- BetOnline lists Columbus at +2500 to win the Eastern Conference title in 2020
- Blue Jackets have made three straight playoff appearances, but lost Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky
- Question marks surround Joonas Korpisalo as starter
The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of only seven teams in the National Hockey League to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but that streak could be at stake after what’s considered to be a disastrous off-season.
The Jackets’ roster saw a major overhaul in terms of big-name unrestricted free agents moving on to other clubs this summer.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin were the biggest losses for the Blue Jackets, whose stock has plummeted since the pair inked deals with the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers, respectively. Matt Duchene also bolted Columbus to sign a contract with the Nashville Predators.
Here’s how BetOnline has the odds to win the East in the 2019-20 season.
2020 Eastern Conference Championship Odds
|Team||Odds at BetOnline*|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||+400|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||+700|
|New Jersey Devils||+1200|
|New York Islanders||+1200|
|New York Rangers||+1200|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||+2500|
|Detroit Red Wings||+5000|
*Odds taken 08/09/2019.
This has created a huge swing in the 2020 Eastern Conference championship odds, most notably on Columbus’ chances. Once considered a legitimate Stanley Cup contender last season, the Jackets, who swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, now carry a +3600 odds average among all sportsbooks to win the Eastern Conference in 2020.
BetOnline released its updated odds for the Eastern Conference championship and lists the Blue Jackets as +2500 underdogs. Only the Detroit Red Wings and Ottawa Senators have longer odds. Looking at the club’s Metropolitan Division odds, Columbus went from +1200 to +1900 across all sportsbooks.
Breaking down all the betting lines, is there any value in putting money on Columbus to come out of East next season?
One area the Blue Jackets stand out above several teams in the East is on defense. Seth Jones and Zach Werenski anchor a solid blue-line that allowed the sixth fewest shots against per game last season (29.5). Columbus also finished 11th overall in goals against per game with an average of 2.82.
“The core we have in the room, I think there’s something special,” Seth Jones told NHL.com.
– Who will serve as the new No. 1 goalie?
– How will @CamAtkinson13 perform this year?
– How can the team retain top players moving forward?@NHLdotcom answers three key questions facing the @BlueJacketsNHL! #31in31 https://t.co/v3K55b6P6l
— NHL (@NHL) August 9, 2019
The Blue Jackets did little in the way of replacing Panarin or Bobrovsky, making just one free agent signing since the market opened on July 1 — a four year deal to bring in veteran forward Gustav Nyquist.
Instead, the team will opt to go with what they already have in the system.
Panarin Leaves Void
Making up the points that Panarin leaves behind may be a cause for concern. Cam Atkinson had a beyond stellar season, scoring 41 goals in 80 games played. Only eight of those goals came on the man advantage, which makes Atkinson a lethal scoring option at even strength.
However, expect the biggest rise to come from Pierre-Luc Dubois, who will have an increased role at both ends of the ice. Coming off a 61-point season in just his second year in the NHL, Dubois will likely evolve into an 80-85 point player if he can stay healthy.
Korpisalo Gets His Shot
The question is now whether Bobrovsky’s replacement — Joonas Korpisalo — can be a legitimate starting goaltender.
Korpisalo is entering his fourth year in the NHL and will have to do better than the 2.95 goals against average he produced in 21 starts last season. Although Korpisalo was able to post a respectable 10-7-3 record as a backup last season, the pressure will be much higher for the young Finn.
The Athletic: With Sergei Bobrovsky now in Florida, #CBJ G Joonas Korpisalo finally has a chance to be a No. 1. More than a year ago, GM Jarmo Kekalainen started preparing him for this: “Be ready.” https://t.co/Tey2oGW9RI pic.twitter.com/bw1dL9xTVh
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) August 5, 2019
There are too many questions in play but it’s highly unlikely the Blue Jackets will win the Eastern Conference title.
There is much more value in betting on the Tampa Bay Lightning at +400 or Toronto Maple Leafs at +700. A team to really watch are the New Jersey Devils at +1200.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.