The Columbus Blue Jacket Blogger Roundtable continues here at The Dark Blue Jacket today, and I'm fortunate to host my blogging buds in a discussion of Nikita Filatov and Anton Stralman.
Don't forget, yesterday saw the roundtable discussing the ticket sales issue as well as the preseason spike in penalties and their impact on special teams over at The Cannon.
But here's today's takes:
QUESTION #3: Is Nikita Filatov this season’s breakout player, or do you see another Jacket taking a big step forward?
DBJ (that's me): All signs point to Filatov, but don't overlook Jake Voracek. Jake's still finding himself, but he is an absolute beast when on top of his game.
Dan Parker, Waiting for Next Year: I think Filatov will do enough to show he belongs on this team, but my break-out player this year is Jakub Voracek. Once the crushing weight came off of his back under Claude Noel, I think we saw a glimpse down the stretch of the player Jake can be if he's allowed to let his talent take over. I've been advocating him seeing time on the top line with Nash and Vermette, because I think the combination of he and Nash would be hard to stop: two power forwards with skills and a skating, responsible, face-off winning center. I think Jake can score 30 goals this season if he's healthy and Scott Arniel lets him loose.
Mike MacLean, The Cannon: I think the team needs Derick Brassard to be the breakout player. Anything substantial from Filatov is a bonus this season as far as I'm concerned, but Brass needs to take the next step in a big way. He's a scoring line center and for the team to succeed they need to scoring lines producing.
Lee Auer, The JacketsBlog: Absolutely. Filatov has shown that he has come to play this season during the pre-season. I am beyond excited to see what he can bring all season long especially if he realizes he has to play both ends of the ice. He could quickly become a better two-way player than some of the stars of the NHL who only do it on one end of the ice.
Top Shelf, Jackets Required: I think Filatov will be the breakout player for the year. If the preseason is any indication, the little Russian seems ready to open the flood gates on scoring. He appears to be working hard and not saying much to the media. These are things that will go a long way toward mending the fences with his teammates. The other player I'm hoping breaks out offensively is Voracek. We all know he has the size and effort, but if he develops a real scorers touch, he could be a star.
Red Dog, Red Dog Rambling: I think your breakout player of the year is Voracek (Russell get's my honorable mention), but Filatov is going to make some noise. He's beginning the year in the top 6 and I think he'll end it there. In between may be a bit of a roller coaster. I don't expect long stretches of bad play, just not the kind of production we saw in the preseason for a full 82.
Jeff Little, The Hockey Writers: Filatov is perhaps the most naturally gifted player on the ice for the CBJ. As he gets some confidence, it will only improve. He could have a 70 point year. Voracek I expect to continue the natural progression, and I think Brassard will naturally benefit from the openings the whole line creates. Frankly, I think both Stralman and Russell will have big years.
Matt Wagner, The Cannon: Filatov is an insane offensive talent, but don’t sleep on Antoine Vermette. He put up a career year when he had the chance to play with Nash for a full season, and he might just break his own record – don’t forget that he was second on the team in overall scoring last year, and he wasn’t that far behind Nash…
QUESTION #4: The team gave Anton Stralman a one year contract which will put him right back into being an RFA. Do you think the Swede will be able to step up and prove he’s worth a bigger deal, or could he find himself replaced by John Moore or David Savard?
DBJ: I think the answer is that Scott Howson will do everything he can to keep Moore and Savard in Springfield this season. He'll only bring them up if/when the current blue liners - Stralman included - conclusively demonstrate that they can't do the job. Howson has been risk averse to the idea of promoting young players too quickly, and I don't see any reason why he would change that philosophy now.
Mike MacLean: The fact that Stralman is on a one year deal means that this is his make-or-break season with the CBJ. He has the talent offensively, but if he can't be successful five-on-five then Moore or Savard are right behind him. If he has a subpar start to the season, we may see Moore or Savard earlier than we think.
Lee Auer: I think that Stralman could find himself a permanent fixture in Columbus. If he takes another step to improve defensively and continue to produce offensively, Howson will have no choice but to keep him in the fold going forward. With Arniel's system, Russel and Stralman could both see drastically increased roles and a highly desired commodity around Columbus.
Top Shelf: I believe Howson when he says he likes Stralman and wants him on this team... but I only believe that applies to this season. Let's all admit that the only reason we need Stralman is for his PP acumen. It is not for his shutdown capabilities. Assuming younger defenders grow into the players they are projected to be, Stralman will be disposable. That said, the 1.95m Howson is not outrageous... its a good deal for both parties.
Red Dog: Great question. He trailed off so much as last season wore on, I just don't know what to expect from him. I'm hoping like crazy that Arniel's up-tempo, defense-pinching system will let Stralman shine, but I also think than Moore and Savard have longer, more productive careers in front of them as offensively minded d-men than the likable Swede.
Jeff Little: Stralman will be a long time member of the blue line corps, if he plays like he did in pre-season. Howson wanted to see progress on the defensive side, and we are seeing that. He is the quintessential Howson acquisition -- young, talented, undervalued. I see Moore and Savard (and Goloubef) as replacements for Klesla, Methot and Hejda, likely in that order.
Matt Wagner: If he can address his defensive issues, I think Howson will make a good effort to keep Stralman in Columbus, but it could be an issue of how much money he feels he should get, and what the market will bear. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him extended, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him leave town in pursuit of the almighty dollar, either.