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Team Reset

Blue Jackets power play should receive boost from Panarin

Columbus man-advantage more dangerous following acquisition of forward

by Ben Zweiman @BZweimanNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Columbus Blue Jackets:

The Columbus Blue Jackets made one of the bigger trades this summer following the best season in their history.

After setting Columbus records for wins (50) and points (108), the Blue Jackets acquired left wing Artemi Panarin in a trade from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 23. Panarin should bolster the Columbus power play, which ranked 12th in the NHL last season (19.9 percent).

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

The Blue Jackets had a 16-game winning streak from Nov. 29 to Jan. 3, second-longest in NHL history behind the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins, who won 17 in a row. Despite a five-game loss to the Stanley Cup champion Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Columbus has plenty to be excited about heading into this season under coach John Tortorella.

Here is what the Blue Jackets look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Artemi Panarin, F: After signing with the Blackhawks from the Kontinental Hockey League on May 1, 2015, Panarin won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie in the NHL in 2015-16, when he had 77 points (30 goals, 47 assists) in 80 games. He had 74 points (31 goals, 43 assists) in 82 games last season. … Tyler Motte, F: Motte was acquired from the Blackhawks as part of the Panarin trade. A fourth-round pick (No. 121) by Chicago in the 2013 NHL Draft, Motte, 22, had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 33 games as a rookie last season. … Jordan Schroeder, F: The 26-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on June 23. Selected by the Wild with the No. 22 pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Schroeder had an NHL career-high 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 37 games last season.

Video: CBJ@CHI: Panarin nets PPG in opening minute

 

Key departures

Brandon Saad, F: Saad was traded back to the Blackhawks as part of the Panarin trade after being acquired from Chicago on June 30, 2015. The 24-year-old had 53 points in back-to-back seasons for the Blue Jackets, with 55 goals and 51 assists in 160 regular-season games. … Sam Gagner, F: After setting an NHL career high with 50 points (18 goals, 32 assists) in 81 games with Columbus, Gagner signed a three-year, $9.45 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1 as an unrestricted free agent. He was a key part of the Blue Jackets power play, finishing with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) on the man-advantage. … Scott Hartnell, F: Columbus bought out the final two years of Hartnell's contract on June 29. The 35-year-old had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games last season, his lowest total in a full NHL season since 2003-04. The Blue Jackets acquired Hartnell in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on June 23, 2014, and he had 146 points (64 goals, 82 assists) in 234 games the past three seasons for Columbus. He signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Nashville Predators on July 1. … William Karlsson, F: The Vegas Golden Knights selected Karlsson in the NHL Expansion Draft on June 21. The Blue Jackets acquired Karlsson from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade on March 2, 2015. The 24-year-old set an NHL career high with 25 points (six goals, 19 assists) in 81 games last season.

 

On the cusp

Pierre-Luc Dubois, F: The 19-year-old was selected by the Blue Jackets with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft after scoring 99 points (42 goals, 57 assists) in 62 games for Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2015-16. Dubois followed up that season with 55 points (21 goals, 34 assists) in 48 games for Cape Breton and Blainville, and had 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 19 QMJHL playoff games. … Sonny Milano, F: The 21-year-old was selected with the No. 16 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. He had 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 54 games for Lake Erie of the American Hockey League in 2015-16, helping it win the Calder Cup with eight points (four goals, four assists) in 17 playoff games. He led the Blue Jackets' top affiliate with 47 points (18 goals, 29 assists) in 63 games last season.

Video: CBJ@BOS: Milano squeezes a goal past Khudobin

 

What they still need

Top-six center. It's been reported the Blue Jackets have interest in Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, but general manager Jarmo Kekalainen has said he won't mortgage the future in a trade for a center, including Duchene. If Kekalainen can't make a trade for an established center to play in front of or behind Alexander Wennberg, the Blue Jackets will rely on veteran Brandon Dubinsky, who had 41 points last season and is better suited as center of the third line. Dubois could eventually fill the role behind Wennberg, but that likely won't be this season.

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus

The addition of Panarin should make the Blue Jackets power play even more dangerous; he joins defenseman Zach Werenski and forwards Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and Wennberg. But how will Panarin fit into Tortorella's system? Will he end up alongside a playmaking center like Wennberg or the gritty Dubinsky? If the line combinations don't work smoothly, Panarin's even-strength point production could dip significantly compared to his days playing with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov in Chicago. Buyer beware if drafting Panarin in the top 20.

 

Projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Alexander Wennberg -- Josh Anderson

Sonny Milano -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno -- Boone Jenner -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Matt Calvert -- Lukas Sedlak -- Jordan Schroeder

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Markus Nutivaara -- Ryan Murray

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

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