In this week's Eastern Edge, I'll continue highlighting important fantasy hockey takeaways for each team in the Eastern Conference. I tried to include information from the 2019-2020 campaign that may be forgotten during this extended offseason. Hopefully, these reminders will be useful when NHL action eventually resumes. This is the second of four installments, where we'll cover Columbus, Detroit and Florida. Check out last week's article where we highlighted key storylines from Boston, Buffalo and Carolina.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Bjorkstrand's Breakout
If you're a frequent reader of our articles here at DobberHockey, you're probably familiar with Oliver Bjorkstrand. For some time now, many of our writers – including Dobber himself – have been endorsing Bjorkstrand as someone to target in fantasy hockey leagues. Bjorkstrand broke out in a big way this year, tallying 36 points through 49 games – a 60-point-pace! He had a slow start to the season but eventually found his stride, posting 30 points in his 30 most recent appearances. Bjorkstrand's breakout was supported by a huge increase in ice time, as he jumped from less than 15 minutes of action in recent seasons, all the way up to 18 minutes this year. With this increased role, he emerged as a high-volume shooter, averaging 3.3 shots per game.
Despite our rigorous coverage of Bjorkstrand this year, I fear that an 'out of sight, out of mind' mentality might cause you to underestimate his fantasy hockey value. For starters, with the NHL season on hold, Bjorkstrand's 30-game stretch of point-per-game production is becoming a distant memory that gets easier to forget with each passing day. This 'out of sight, out of mind' effect is intensified for Bjorkstrand because he only appeared in 49 games this year – missing two significant stretches of the season due to an ankle and rib injury. In addition, his strong performance isn't even the most compelling hockey story out of Columbus this year, as we witnessed a 20-goal campaign from defenseman Zach Werenski and an insane stretch from rookie netminder Elvis Merlikins – who posted an eight-game winning streak that included five shutout