In a robust transfer to spice up the Kraken’s scoring punch and sign a win-more-games intent for the approaching season, GM Ron Francis acquired Columbus main objective scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand Friday in a commerce that despatched two 2023 draft picks to the Blue Jackets. The draft picks for subsequent July are a third-round choose acquired from Calgary within the Calle Jarnkrok commerce and a fourth-rounder acquired from Winnipeg within the Mason Appleton commerce.
When Columbus signed NHL prime scorer Johnny Gaudreau for almost $10 million per season on the primary day of the free company interval July 13, the Japanese Convention franchise was anticipated to ship out at the very least one star participant to remain underneath the league’s wage cap. The Kraken and its fan base are the blissful recipients of the anticipated transaction with Bjorkstrand heading west. The 27-year-old proper wing is signed by means of the 2025-2026 season at a team-friendly $5.4 million common annual worth or AAV.
Bjorkstrand (pronounced “bih-YOHRK-strand”) topped Columbus in scoring final season with profession highs of 28 objectives and 57 factors in 80 video games. It is his third 21-plus objective season over 5 full NHL seasons. He scored a team-high 9 power-play objectives final season. The 6-foot, 177-pound ahead averaged a career-high 17:57 time on ice per recreation plus three-plus minutes on the facility play per recreation for the primary time.
“We’re excited to welcome Oliver to our group,” stated Kraken GM Ron Francis. “He is coming off a profession 12 months offensively taking part in prime minutes in Columbus. His creativity and hockey sense will probably be good additions to our ahead group.”
When Francis signed Andrey Burakovsky, he talked concerning the “proper age group of 27” within the context of a participant coming into the prime years of his NHL profession. At 27, Bjorkstrand suits the identical profile of buying a participant on the best way to elite manufacturing.
Entrance workplace executives from common managers to superior analytics specialists are squarely within the enterprise of projecting the longer term potential and affect of gamers, whether or not prospects or confirmed NHL gamers. In Bjorkstrand’s case, the traits all level upwards.
One instance: He notched 2.38 factors per 60 minutes performed final season, putting him third among the many prime 4 per-60-minute scorers on the Kraken roster behind newly acquired left wing Andre Burakovsky (2.81), 2021-22 main scorer Jared McCann (2.51) and two-time Stanley Cup winner and fan-favorite award winner Yanni Gourde (2.11).
He is by no means dipped beneath 2.0 factors per 60 minutes in his 382 NHL video games (rating him within the prime 25 % of all NHLers over the last 5 seasons, per MoneyPuck) and his manufacturing has elevated season over season with extra time on ice. He set profession marks of 17:57 time on ice per recreation final season, plus loved his first season with three-plus minutes on the facility play per recreation. He scored a Columbus-high 9 man-advantage objectives final season and added 10 assists.
The Gaudreau signing is little question thrilling for Columbus followers, gamers and coaches alike. But it surely comes with a value of shedding a enormously admired participant and alternate captain in Bjorkstrand.
“He is sturdy on the puck,” stated Pascal Vincent, Columbus assistant coach, to group reporter Jeff Svoboda throughout final season. “His reads are wonderful. His hockey sense is basically good. He understands shortly.”
Vincent spent a number of seasons teaching with the Winnipeg Jets group competing in opposition to Bjorkstrand: “I did not admire [how good Bjorkstrand plays] as a lot as I ought to have. I feel that may be true for individuals across the league. We knew he was good, that he was a great participant, however I did not understand how good he was.”
Per insider Svoboda, CBJ goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stated the hardest shooters on his squad final season have been famend scorer Patrik Laine and Bjorkstrand, the latter “as a result of his launch is so totally different.”
Laine came visiting to Columbus from Winnipeg himself, traded with Jack Roslovic to Columbus in trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois in January 2021.
“Clearly in a constructive approach [Bjorkstrand] stunned me how good of a participant he’s,” Laine stated. “It isn’t all about simply his objectives and assists. I feel he is general a very good participant… he is on a great path.”
Bjorkstrand signed a five-year contract in the identical month Laine and Roslovic arrived. Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen was blissful for his younger ahead and stated Bjorkstrand’s management contribution made him greater than deserving of his alternate captaincy.
“I’ve beloved simply how he has progressed,” stated Larsen, who performed 294 NHL video games earlier than embarking on his teaching profession. “One of many hardest issues I imagine for a man to remain within the NHL is consistency, to be aggressive and be constant in your construction, your work habits, your gymnasium habits, your eating regimen, how you’re going to get greater, get stronger .
“Should you watch [Bjorkstrand] now, I do know what I’ll get each night time, and never simply due to his goal-scoring and his factors. It is his consistency and his competitiveness … I watch how arduous he competes. We at all times tried to say, ‘Hey, watch [New York Rangers star Artemi] Panarin,’ when he was right here. He is an undersized man however he is ultracompetitive.”
That is Larsen speaking even earlier than Bjorkstrand’s 2021-22 breakout season. There are quite a lot of skilled observers who contemplate Bjorkstrand the very best Columbus ahead during the last three seasons, filling a void left when Panarin signed in New York as a free agent.
Enjoyable reality: Bjorkstrand began final season with 13 factors (5 objectives, eight assists) within the Blue Jackets’ first 10 video games. Solely Panarin and all-time CBJ nice Rick Nash have performed higher in franchise historical past.
Superior analytics specialists constantly give excessive marks to the Denmark native’s work within the defensive zone, together with explanations of “unhealthy puck luck” throughout a 2021-22 season that proved plus/minus (he was minus-35) will not be at all times the barometer of a participant’s defensive worth. One stat that’s telling: Columbus goaltending save share throughout his time on ice final was beneath .900, a mark that doesn’t result in profitable information nor qualifying for the postseason.
Followers of the Western Hockey League Portland Winter Hawks know all concerning the scoring potential of the Kraken’s latest participant. After starring in Denmark’s prime league as a 16-year-old (notching 26 factors in 36 video games for a membership coached by his father and former NCAA Maine and professional participant Todd), Bjorkstrand joined the Winter Hawks for the 2012-13 season. His 31 objectives and 63 factors in 65 video games led to Columbus selecting him within the third spherical (89th general) of the 2013 NHL Draft.
From there, Bjorkstrand’s WHL scoring rocketed to 109 factors (50 G, 59A) in 69 video games in 2013-14 and 118 factors (63G, 55A) in 59 video games throughout the 2014-15 season. He was named WHL Participant of the Yr in 2015.
The next spring, Bjorkstrand was named most useful participant within the American Hockey League postseason, main the Columbus affiliate Lake Erie Monsters to the Calder Cup championship with 10 objectives and 6 assists in 17 video games.