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A Landlubber’s Guide to the Columbus Blue Jackets

A quick look at what you need to know about tonight’s Kraken opponent

NHL: JUN 28 Columbus Blue Jackets Development Camp Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Hey you. You’re swept up in all this Seattle Kraken hype. You want to know more about hockey but don’t know where to start. Well, we want to help make these games easy and fun for you to watch.

Throughout the season, we’ll release Landlubber’s Guides designed with the new fan in mind. This includes basic need-to-know info for you to absorb before you watch Kraken games and highlights.

Today let’s talk about the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Are they any good?

Two years ago they were pretty good, when they shocked the NHL world by sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs in a year in which the Lightning set the record for most wins in a season with 62.

But the seasons since have not been as kind to the Blue Jackets. Last year they finished last in their division, and their 18 wins were the third-fewest in the entire league. Things could go either way for them this year, but most expect they’ll be on the outside looking in in an extremely competitive Metropolitan Division.

Who should I look out for?

  • Patrick Laine (#29, Center) - Laine was acquired at the trade deadline last year from the Winnipeg Jets. He scored at least 30 goals in his first three years in the NHL, but that production has seen a stiff decline since then. He still has an absolute cannon though and could break back out any year.
  • Jakub Vorcek (#93, Right Wing) - Voracek was another recent trade acquisition for Columbus. He’s not quite a point-per-game player, but he’s pretty darn close.
  • Zach Werenski (#8, Defense) - Werenski signed a massive 6-year deal with an average annual value (AAV) of $9.5 million this offseason. It’s his first season with sole possession of the defensive spotlight, as fellow star defenseman Seth Jones was just sent to Chicago in July.

Any Seattle ties?

  • Seattle Kraken legend Jake Bean is also on the Blue Jackets blue line.
  • I couldn’t actually find any Seattle ties, but Bean was long-considered to be the frontrunner as the Kraken’s expansion selection out of Carolina. They went with Morgan Geekie instead, a decision I think we’re all on board with right now.

Odds and Ends

  • This is the first year since 2015 without John Tortorella behind the bench as head coach. Tortorella is a, ah, divisive old-school coach who is now an in-studio analyst with ESPN.
  • Goaltender Elvis Merzlikins is dedicating this season to fellow goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks, who passed away in an accident over the summer.
  • Seattle’s selection from the Blue Jackets in the expansion draft was Gavin Bayreuther, whom they let walk in free agency immediately afterwards. I suppose that means this isn’t exactly a deep, talented lineup.

Today’s game starts at 4PM PST, broadcast on ROOT Sports NW for local subscribers and ESPN+ for out of market fans.