Eastern Conference: Jackets move East

Eastern Conference: Jackets move East
August 30, 2013, 10:30 am
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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

Projected Lineup

Forwards

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

Defense

Fedor Tyutin – Nikita Nikitin

Tim Erixon – James Wisniewski

Jack Johnson – Dalton Prout

Goaltenders

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].