It always felt like he could give more. Like he was a bomb waiting to go off. It finally happened this season. Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand took his game to another level. Not just offensively but defensively as well. Bjrokstrand has long been thought of as an underrated player. His 2020-21 breakout seasons showed that he has taken a big step and will be underrated no more.
Scoring was a huge issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. Yet, Oliver Bjorkstrand was by far the teams most consistent player. With 18 goals, 26 assists and 44 points Bjorkstrand became the player many believed he always would be. Bjorkstrand joins former Blue Jacket, Rick Nash to lead the team in goals in consecutive seasons.
Something that should not go untalked about is that Bjorkstrand became a more vocal leader in the dressing room. He also took on more of a leadership role as a whole. Including being part of a small group of players who spoke with general manager Jarmo Kekalainen after the season about the direction of the organization.
Being a natural goal scorer Oliver Bjorkstrand doubled down on improving his defensive game. Which did improve this season. “The Maestro,” as he has been dubbed by teammates has earned the right to be on the Blue Jackets top line. Perhaps that will come next season.
If that is the cans a top line that could potentially pair Bjorkstrand with Patrik Laine could give the Blue Jackets a nice offensive punch that was missing this season.
In a disappointing season, Oliver Bjorkstrand stepped up and showed what is was projected to be. A game changing forward with a wicked shot and now better defense in the mix as well.
What may be best of all is that Oliver Bjorkstrand signed a contract extension right before the season started. A 5 year deal, meaning Bjorkstrand will be in Columbus through his prime years.
The sky is the limit for the ultra talented Bjorkstrand.
Embed from Getty Images That shot! That unbelievable, beautiful shot! It is a weapon Columbus Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has always possessed. It forces defensive players to overcommit while goalies hope it does not find the back of the net. Bjorkstrand is a finesse hockey player. He needed to find a physical edge to his game and improve in the defensive end. Oliver Bjorkstrand has done that.
Columbus Blue Jackets head coach, John Tortorella has seen the Danish forward take a huge step forward in his game. Bjorkstand who in previous seasons would be hesitant to jump into the mix on the boards now leads the charge. He is playing the puck harder.
In 2017-18 Oliver Bjorkstrand’s first NHL season, he put up 11 goals, 29 assists in 82 games played. The 2018-19 season the young forward had 23 goals and 13 assists. The reason, Bjorkstand was asked to pass less and shoot more. After all he is a pure goal scorer.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, projected as a 30 goal 60+ point player when he was selected by Columbus in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft. He carried the Cleveland Monsters (Blue Jackets minor league affiliate) to the Calder Cup with 15 points in 16 games played during the 2015-16 AHL season.
The always smiling Bjorkstrand has been called “The cold-blooded Danish assassin” by his Columbus Blue Jackets teammates. Oliver was challenged to step up by the Blue Jackets coaching staff. Bjorkstrand got to work. His intense work ethic and drive to be even better has lead to Bjorkstrand beginning to live up to his draft day projections.
This is good news for the Columbus Blue Jackets, as I said before, Bjorkstrand has the ability to put the team on his back and carry them. He is that good and that talented.
In a league full of good young talent, fans of other teams are taking notice of Bjorkstrand. His game has come so far in a short amount of time. The sky is the limit for Oliver Bjorkstrand and the young Columbus Blue Jackets.