Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season from a numerical standpoint, starting with the highest jersey number and counting down to the lowest. Today, BlueJackets.com examines Oliver Bjorkstrand's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2017-18 campaign.
Birthdate: April 10, 1995
Height/Weight: 6-0, 177
Oliver Bjorkstrand already had NHL experience, but last season was his first full campaign in the league.
He wasn't a rookie, but he also wasn't a seasoned veteran with an NHL track record of what to expect statistically. Bjorkstrand had eight points (four goals, four assists) in 12 games in 2015-16, in his first taste of the NHL, and then followed it up with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 26 games the following year.
Those 21 points in 38 games to begin his NHL career, an average of 0.55 points per game, made Bjorkstrand an intriguing case study heading into training camp a year ago. Using per-game averages based off those first two partial seasons, Bjorkstrand's projected offensive output worked out to be 21.6 goals, 23.7 assists and 45.3 points over the course of an 82-game regular season.
The 23-year old forward didn't quite live up to those numbers, going through some extended stretches without being heard from, but he finished just five behind that point projection - scoring 10 fewer goals than expected and assisting on six more.
Bjorkstrand showed flashes of the high-end offensive ability he displayed in junior hockey and the American Hockey League, but he didn't show it as consistently as he or the Blue Jackets would've liked.
Regardless, his 40-point season was good for fifth on the team in scoring and ranked behind only Cam Atkinson (46 points), Pierre-Luc Dubois (48 points), Seth Jones (57 points) and Artemi Panarin (82 points).
His focus points going into next season will be to shoot more often and contribute more consistently, but Bjorkstrand gave himself a good foundation to build upon in his first full slate of NHL action.
Here's a closer look at his 2017-18 season by the numbers:
Bjorkstrand finished the regular season with 11 goals. That's his career-high mark in the NHL, but it was also his first full season in the league. He played all 82 games, which works out to the lowest goals-per game (0.13) of his three NHL seasons. Bjorkstrand scored 63 goals in 59 games in 2014-15 for his junior team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He has the potential to score 20 goals, or more, in a full season.
What he lacked in goal-scoring, Bjorkstrand made up for with assists. He finished third on the team with 29 of them, including 20 during 5-on-5 play. Bjorkstrand also dished out 17 primary assists, which was also third-highest on the team. He averaged 0.35 assists per game, which was the highest assist ratio of his NHL career.
Only four Blue Jackets finished with more points last season than Bjorkstrand, who reached the 40-point plateau. In fact, he finished with 40 points on the nose for an average of 0.49 per game. Bjorkstrand had 13 points in 26 games in 2016-17, which was nearly the same scoring average (0.50 per game). Bjorkstrand had 55 points in 88 games split between two seasons in the American Hockey League (0.63 per game) and topped 100 points in each of his final two WHL seasons.
Bjorkstrand had the same PDO in NHL games over the past two seasons. A player's "PDO" measures a team's shooting percentage plus save percentage whenever a player is on the ice during 5-on-5, with the goal of quantifying good or bad fortune in regard to the player's statistical output. Exceeding 100 by a large amount means it's more likely some of the offensive success was due to good luck. Falling far short of 100 is an indicator the player has had a run of poor luck. Through parts of his first three NHL seasons (102 games), Bjorkstrand has a 101.1 career PDO, with the past two finishing at nearly 100 exact.
During the Blue Jackets' playoff series against the Washington Capitals this past season, Bjorkstrand had three points on a goal and two assists. He only had three shots on goal, though, which gave him a shooting percentage of 33.3 percent over those six games. Bjorkstrand finished the regular season with 163 shots, or 1.99 per game, but one of the common criticisms of his game was that he didn't use his sneaky-good shot enough.
Bjorkstrand's highest point streak of the season was three games, which he strung together three times. The first was Nov. 2-6, when he had four points (three goals, one assist) in three straight road games against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. The second was Dec. 12-16, when he totaled six points (one goal, five assists) against the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes. The final trio of consecutive games with at least a point was Feb. 10-14, when he had five points (two goals, three assists) in games against the New Jersey Devils, Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.