Jul
23

Checking in on the Columbus Blue Jackets

July 23, 2014, by

Scott Hartnell should set the tone for the Blue Jackets

Last year: 43-32-7, fourth in the Metro Division. Eliminated by the Penguins in the first round.

Key additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons

Key subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Jack Skille, Derek MacKenzie, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin

Franchise direction: The Jackets are happy as clams with the way things are going after they made a surprise postseason appearance and gave Pittsburgh all it could handle in the first round of the playoffs. Columbus had to let go of a few spare parts to provide flexibility and allow the team to lock up key long-term pillars like Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky, but the team has quality reinforcements.

Salary cap: Columbus has over $14 million worth of breathing room right now, more than enough to accommodate the raise the Jackets owe Johansen. They’ll need a good chunk of that room to secure RFAs Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson as well as UFAs Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno next summer, but cap room really isn’t much of an issue for this franchise.

Prospect pipeline: The bounty from last year’s first-round bonanza – Alex Wennberg, Kerby Rychel and Marko Dano – is looking fantastic for Columbus. Goalie Oscar Dansk, Defenseman Dillon Heatherington and forward Oliver Bjorkstrand also have bright futures. D Ryan Murray missed much of his rookie year with a shoulder injury, but he’s a star in the making. Former Ranger prospect Tim Erixon could be in a make or break year.

Projection: The Jackets are a young team on the rise, but this is a classic example of an overachieving team likely to take a step back. The long-term forecast for Columbus looks terrific and they’ll probably be in the playoff hunt again, but expecting the Blue Jackets to match or exceed last season’s result might be unreasonable.

Other Metro Division offseason recaps: Flyers, Devils

13 comments

  1. Walt says:

    Columbus plays a hard nosed brand of hockey, and I like their style. As much as I hate saying this, the cave man that was added, (Hartnell), will make this team even stronger. He plays with grit, and has a nice scoring touch. Filthadelphia made a mistake trading him, especially with in it’s division!!!!!!!

  2. paulronty says:

    I’ll bet you Hartnell was traded because of problems in the locker room. No other explanation fits.

    • TxRanger says:

      That or they were like man, Hartnell sucks, lets get a guy who does not suck as bad for this guy who really sucks.

    • Section 121 says:

      I agree, Umberger for Hartnell on the ice doesn’t make sense they basically have the same cap hit.

      Umberger has never scored 30 goals (Hartnell has twice) and his production has been on the decline the last three seasons.

      Rookie mistake by Ron Hextall

  3. paulronty says:

    I think Hartnell should audition for a role as a wildling on Game Of Thrones. He’d be perfect!! 😉