The Columbus Blue Jackets have given their future a bit more clarity by giving head coach John Tortorella a well-deserved two-year extension.
Entering the 2018-19 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets face a lot of uncertainty. They’re a franchise who has never won a postseason series. At some point, the Jackets have to start making some significant changes. Moreover, their two best players, two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forward Artemi Panarin, are both free agents after the season.
Though the Jackets’ Stanley Cup window is closing, they were wise to pry it open by signing head coach John Tortorella to a two-year extension. Though Torts has yet to take them out of the first round, each time he’s taken them there, they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions.
It’s probably not Tortorella’s fault the Jackets haven’t made it out of the first round. After all, it’s pretty outrageous the reward they got for finishing with the third-best record in the Eastern Conference in 2016-17 was getting to face the team with the second-best record.
And it’s worth noting had Panarin’s shot towards the end of Game 3 against the Washington Capitals in 2017-18 not hit the post, the Jackets would have been up 3-0 in the series and things would be a lot different.
Even without Panarin and Bobrovsky, the team has most of their best players locked up. Seth Jones has a very team-friendly deal considering he’s a Norris Trophy candidate and finished fourth in the voting last season. Zach Werenski’s deal is coming up, but the Jackets should have more than enough money to keep him around.
2016 first-round pick Pierre-Luc Dubois quietly had a very solid season, posting 20 goals and 48 points while emerging as a promising top line center. Oliver Bjorkstrand continues to quietly put up very solid numbers and is a breakout candidate.
It’s interesting the Blue Jackets gave both Tortorella and their front office head honchos extensions. Last year, the Capitals elected not to do so with former head coach Barry Trotz. Maybe they saw what he went through and wanted to ensure Tortorella would stick around. Letting him enter the 2018-19 season as a lame duck coach would have been risky. It sure was for the Capitals. Tortorella’s future is one less thing the Jackets have to worry about.
And, considering how many things they have to worry about, that’s a good thing.