In the 14 years of the Columbus Blue Jackets existence, they
never had a season as successful as 2013-14. They set new franchise records in
wins (43), points (93), goals for (231) and goals against (216). After missing
the playoffs in the previous four seasons, the Blue Jackets made the postseason
for the second time and won their first ever playoff game in game two versus
Scott Hartnell – RW R.J
Umberger – LW
Brian Gibbons – C Nikita
Nikitin – D
Jerry D’Amigo – RW Derek
MacKenzie – C
Frattin – RW
Blake Comeau – LW
Jack Skille – RW
Nick Schultz – D
Cody Bass – C
McKenna – G
Columbus lost a lot of depth pieces this summer, but come
into 2014-15 with a very similar lineup to the one they put out on the ice last
season. Their key offseason move came on June 23rd when they sent R.J Umberger
and a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Flyers for 32-year-old winger Scott Hartnell.
“You look at the age of these guys, it’s fair to say they’re
going to have a good team for the next five or six years,” Hartnell said.
“That’s one thing I made clear before saying yes to the trade: I want to win.
They were on the same page with that. I was really pleased to hear that.”
The veteran winger is a two-time 30-goal scorer and should
have no problem getting at least 20 goals this season. Hartnell rarely misses
games due to injury, something that can not be said about Nathan Horton. In his
first year in Columbus, Horton missed 46 games after undergoing shoulder
surgery and then also had abdominal surgery in April. The two veteran wingers
could very likely land on the Jackets’ top line with 22-year-old sensation Ryan Johansen. He entered last season with 14 goals and 19 assists in his first 107
games (.302 PPG) but took a giant step forward scoring 33 goals with 30 assists
(63 points) in 82 games (.768 PPG).
While they have some solid talent up front, including
Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner it is their
goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky that drives the Blue Jackets’ bus. After winning
the 2013 Vezina Trophy, some regression was expected last year, but he still
turned in a great season. He went 32-20-5 with a 2.38 GAA (17th in the NHL) and
.923 SV% (t-7th).
On the blueline the Jackets have a number of capable contributors. They have a few up-and-coming young defensemen which allowed them
to move Nikita Nikitin to Edmonton this summer. James Wisniewski paced the
back-end with 51 points last season (7G / 44A).
Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin also pitch in for the Blue
Jackets and each of them have been extremely consistent throughout their
careers. The most interesting defensemen from a growth perspective is
20-year-old Ryan Murray. He was the second overall pick in 2012 and recorded
four goals and 17 assists (21 points) in 66 games during his rookie season. He
averaged close to 20-minutes a night last year and will likely take on even
more responsibilities this season.
Season prediction: The Blue Jackets will finish third in the
Metropolitan Division and make the playoffs for back-to-back seasons for the
first time in their franchises history.
View the Blue Jackets’ entire roster and cap space heading
into the 2014 – 2015 season.