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31 in 31

Columbus Blue Jackets fantasy preview for 2017-18

Panarin, Wennberg should thrive on top line; Bobrovsky remains elite goalie

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

As part of NHL.com's 31 in 31 series, our fantasy hockey staff is breaking down each team's fantasy landscape. Fantasy-relevant players are listed in order of rank in NHL.com's top 250. Today, we look at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 

[COLUMBUS 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Behind the numbers | More team fantasy previews]

 

FORWARDS

Artemi Panarin, LW -- The 25-year-old was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 23. Even though Panarin will no longer be on a line with elite right wing Patrick Kane, he's still in a favorable spot alongside likely Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson on the top line and first power-play unit. Panarin is tied for seventh in points over the past two seasons (151 in 162 games) and ranks fourth in even-strength points (110) in the span. Columbus was sixth in goals-per game (3.01) last season, so Panarin is still worth at least an early-third round pick in any format.

Cam Atkinson, RW -- He's increased his goal total in each of his six NHL seasons, including a career-high 35 last season (T-8th in League). Atkinson also had NHL career-highs in every other standard offensive category with 27 assists, 62 points, a plus-13, 21 power-play points, 240 shots on goal. Columbus has one of the deepest forward groups in the League, and Atkinson, who has missed a total of eight games over the past four years, is a fringe top 50 overall asset.

Alexander Wennberg, C (RFA) -- After an NHL career-high 13 goals, 46 assists and 59 points last season, Wennberg could expand on those totals if he starts the season as the first-line center alongside Panarin and either Atkinson or Nick Foligno. Wennberg is not a goal scorer or high-volume shooter, but should continue to rack up assists in all situations, especially on the first power-play unit with defenseman Zach Werenski. The best part is you'll likely be able to draft Wennberg outside the top 125 overall.

Video: CBJ@NYR: Wennberg buries rebound on backhand in 2nd

Nick Foligno, LW/RW - The power forward rebounded nicely in goals (26) and points (51 in 79 games) compared to his underachieving 2015-16 season (12 goals, 37 points in 72 games). But with the addition of Panarin, coach John Tortorella could move Foligno off Wennberg's line, limiting Foligno's even-strength production. Even with solid penalty minutes and power-play totals, Foligno may be bound for a step back.

Brandon Dubinsky, C (INJ.) -- The 31-year-old is expected to be ready for training camp after offseason wrist surgery. Dubinsky provides consistent coverage of points, PIMs and hits, and even tied an NHL career high with a plus-16 last season. Outside of those categories, his power-play production and shots are average at best. Look for him in late rounds or off the waiver wire depending on your league format.

Boone Jenner, C/LW -- His goal, assist, point and PIMs totals all dropped last season following his breakout 30-goal, 49-point season in 2015-16. Jenner did eclipse 210 SOG for the second straight season but saw his power-play role reduced (he had no power-play goals after nine in 2015-16). His offensive numbers likely won't improve this season, but he has added value in a hits league (at least 200 in each of his three full NHL seasons).

 

DEFENSEMEN

Zach Werenski -- He led rookie defensemen in each of the six standard fantasy categories last season; he had 11 goals, 36 assists, 47 points, 21 PPP, a plus-17 and 188 SOG to finish 10th among defensemen in Yahoo. Werenski likely will be drafted in the 51-75 range overall -- the same territory as more proven defensemen like Kris Letang, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber. But after the Blue Jackets added Panarin, Werenski could feasibly build on his totals and exceed 50 points this season.

Video: PIT@CBJ, Gm3: Werenski goes top shelf for PPG

Seth Jones -- The 22-year-old is coming off his best NHL season; he had a career-high 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists) in 75 games. Paired mostly with Werenski, Jones finished tied for sixth in even-strength points (35) and could be along for the ride if the Blue Jackets take another step forward. Except for PIMs (90 in 315 NHL games) and PPP (40 in career), Jones is a well-rounded fantasy option who should be available after the 10th round in a standard format.

 

GOALTENDING

Sergei Bobrovsky -- The two-time Vezina Trophy winner may have a tough time topping his 41 wins, 2.06 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and seven shutouts from last season. But if the Blue Jackets avoid injuries and remain among the NHL's highest-scoring offenses, Bobrovsky should finish among the top five fantasy goalies for the second straight season. He's worth picking in the third round of a fantasy draft or once goaltenders Carey Price, Matt Murray and Braden Holtby are off the board.

Others to consider: Jack Johnson (D), David Savard (D), Sonny Milano (LW), Josh Anderson (RW), Pierre-Luc Dubois (C)

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