Bloggers Breakouts 2011 - Columbus Blue Jackets

For the third year in a row we're asking some of our favourite bloggers for their opinions on the breakout potential of their team.

If you're interested in our breakout picks and fantasy take on the Jackets check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.

Today we're lucky enough to have Matt Wagner from The Cannon ready to talk about his very different looking Blue Jackets.  If you enjoy this post give him a look... he does good work.  I know I'm very keen to hear his take on the goaltending situation in CBJ-land.

If you have any additional questions for Matt throw them in the comments.


Q1) Blue Jackets' Breakout of the Year?
As strange as it sounds, I think Fedor Tyutin could be a real breakout player for the Jackets.

Last year, Tyutin lead the blueline in scoring with 7 goals and 20 assists in 80 games and lead all defensemen in power play time with almost three minutes a game. This coming season, Tyutin will likely continue to see a lot of PP time paired with James Wisniewski, and I believe that addition plus Todd Richards revamping the team's power play will open Tyutin up for a career year.

Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on the Jackets?
While a lot of people are looking at the potential of Ryan Johansen or the sophomore opportunities for Matt Calvert, I'm actually looking at Vinny Prospal. Despite only playing in 29 games last season, he appears to be fully recovered from his knee issues, and he was able to put up some impressive numbers (9 G, 14A) in that short time.

In Columbus, we could see him lining up as a playmaker with Rick Nash and Jeff Carter, a wily veteran working with Derick Brassard and Matt Calvert, or part of an offensively dangerous and defensively responsible unit with R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette. Barring a major setback, I think Prospal is primed for a 40-50 point season, and a lot of people aren't likely to have him on their radar.

Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
This is going to sound like a homer pick, but I truly believe that Rick Nash is going to explode this year. He had a strong season in Scott Arniel's more offensively focused system, and with Carter he will finally have that elusive #1 center who can create offense AND force teams to spread out their defensive efforts on the ice. I would not be shocked at all if Nash was in the race to claim another Rocket Richard trophy when all is said and done.

If you want a player outside of Columbus, I'm very interested in seeing what Evgeni Malkin does. Previously, he's risen to excel when the Penguins have been put on his shoulders, and if Sidney Crosby doesn't start the season, all eyes are going to be on #71.

Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on the Blue Jackets?
Technically, Kristian Huselius has already broken down in impressive fashion, but I suppose that's cheating...

Derick Brassard is likely to take a step back after playing on the top line with Rick Nash and Jakub Voracek for most of last year. I wouldn't be surprised if he still has a 40 point season, especially if he gets lined up with R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette, but I don't think he'll be able to break 45-50 points.

Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on the Blue Jackets?
If you're part of a keeper league and Ryan Johansen is available, grab him. As a player, he keeps finding ways to rise to the challenge at every level of hockey, and he's been working out in Columbus with the goal of making the squad since finishing the season in Portland. He may start as bottom six player this season, but I suspect he'll have the opportunity to make a serious impact over the next two seasons.

Otherwise, I would keep an eye on Grant Clitsome. After making a big impact last year before going down to injury, he's likely to see a lot of second unit power play time and his shot is genuinely dangerous. See if you can grab him in a lower round - if he can step up his game for a full NHL season, I would not be shocked to see him deliver 10-12 goals and 25-30 assists.

Q6) How do you see Columbus' Goalie Situation playing out this year?
Well, that's the question, isn't it?

Columbus' goalie situation isn't just a concern for fantasy hockey - it could determine if the team finally returns to the playoffs.

The addition of Ian Clark as a full time goalie coach may not show up on a roster, but I think it's going to have a very positive impact for the Blue Jackets - some of Steve Mason's best stretches last season came during periods where former goalie coach Dave Rook was actually in town or traveling with the team and able to work with Mason on a regular basis.

Mason is the starter at this point, and I think that with the right coaching, he will be able to succeed in the position, but I believe that newly signed Mark Dekanich will also provide a much healthier competition - unlike Mathieu Garon, who never gave the impression that he might take over the starting job if Mason should struggle, "Dex" is young, aggressive, and hungry to make his mark in the NHL after being stuck in Nashville behind Rinne and Lindback. I think the threat of losing his job is exactly what Steve Mason needs to make him up his game and hopefully get back to something closer to his 2009 Calder winning form.

That said, if you're looking for a cheap backup who could provide more starts in a pinch, Deckanich might be worth a look, because if Mason should fail to perform he's likely to take the job and run with it.

Q7) Who ends up seeing the most shifts with Jeff Carter and Rick Nash?
At this point, I suspect we'll see Vinny Prospal on the Carter/Nash line, giving them a playmaker who can feed either. Don't be surprised if a very common sight is Prospal making a good pass to Jeff Carter at the half boards or top of the circles, Carter shooting to create a rebound, and Nash cashing it in around the net.

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