The Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the most discouraging teams in illusion this season, have slightly renewed upside after the hiring of Brad Larsen as coach August 10. Larsen, who spent the past seven months as an helper with the Blue Overcoats, brings familiarity to the players and also Mark Tortorella’s system, which helped the Blue Coats meet the criteria for the playoffs in four of his six periods.
Columbus’ top fantasy player, defenseman Seth Jones, can become an unrestricted free agent after next time of year and reportedly does not program to sign a contract extension. Much of the Blue Spencer’ long-term fantasy appeal hinges on whether Jones re-signs, but he and defenseman Zach Werenski are consistent options at the position in the short term despite some team concerns.
Despite Columbus missing the playoffs this season, essential wing Oliver Bjorkstrand took another step forward, scoring an NHL career-high 44 points (18 goals, 26 assists) in 56 games. Larsen will likely keep Bjorkstrand in a prominent function and could potentially play him with better linemates, making him worthy of prioritizing in middle rounds as the Blue Jackets’ best ranked imagination forward.
Larsen’s biggest task will be to help wing Patrik Laine, who scored 21 factors (10 goals, 11 helps) in 45 video games with the Blue Overcoats, become more productive next period. The coaching change certainly gives Laine bounce-back charm, but it may become tough for him to regain his prior 44-goal form from 2017-18 given the Blue Coats’ limited offensive weapons. Larsen can help the Blue Spencer power play (15.4 percent; 27th in the NHL) improve considering Laine have scored 20 power-play goals and 31 power-play points with the Winnipeg Jets in 2017-18. Potential offseason moves could further boost Laine, but, for today, he should end up being targeted around or outside the wonderland top 150 overall.
Drafting goalies Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo was a popular fantasy strategy this season after the Blue Jackets set up themselves as a safe defensive group under Tortorella, but neither option returned much value. Still, each goalie is definitely worth getting drafted as a bench option in standard 12-team leagues, and the Blue Overcoats have intriguing young skaters in Jack Roslovic, Liam Foudy and Emil Bemstrom, who could benefit from the training switch in fable.