COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
2012-13: 24-17-7, 55 points
Where they finished: 4th in the Central; 9th in the West; 17th in the NHL
Coach: Todd Richards (3rd season)
Key additions: RW Nathan Horton, RW Jack Skille, G Curtis McElhinny
Key subtractions: C Colton Gillies, C Nick Drazenovic
Nick Foligno – Artem Anisimov – Marian Gaborik
Cam Atkinson– Brandon Dubinsky – Nathan Horton
R.J. Umberger– Ryan Johansen – Mark Letestu
Matt Calvert – Derek MacKenzie– Blake Comeau
Fedor Tyutin – Nikita Nikitin
Tim Erixon – James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson – Dalton Prout
Sergei Bobrovsky – Curtis McElhinney
Our take: Last season the Blue Jackets recorded two fewer points than the Capitals, who won the Southeast Division, but finished out of the playoffs in ninth place in the West with 55 points. The Jackets, who will be joining the East this season in the Metropolitan Division, finished with an identical record as the New York Islanders, who clinched the final playoff spot in the East.
Columbus has legitimate depth at the forward position with Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, Nathan Horton, Mark Letestu and R.J. Umberger, but they could use some help on the back end, where Fedor Tytutin and Nikita Nikitin make up their top pairing.
Last year the Jackets’ greatest strength was between the pipes, where Sergei Bobrovsky became a Vezina Trophy winner with a 2.00 GAA and 21-11-6 record. In fact, it can be argued that if coach Todd Richards had turned to Bobrovsky earlier in the season, the Blue Jackets would have made the post-season They were 3-6-1 in games Bobrovksy did not play.
Columbus should benefit from a better travel schedule this season and will be a difficult opponent to keep out of the playoff mix.
Offseason Grade: C
Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14: Flip a coin. [We’ll say no].