links to all 31 teams will appear as they’re posted. Today at No. 9, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Stanley Cup: +3000 (Bovada)
Eastern Conference: +1446 (Bookmaker)
Metropolitan Division: +600 (Bovada)
Regular Season Points: 96.5 (-110) (Bookmaker), 97.5 (-105, -125) (Bovada), 97.5 (+100, -120) (BetOnline)
Make Playoffs: YES -280, NO +220 (BetOnline), YES -300, NO +240 (Bovada)
Current odds as of October 1, 2018
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
*Individual Player Ratings represent how many points in the standings each player is directly responsible for over the course of the full season and is called Point Shares. It involves the base formula created by Justin Kubatko at hockey-reference.com. An explanation of how I further use his methods can be found here with a more detailed methodology by Kubatko himself, here. The average value for a forward is 3.5 and a defenseman is 4.4 Point Shares
*Salaries in green denote entry-level contract
NHL RANK: 18
NHL RANK: 10
NHL RANK: 12
*NOTE: It was believed Ryan Murray may have been ready for opening night but was placed on IR today, after I had finished this preview (of course). Carlsson will slide up into the top-six unless Columbus claims someone off waivers or makes a trade. This will lower the Jackets overall points slightly which will be updated Tuesday night in a final recap article.
NHL RANK: 12
NHL RANK: 11
NHL RANK: 5
(Starter – 1, Backup – 61)
Columbus’ depth chart could look exactly like this on opening night or ninety-percent different. The only thing for certain is the top line of Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson as head coach John Tortorella said he has no idea how the other three forward lines will shake out, although the above lines should be very close.
The Blue Jackets project to have one of the best defenses in the league – when healthy. Seth Jones was one of the top Norris candidates entering the season before suffering an MCL sprain in a preseason game which will sideline him for four-to-six weeks. He is expected to miss between 7-15 games overall. His Point Shares projection for the full season was 10.1 and has been lowered to 8.9 based on him missing ten games.
Third pair defender Scott Harrington is also expected to miss the beginning of the season along with the possibility of second pair player Ryan Murray. That means Markus Nutivaara is likely to move up from the second pair left side to the top pair beside Zach Werenski, who is also just coming back from an injury. Depth defenders Dean Kukan, Adam Clendening and Gabriel Carlsson will all be thrust into action.
While the situation on defense is a mess to begin the season, it should only cost Columbus about two projected points in the standings, although it feels like it should be a much bigger deal than that. Werenski and Nutivaara are still two excellent defenders and the team will lean heavily on them early on. Columbus also has the strength of the top projected goaltender in the league with Sergei Bobrovsky. Both his total Point Shares and per game projection are the highest in the NHL and the main reason the Jackets should be able to withstand the loss of Jones.
My point projection of 101.9 is above the current market at offshore sportsbooks who are offering 96.5 to 97.5 overall. There would be some value on the over at those numbers but with the current uncertainly surrounding the club, I am going to pass on the regular season point total bet.
Current Stanley Cup Futures list Columbus on average from 11th to 13th, just below my projection of 9th overall. It does not seem like there has been a huge overreaction to the Jackets Futures odds in wake of the injury news and Columbus still warrants a very good chance of finishing high in the standings. I think there is currently a bit of value in the +3000 number at Bovada but am going to pass currently. Unless Columbus gets off to a hot start (which seems unlikely) then they should see a small bump when the first adjusted odds come out later this month. There is also the uncertainty of whether the team will end up having to trade Panarin and Bobrovsky before the trade deadline as both refused to sign extensions this summer and will become unrestricted free agents after the season. It might be best to wait on Columbus Futures until the new year and see if both players remain with the team.
Regarding prop bets for awards, Bobrovsky is the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina at +450 at Bovada. While I do project him to be the top goaltender this season, he has looked shaky in the preseason and could be distracted this year with the contract situation. He has every reason to play well though with a potential huge payday on the horizon and I am sure he will settle in once the season begins, but the value is not there at this price, so I will hold off on this bet. A better price can likely be found at some point later in the season.
The only other Blue Jacket listed is Panarin under the Rocket Richard, Art Ross and Hart categories. Panarin has scored 30, 31 and 27 goals in each of his three NHL seasons but is as much a playmaker as anything so I would rule him out for the top goal scorer and unless we can rearrange the letters of his name to spell C-o-n-n-o-r-M-c-D-a-v-i-d, I am not interested in throwing money down for the Art Ross. The Hart is maybe the most interesting as he is one of the more intriguing longshots at +5000. He is probably my favorite selection past the Vladimir Tarasenko +3300 I recommended the other day, but I am going to pass.
Salary numbers from capfriendly.com, stats from hockey-reference.com and naturalstattrick.com