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The Blue Jackets’ success is rooted within its young players

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Columbus is comprised of a lot of young talent that has created some havoc on the stat sheets this season. Don’t be surprised if they carry a lot of weight in this playoff matchup against the Pens.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins face the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time in the post-season since 2014, and they have their work cut out of them. We all know the Blue Jackets possess All-Star winger Cam Atkinson, prolific scorer Brandon Dubinsky, and a tough net-minder in Sergei Bobrovsky. So even though the Jackets are limping into the post-season going 1-4 in their last five games, they’ll still be a decent foe to defeat.

Make that a young foe. With the aforementioned stars included, the average age of the entire Blue Jackets team is a measly 25 years. After doing the math, I was astounded, so I’ve created this little feature to bring to light the extremely talented young guys on the Columbus roster that you folks should keep a weathered eye on come puck drop on Wednesday night.

Zach Werenski (Rookie)

Date of Birth: 7/19/1997, age 19

Height/Weight: 6’2”/218 pounds

Position: Defenseman

Drafted: Columbus, 1st round 2015, 8th overall

2016-17 Stat Line: 78 games played, 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists), 14 penalty minutes, and a +/- rating of 17

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 53.4 CF%, +5.1% Corsi Relative, 101 PDO

Stats Accrued vs. Pittsburgh: As a defenseman, the star rookie hasn’t notched any game points, but he does have four blocked shots and two hits in three games against Pittsburgh this year. It’s also important to note that Columbus won two of the three games he was in the lineup for, but was obviously missed in the final matchup. Having him back for this series is a big weight lifted off the team’s shoulders.

Why you should care about him: He’s the holder of the record for highest points (47) and assists (39) by a rookie. Not only is he a great defenseman, the 19-year-old has also made a name for himself moving the puck and creating chances on offense. Him returning to the lineup is a massive positive for the Blue Jackets’ chance of success.

Alexander Wennberg

Date of Birth: 9/22/1994, age 22

Height/Weight: 6’2”/196 pounds

Position: Center

Drafted: Columbus, 1st round 2013, 14th overall

2016-17 Stat Line: 80 games played, 59 points (13 goals, 46 assists), 21 penalty minutes, and a +/- rating of 9

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 51.2 CF%, 0.9% Corsi Relative, 100.6 PDO

Stats Accrued vs. Pittsburgh: Wennberg has one goal and two helpers in the four games he’s played against the Penguins this season.

Why you should care about him: He leads the second line between Brandon Saad and Sam Gagner, and is an assists machine. Wennberg’s puck-moving ability is dangerous, and has led to many goals for Columbus this season. He’s also on the team’s first power play unit. Though goal-scoring isn’t his most-prominent skill, he still has 11 on the year. I’m sure if he’s not looking to set up his wingers, he’ll be firing away at the cage.

Boone Jenner

Date of Birth: 6/15/1993, age 23

Height/Weight: 6’2”/216 pounds

Position: Center

Drafted: Columbus, 2nd round 2011, 7th pick, 37th overall

2016-17 Stat Line: 82 games played, 34 points (18 goals, 16 assists), 52 penalty minutes (!!!), and a +/- rating of 14

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 49.4% CF, -1.3% Corsi Relative, 102 PDO

Stats Accrued vs. Pittsburgh: Jenner has one goal, two assists, and nine penalty minutes in the four games he’s faced against the Penguins this season.

Why you should care about him: Not only is he the leader of the Blue Jackets’ third line, this guy is a genuine example of an all-out grinder and instigator. It seems like every time the Penguins play Columbus, he’s somehow stirring the pot (many times for no reason). With tensions even higher in the playoffs, Jenner will undoubtedly try to cause trouble again.

But I think the Pens will manage him just fine.

Seth Jones

Date of Birth: 10/3/1994, age 22

Height/Weight: 6’4”/220 pounds

Position: Defenseman

Drafted: Nashville, 1st round 2013, 4th pick, 4th overall

2016-17 Stat Line: 75 games played, 42 points (12 goals, 30 assists), 24 penalty minutes, and a +/- rating of 6

2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 52.5% CF, 3.2% Corsi Relative, 99.3 PDO

Stats Accrued vs. Pittsburgh: Jones has three assists in the four games he played in against Pittsburgh this year.

Why you should care about him: Like Werenski, Jones is a great puck-moving defenseman that has set up a plethora of goals for Columbus. Because of Werenski’s injury, Jones settled into the top defensive line and power play unit — a placement that has boded well for the young player. With Werenski back, he may get bumped to the second line and power play unit, but I can’t imagine his play will be negatively affected.

Now, with all that being said, youth doesn’t yield experience. These guys have been fantastic in the regular season, yet they might falter underneath the pressure of the grilling post-season.

Who knows, maybe they’ll thrive.