By William Reedy, For The Miami Student
As March begins, it becomes time for Columbus Blue Jacket fans to watch and cringe as their beloved Jackets screw themselves out of a good draft pick by outplaying all the other tanking teams in the league.
Year after year, the Jackets miss out on top prospects such as last year's Conor McDavid and Jack Eichel, who were drafted No. 1 and No. 2 to the Edmonton Oilers and the Buffalo Sabres and turned out to be two fantastic picks - possibly even franchise players.
Missing out on these picks is attributed to the constant end of season surges the Jackets experience.
Last year, Columbus saw its best winning streak in December when they went 10-1-1 over 12 games, gathering 21 points. Sadly for the Jackets, their terrible play continued as usual for all of February, prohibiting a playoff berth.
To make matters worse, the Jackets went unbeaten for 13 straight games at the end of the season to fall eight spots in the draft order. This forced the team to choose Zachary Werenski, an 18-year-old defenseman still playing in his second year for the University of Michigan. He shows dim signs of moving up to the NHL any time soon.
While the draft game for the Jackets may have been noticeably weak, some of their transactions from last year and this year have made some positive impacts.
The acquisition of Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks has proven to be a good one, as Saad is second in points (41) for the Jackets and has spent a majority of his time on the top line.
This year, the trade of Ryan Johansen for young defenseman Seth Jones of the Nashville Predators also proved to be positive. The 21-year-old Jones is a big skilled defenseman who has been solid defensively to the Blue Jackets' deteriorated blue line. In 25 games, Jones has thirteen points (1 goal, 12 assists), which is great news for an up-and-coming defenseman.
The team is still predominately young with these two additions, so having high draft choices to play with the younger players could benefit the Blue Jackets chemistry in the long run.
This year, the Jackets are showing flashes of great play, as they once again make their end of the season run all too late. After beating Edmonton this past Friday, the Blue Jackets have won three of their last four games. With 62 points, they sit in the sixth spot for the 2016 draft.
But, their next four games are against strong Eastern Conference foes: Detroit twice, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. This could be an easy way to miss out on eight points and move further up the draft order.
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Columbus still has 16 games on its calendar, including seven road games, so there is plenty of time to get to the top of the draft chart. If you're a Jackets fan, expect losses when Sergei Bobrovski is on the bench. Backup goalie Curtis McElhinney has a 2-7-3 record in net and let up six goals against a mediocre Philadelphia Flyers team Saturday. This might be the key to a tanked season and a great 2016 pick.