Hey guys, Sven here with my analysis of the Columbus Blue Jackets! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material!  Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.

Forwards

Artemi Panarin – 81GP 27-55-82. As of early July, it was still uncertain whether Artemi Panarin would sign with Columbus long-term, or ask for a trade. Regardless of where he plays, the Bread Man is a pending UFA and will look to build off his career-high 82-point campaign last season, where he put the Blue Jackets on his back numerous times. With the maturity of young forwards Dubois and Milano, Panarin will hopefully have more help this season which could result in even more points for the 26-year-old. I expect him to be available somewhere in rounds 3-6 of your draft.

Cam Atkinson – 65GP 24-22-46. Atkinson definitely had an off-year overall, regressing 16 points from 2016-17. However, he did have a strong second-half, and I believe he will be able to build off of this momentum this season. Ranked #102 in ESPN fantasy pre-season, Atkinson could be a steal later in your draft, as he will likely play the wing on Columbus’ first line with Panarin and will have plenty opportunity to improve on last season.

Pierre-Luc Dubois – 82GP 20-28-48. Dubois had an impressive rookie season, nearly reaching 50 points and appearing in all 82 games. The big-bodied center skates very well for his size, and may even have the opportunity to centre Panarin’s line. This will certainly allow the sophomore to explode offensively, but we will wait for the pieces to fall into place for now. If he receives the minutes DailyFaceoff has him slated to play, I would highly consider taking Dubois late in any draft.

Alexander Wennberg – 66GP 8-27-35. Wennberg suffered a 24-point regression from 2016-17, and could be settling into more of a role player slot. However much like Dubois, his point capabilities for this season will depend on his line mates. As a pass first type player, Wennberg will likely see some PP time and will likely get top-six ice time down the middle for Columbus. For the time being, I would only consider Wennberg a late pick in deeper drafts, as he should get plenty of ice.

Josh Anderson – 63GP 19-11-30. In a forward corps that appears to be majority pass-first, Anderson’s scoring ability may boost him up the Blue Jackets lineup. With Nick Foligno’s spot in the top six potentially up for the taking, Anderson’s big body and high energy could be translated into a 30+ goal season. I do not expect him to be drafted in most leagues, however keep your eye out for where he plays in Columbus’ lineup.

Defence

Seth Jones – 78GP 16-41-57. Jones has seen his point totals steadily increase over the past three seasons, and at 23 years old I believe his prime has yet to come. With top-pair minutes and the QB position on the power play, I expect Jones to continue to improve on past seasons.

Zach Werenski – 77GP 16-21-37. After an amazing 47-point rookie campaign, Werenski cooled off ten points in his sophomore season. As the more offensive-minded defenceman in his pairing with Jones, I expect Werenski to end up somewhere right in the middle of his previous two seasons. Ranked #27 among defencemen by ESPN, Werenski is a low-risk option somewhere mid-draft given his top pair minutes and all-around awareness and vision.

Goalie

Sergei Bobrovsky – 65GP 2.42GAA 921SV%. Bobrovsky is ESPN’s third-ranked goaltender heading into this season, and I believe he will be able to almost repeat his numbers from last season. I tend to shy away from drafting a goaltender in the first three rounds, however Bob is a safe pick for your #1 goalie.

Rookies/Prospects

Maxime Fortier – QMJHL: 61GP 32-43-75. After a successful major-junior career, the Blue Jackets signed 20-year-old Fortier and he will report to Cleveland in the AHL to start the season. The crafty winger does not have a tremendous amount of size, but his energy and vision seems to make players around him better. With players like Anthony Duclair currently outside Columbus’ top 12 forwards, it is unlikely that Fortier will receive a call-up unless he has a stellar start to his pro career.

Liam Foudy – OHL: 65GP 24-16-40. Though Foudy is slated to return to the London Knights this year, I couldn’t help but have a look at him for a friend that knows him well. Columbus’ 2018 first-rounder seems to have found his footing in the OHL two seasons in, pushing the pace with his breakaway speed. I expect a great season out of Foudy, and perhaps finding himself in Columbus navy blue next season.

Vitaly Abramov – QMJHL: 56GP 45-59-104. A 2016 third-round selection, Abramov has spent three seasons tearing up major-junior and will turn pro this year with Cleveland. Despite a small 5-foot-9 frame, he seems to be a competitor and very difficult to knock off the puck. Much like Fortier, it is unlikely that either player will see NHL time unless they light up the AHL, or if Columbus runs into injury trouble.