Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Columbus Blue Jackets
For the last 12 years over at The Hockey News, I have reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them. Now that I am no longer with THN, my 13th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – Campbell replaces Letestu and probably upgrades the role. Saad replaces Dano and upgrades the offensive upside and experience at the cost of some grit. With the emergence of Alexander Wennberg, the need for Anisimov is gone.
Ready for full-time – William Karlsson showed in 21 games last year that he's ready for the NHL. Now 22, he'll have to earn his ice time. And he's still in an area of his career where he'll be sent down to the AHL pretty quickly if he doesn't produce. Karlsson boasts intriguing upside, but we won't get to see it unless a key forward is injured and he gets a shot on a scoring line.
Michael Chaput is a former Memorial Cup MVP who has reinvented his game to become more of a defensive player. Although he's been close to an NHL regular for two years now, he's still only 23 and has plenty of time. But he'll never be a fantasy asset.
Sonny Milano is about a year away from making this team. But his skill is so high end that perhaps he forces the issue. But in his AHL stint to end last season he had five points in 10 games and was a minus-7, which doesn't scream "I'm gonna force the issue".
Like Milano, Kerby Rychel is also a former first rounder and he actually saw some action with the big club in 2014-15, posting three points (plus-3) in five games. He has NHL size and will probably be the first player the team calls up when there is an injury. How many games he plays will depend on how healthy the team is.
Anton Forsberg is the top prospect goalie in the system. He did get into five games last season, but lost four of them and posted a dismal 0.866 SV%. In the AHL though, he dominated – 20-8-0, 2.01 and 0.927. He'll be in the AHL again but I get the sense that the team will start transitioning him to the NHL by calling him up for spot starts. I think he starts as many games this season as backup Curtis McElhinney.
Fantasy Outlook – A young organization with many players that have upside, though not elite upside other than maybe Ryan Johansen, Milano and recent draftee defenseman Zach Werenski. The pipeline is average to above average. The Blue Jackets were 13th in the league in goals per game last year and fifth in power-play proficiency, and those numbers should actually improve a little. A decent team to build your fantasy squad around.
Fantasy Grade: B (last year was B-)