Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Columbus Blue Jackets Season Preview 2014-15

Last season the Blue Jackets finally made an impact on the NHL. They made their first appearance in the playoffs and got their first home playoff win. The Blue Jackets put up a fight against the Penguins in the play offs last year but couldn't win the series. Although they didn't win the series, I think it was a great stepping stone for CBJ. You have to walk before you run. Columbus is coming off one of it's most successful years as a franchise and I would look for another successful year. 
Additions: Scott Hartnell, Jerry D'Amigo, Brian Gibbons
I think Scott Hartnell was CBJ's biggest off season move. They added Hartnell who is a great hockey player with a tough style of play to their roster. Both being in the Metropolitan division CBJ plays against the Penguins a lot and CBJ found success when they could get under Crosby's skin. Hartnell is a guy who can certainly do that well. Brian Gibbons is another good player that CBJ picked up. He's a young guy who I look to have some strong seasons in the future. He may not be an impact player right away but I wouldn't be surprised to see it soon. 

Departures: R.J. Umberger, Derek MacKenzie, Matt Frattin, Blake Comeau, Nikita Nikitin
I think that Umberger will be CBJ's biggest loss of the off season. He was a good player but I wouldn't be too worried if I was a CBJ fan. I think that the  young talent on the team will be able to make up for what Umberger is leaving behind. 
Positives: CBJ has some incredibly skilled players in Hartnell and Nathan Horton. I wouldn't be surprised to see both of these guys leading the team if they aren't wearing a letter. They're both guys with experiences in the play offs which is a huge advantage for a young team. The biggest positive for CBJ is their incredible goaltender Bobrovsky. The guy is a brick wall. Cam Atkinson is another skilled player who really started to prove himself last season so I expect his stats this season to keep climbing. He's a small guy but is incredibly skilled with the puck and has a knack for putting the biscuit in the oven. 

Negatives: Right now, I would say that the biggest negative for CBJ is the whole Ryan Johansen situation. They haven't been able to lock down this stud center due to disputes over the contract. The whispers in dark alleys around the hockey community is that Johansen's agent is really hindering him. Rather than just getting a deal done he keeps pushing. The whole controversy has been a pretty big public affair and I can't believe that Johansen's camp rejected some of the offers that CBJ offered. If nothing happens before the start of the season it will continue to be a big distraction which is never good for a team. If they do get a deal done before the season starts I wouldn't be surprised to see CBJ start slow. When one of your best players isn't there for training camp it hinders the whole team. The guys need time to mesh with their lineys and they won't have been able to do that.

Overall: I think the Blue Jackets have a good chance of being a low-seeded play off team next season. They aren't a powerhouse yet but I think they have what it takes to make the play offs. I do not expect them to get too far but just making the play offs is a good spot to start. 

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