Fantasy Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets

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Scott Cullen
9/17/2013 1:08:48 PM
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While expectations might be raised by the Columbus Blue Jackets' finish to last season, they don't have the kind of talent that will attract significant fantasy interest this season.

Top Picks: Marian Gaborik is coming off a poor season -- his 0.57 points per game his lowest output since his rookie yearin 1998-1999 -- but he's also one year removed from a 41-goal season, and has scored 30 or more goals seven times. Add in a little contract year motivation and he's an easy No. 2 right wing.

The biggest reason that the Blue Jackets were nearly a playoff team last season was the play of G Sergei Bobrovsky, who had a .932 save percentage. In three NHL seasons, his career save percentage is .917 so regression is virtually assured, but if Bobrovsky even matches his career numbers while starting 65 games, he'll be a valuable fantasy goaltender. The warning here, though, is to take him as your No. 2 and not before.

Value Plays: C Brandon Dubinsky scored just two goals in 29 games last season and his offence has been heading the wrong way since a couple of 20-goal seasons, but he still plays a sound two-way game. A little bit of offensive resurgence, combined with his physical game (hits and/or PIMs) makes Dubinsky a fringe fantasy player.

While he's a minus machine -- a league-worst minus-85 since the start of the 2007-2008 season -- D Jack Johnson plays a ton and has 135 points since the start of 2009-2010, ranking 21st among defencemen. Balancing out the plus-minus risk, he's still okay as a No. 3 or No. 4.

LW Artem Anisimov has offensive upside, but he has yet to score 20 goals or 45 points in a season, so he's likely one to watch on the waiver wire.

Sleepers/Breakthrough: Smallish scoring winger Cam Atkinson has 32 points in 82 NHL games, which is a fine start to his career, but he also has 49 goals in 89 AHL games since coming out of Boston College, a pedigree that suggests he should be able to keep scoring.

Since he was drafted fourth overall in 2010, Ryan Johansen has shown flashes, putting up 33 points in 107 NHL games (33 points in 40 AHL games last season), but hasn't been able to maintain enough consistency to be a productive player. The 21-year-old has enough potential to warrant a look in deep leagues.

He has a hard time staying healthy and is minus-28 over the last three seasons, but D James Wisniewski is productive enough when he's in the lineup, scoring 48 of his 92 points over the last three years on the power play.

The Blue Jackets have a collection of forwards who, from time to time, may have some appeal, a group that includes Nick Foligno, R. J. Umberger, Mark Letestu and, once he's healthy, Nathan Horton, but they're not going to have draft day appeal in most formats.

Rookies: There's no guarantee that C Boone Jenner will start the year in Columbus, but he's coming off a fine season, scoring 82 points in 56 games with Oshawa in the OHL, adding nine points in 13 (regular season plus playoff) games in the AHL at the end of the season. If he does stick, he could contribute some offensively with a physical game, though it may not be enough to deserve fantasy consideration.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Sergei Bobrovsky (Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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