Along with the recent Blue Jackets roster changes has come one consistent concern: “Who is going to score the goals?” It’s a question that’s been asked by several local and national hockey blogs and one that I’m actually not overly concerned with. Losing Rick Nash’s 30 goals might hurt a bit for a team that finished near the bottom of the league in goals scored. But I think there is potential for the current roster to absorb that loss and even surpass it.
Lets take a look at the forwards who dressed for the CBJ in 2011-12 who are no longer with the team and their goal totals:
- Rick Nash – 30
- Jeff Carter – 15
- Antoine Vermette – 8
- Sammy Pahlsson – 2
- Maksim Mayorov – 1
That’s 56 goals scored by forwards who will not be dressing in Union Blue next season. Now lets take a look at the forwards added in the off season and what they bring to the table:
- Nick Foligno – 15 goals (trending upwards, 20+ likely attainable)
- Brandon Dubinsky – 10 goals (Hit 24 in 2010-11, with increased role in offense has potential to hit that again)
- Artem Anisimov – 16 goals (increased offensive role could make 20 goals a possibility)
Based off of last season’s numbers that’s 41 goals. However, most of these players figure to play a more meaningful role in the offense in 2012-13. If just the three guys above hit their potential, (20, 25 and 20) that’s 65 goals combined. That’s 9 goals more than the now-former CBJ players scored last season. 9 more goals moves 2011-12 Columbus from 28th in goals scored to tied for 21st.
Now figure in that players like Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson, with a season under their belts, are likely going to see significant improvement in their numbers from last season. Johansen had 9 goals in 67 games last season (11 goal pace) and Atkinson had 7 goals in 27 games (21 goal pace). I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that Johansen could hit 15-20 goals next season. If Atkinson keeps up with his pace at the end of the season I can see him scoring 20-25+ goals. If he truly gets into a grove, I don’t think 30 goals is out of the question. If Johansen gets 15 and Atkinson gets 20, that’s a combined improvement of 19 goals over their totals last season. Add that to the potential Foligno, Dubinsky and Anisimov potential increase of 9 goals and we’re up to +28. A 28 goal improvement on last season would move the CBJ all the way from 28th in the league to 11th in goal scoring.
With all of that said, I haven’t even gotten into the whole reason I started this post: The C.U.B. line. In case you haven’t been reading my twitter (For Shame!) C.U.B. stands for “Cam. Umby. Brass.” Why am I so excited for the potential of this line? Well, let me give you a brief history lesson:
In the 3rd period of the March 23rd, 2012 game against Carolina, Todd Richards made the move of putting Cam Atkinson on the “top line” with Brassard and Umberger and moving Rick Nash down to a line with Mark Letestu and Vinny Prospal. There’s an argument to be made that whatever line Nash moved to instantly became the “top line” but I’ll let someone else argue that point. In the 3rd period of that game, Brassard hooked up with Umberger for a goal (his hat trick goal) giving the C.U.B. line a combined 1-1-2 for that period. 8 games remained on the schedule following the March 23rd game. Here are the stats for the C.U.B. line in the final 8.33 games:
That’s a combined 14-13-27 over 8.33 games for this line. Extrapolate that out over an 82 game season and that’s a pace of 137-127-264. By comparison, the Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line combined for 84-130-214 in Philadelphia last season. Some of you just spit out your drinks and said “did he really just compare Cam, Umby and Brass to Hartnell, Giroux and Jagr?!?!?” and I say: calm down, I’m not delusional. Obviously this is a very small sample size and as we all know, scoring in hockey comes in streaks. They could possibly go 10 games without a single point. Also, as was pointed out to me on twitter, with Nash on a line with Letestu and Prospal, that line most likely pulled the toughest defensive competition allowing the C.U.B. line to play against weaker defense. If this line continues to put up numbers like they did in the final 8 games of the season, they won’t be playing against weaker defensive opposition for very long.
I tried to ask around and see what sort of productivity decrease a line going against the second toughest defensive opposition would see if they suddenly went up against the toughest line. No one knew. I got a couple links to pages where I could try to figure it out on my own but my brain started to melt so I quit while I was ahead. So, for arguments sake, lets assume this line goes up against the toughest opposition and faces streaks without scoring, is a 30% reduction in productivity fair? I think it seems fair. If not, I’m sure you’ll let me know. 137-127-264 cut by 30% is 95-88-183. Taking the C.U.B. line’s combined stats from last season and extrapolated over 82 games they would have had a 56-74-130 stat line. How does an extra 39 goals, 14 assists and 53 points sound to you? Sounds pretty good to me.
So… no, I’m not terribly worried about where the offense is going to come from next season.