New-Look HP! Unfiltered Articles Stats Glossary Contact Us
Hockey Prospectus home

New Look Hockey Prospectus is available with new Premium Content!
Limited time offer: $9.99 for an entire year!

<< Previous Article
Pucks From The Past (12/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Team Prospectus (12/02)
Next Column >>
Team Prospectus (12/11)
Next Article >>
Front Office Focus (12/10)

December 9, 2010
Team Prospectus
Columbus Blue Jackets

by Timo Seppa

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

TEAM STATS

Columbus Blue Jackets, 2009-10
Goals For: 	216	25th 
Goals Against: 	259	26th
GVT: 		-43	28th
Points:		79	26th

VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 	223	25th 
Goals Against: 	239	23rd
GVT: 		-16	27th
Points:		85	27th

Columbus started out on fire, far outstripping everyone’s projections, including VUKOTA’s. Since then, the Blue Jackets have cooled off a bit but are still playing relatively playing well at 15-11-1. And they’ll need to be playing well, as everyone knows that it will take a full 82 game effort to outlast the competition in the always deep Western Conference.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

The roster didn’t see much turnover, with exiled Oilers captain Ethan Moreau the only free agent addition of note. Once again, the rough and tumble Blue Jackets have more heavy hitters than rapid fire shooters in their balanced and deep lineup. Faceoffs are a particular strength, as in Antoine Vermette, Sammy Pahlsson and R.J. Umberger, Columbus had a trio of forwards posting 52.8% or more over 500-plus faceoffs in 2009-10.

Blue Jackets top forwards, by 2009-10 stats

Shots/60: Rick Nash 9.6, Andrew Murray 9.2, Ethan Moreau 7.8*
Hits/60: Mike Blunden 15.4, Jared Boll 15.1, Derek Dorsett 11.0
Blocked shots/60: Derek Dorsett 2.6, Ethan Moreau 2.3*, R.J. Umberger 2.3
Takeaways/giveaway: Jared Boll 5.0, Derek Dorsett 2.5, Samuel Pahlsson 2.0
Net penalties/60: Jared Boll +1.0, Rick Nash +0.7, Andrew Murray +0.3
Faceoffs: Antoine Vermette 54.2%, Samuel Pahlsson 52.9%

Blue Jackets top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats

Shots/60: Kris Russell 5.0, Anton Stralman 4.9, Fedor Tyutin 4.8
Hits/60: Marc Methot 7.7, Mike Commodore 7.1, Jan Hejda 5.2
Blocked shots/60: Jan Hejda 6.2, Mike Commodore 4.8, Kris Russell 4.0
Takeaways/giveaway: Marc Methot 1.1, Kris Russell 0.8, Fedor Tyutin 0.8
Net penalties/60: Kris Russell +0.1, Anton Stralman -0.2, Fedor Tyutin -0.3

*New acquisition
Minimum 40 games played

Blue Jackets goaltenders, 2009-10 stats

No one expected 20-year-old Steve Mason to reach the heights he did in his rookie year: 33-20-7, .916 save percentage and 10 shutouts, en route to the Calder Trophy—. Though no one expected him to sink as low as he did in his sophomore season either: 20-26-9 with a .901 save percentage. So where does Mason stand this season? Not shockingly, somewhere in between: 8-8-1 with a .906 save percentage. This season’s shock, though, is Mathieu Garon’s play, 7-2-0, a .928 save percentage and 3 shutouts—as the backup sports a modest career .905 save percentage. Regression, here we come!

Steve Mason

Save percentage .901
Even strength save percentage: .911
Power play save percentage: .861
Shorthanded save percentage: .905

Mathieu Garon

Save percentage: .903
Even strength save percentage: .908
Power play save percentage: .891
Shorthanded save percentage: .852

SHOOTOUT PROSPECTUS

Out of the Blue Jackets shooters with much of any track record, you have the good (Nash), the not so bad (Huselius) and the ugly (Vermette). So ideally—to go with Nash—coach Arniel would trot out the likes of Brassard, Filatov and Voracek in hopes of seeing if Columbus could improve upon their known options. In goal, while Steve Mason has been a smidge below average in the shootout, backup Mathieu Garon’s career numbers have been outstanding. Net-net, the Jackets are an average-at-best group for the skills competition.

Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts

Rick Nash: 38.3% (18 for 47)
Kristian Huselius: 34.4% (11 for 32)
Antoine Vermette: 19.2% (5 for 26)

Best options, shooters with a limited track record

Fedor Tyutin: 42.9% (3 for 7)
Jakub Voracek: 33.3% (3 for 9)
Nikita Filatov: 33.3% (1 for 3)
Derick Brassard: 33.3% (1 for 3)

Goaltenders

Steve Mason: .656 career (42 for 64), .571 in 2009-10
Mathieu Garon: .756 career (58 for 90), .556 in 2009-10

THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE BLUE JACKETS

Big Question #1: What’s gotten into the Blue Jackets? Are they for real?

The talk:

Rick Nash: “We’ve had all 20 guys going. A full team effort is the reason we’re winning…Good teams have four lines that score all of time. That’s what we had, and that’s another big reason for our success.”

VUKOTA says: The Blue Jackets were expected to be below average at both goal scoring (25th) and goal prevention (23rd) in 2010-11.

Timo says: Thus far, Columbus has been a dead-average even strength team who has struggled on special teams: 10.3% power play (29th in NHL) and 80.0% penalty kill (23rd in NHL).

Answer: The Blue Jackets are a bit fortunate to have a 15-11-1 record, but are a legit playoff contender. Then again, isn’t just about everyone in the West?

---

Big Question #2: Will Nikita Filatov ever become an impact player?

The talk:

Nikita Filatov (on his solid play, as of Nov. 24): “It’s pretty hard to say. There’s two sides to that because I also haven’t scored yet. But a good thing in comparing with other years is that I’m playing and that I’m playing a lot. Also a good thing is even though I’m not scoring—not doing my main job—I was still playing 13 or 14 minutes most of the games on the second line. So it probably means that the coach is happy with the way I’m playing. Also a good thing is that I think that I’ve improved my defensive game. The last games, I’m making some good plays and getting some points. So I’m really glad about that. But it can be way better.”

Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 says: Filatov was our #1 NHL Prospect, outranking the likes of Taylor Hall, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Seguin and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.

Timo says: The kid was playing well and was putting up points in a solid stretch before more off-ice issues got him into Arniel’s doghouse on November 24th (coincidentally, the start of a 2-5-1 stretch for Columbus that has not seen them get a regulation win). Filatov strikes me as a bright, articulate, likeable, free spirit whose creative nature would best prosper from more added responsibility than hard-nosed discipline. Try to pigeon-hole him in a neat little box and you’re bound to ruin him.

Answer: He’s got the tools, but in the wrong situation, it could be a short NHL career.

---

Big Question #3: Will the real Steve Mason please stand up?

The talk:

Head coach Scott Arniel (on the success of both goalies): “You know what? It’s an easy choice to pick either one to throw in the net. Both have been outstanding for us and certainly a big reason why we’re where we are right now. We’re not a team that just sits back and relies on our goaltending…Both of those guys give our team confidence. Our team loves to play in front of those guys. Those two are great friends, they really respect each other and really pull for each other. They give us a chance to win every night.”

VUKOTA says: Steve Mason 46 GP, .907 save percentage, 3.0 GVT. Mathieu Garon 23 GP, .904 save percentage, 0.1 GVT.

Timo says: Maybe the explanation is as simple as Mason playing over his head in his rookie campaign. Or maybe it was the extreme workload of 61 games and 1658 shots—when he wasn’t sidelined with mononucleosis—that burnt him out in his age-20 season. Let’s hope he pulls a Carey Price season in 2011-12 or 2012-13 and the story has a happy ending.

Answer: Right now, you’d have to say that the 2010-11 Steve Mason of the .906 save percentage is the “real” Steve Mason. Not necessarily the foundation you build your franchise on.

Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Timo by clicking here or click here to see Timo's other articles.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Pucks From The Past (12/09)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Team Prospectus (12/02)
Next Column >>
Team Prospectus (12/11)
Next Article >>
Front Office Focus (12/10)

RECENTLY AT HOCKEY PROSPECTUS
Annoucements: Where Are The New Articles?
Zamboni Tracks: Who's That Guy? Special Edmo...
Hall Of Fame: My 2014 HHOF Inductees
On The Horizon: Four Nations And Junior "A" ...
A Closer Look: MacArthur-Turris-Ryan Keeping...

MORE FROM DECEMBER 9, 2010
Pucks From The Past: The Changing Role of th...

MORE BY TIMO SEPPA
2010-12-18 - Prospectus Q & A: John Fischer of In Lou ...
2010-12-12 - Premium Article Shots On Goal: Fantasy Week 10
2010-12-11 - Team Prospectus: Calgary Flames
2010-12-09 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Columbus Blue Jackets
2010-12-05 - Premium Article Shots On Goal: Fantasy Week 9
2010-12-02 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Florida Panthers
2010-12-01 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Tampa Bay Lightning
More...

MORE TEAM PROSPECTUS
2010-12-27 - Team Prospectus: Washington Capitals
2010-12-26 - Team Prospectus: Anaheim Ducks
2010-12-11 - Team Prospectus: Calgary Flames
2010-12-09 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Columbus Blue Jackets
2010-12-02 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Florida Panthers
2010-12-01 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Tampa Bay Lightning
2010-11-12 - Premium Article Team Prospectus: Chicago Blackhawks
More...