Greetings all, so far we have covered more established options for your squads through the summer, so in looking to change it up a little bit, lets discuss someone to covet in the late rounds of deeper leagues. Buried somewhat within the roster depths of the Blue Jackets, but well known amongst its legions anticipating his full integration into the everyday roster, Oliver Bjorkstrand is ready to shine in his own right. The following clip gives you a glimpse of his goal scoring ability.
A case can be made that Bjorkstrand just needs time and the extended opportunity in the NHL to flourish. Arguably the Blue Jackets best prospect, management is looking for him to assert himself in 2017-18 and cement a regular role at the highest level. The addition of Artemi Panarin brings slick playmaking with goal-scoring ability that one assumes will be slotted into Alex Wennberg’s line. It is doubtful Bjorkstrand usurps Cam Atkinson, so if Bjorkstrand can line up with the likes of Brandon Dubinsky-Nick Foligno on line two and get consistent time on the power play, we may be looking at a true steal beyond Round 20 in drafts.
This is not someone to covet for multi-category purposes. Bjorkstrand fits the mold of a pure sniper and should only be looked at as a late option for scoring depth. It is in the opinion of many that he is ready to contribute regularly at the NHL level. In 26 games last year, he posted 2.1 points per 60 minutes at even strength. That’s in the company of established names in the game today. In no way is this to say Bjorkstrand is at any of these player's level yet, but it goes to show the upside is there if he can find consistency and cement his place in the lineup.
Bjorkstrand’s PDO in 2016-17 tells us that when he is on the ice the Jackets are generally controlling play and his Corsi For percentage only bolsters this sentiment. His zone-start percentages last season also informs us that John Tortorella will deploy skilled players in the offensive zone more often than not. Bjorkstrand being a textbook sniper reliant upon speed and release it would be wise to do so for any coach. he scored 144 goals in 193 games in the WHL over the course of three years, and then followed it up with 31 goals in 88 games in the AHL. The trend of scoring goals at every level seems to be continuing, albeit at a reduced frequency. Nonetheless if drafted as a depth option, he could provide value well above his ADP.
In the fourth quarter of 2016-17, Bjorkstrand’s most frequent linemates were Sam Gagner and Scott Hartnell. Both of these players are no longer Blue Jackets, which leaves one to hypothesis as to what Tortorella’s lines will look like this coming season. In the last game of the year, Bjorkstrand played with Wennberg and Brandon Saad. Saad is yet another ex-Blue Jacket now, so although it is a gamble with Atkinson present, the prospects for Bjorkstrand finding his way onto the Wennberg-Panarin line have never been better. Now lacking three from the top nine last season, it’s almost as if Bjorkstrand is assured an elevated role. This is probably Bjorkstrand’s opportunity to squander.
All in all in, sometimes taking a little risk late in drafts can pay phenomenal dividends that help lead to championships. Bjorkstrand is one of those guys to take the plunge on late this year and hope for an immediate return on investment. The Blue Jackets forward group and roster as a whole is very potent, so the needle is trending in the positive far more than the negative for Bjorkstrand. Hop on management’s expectation train and enjoy the potential ride in 2017-18.
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