My projected lineup of the 2012-2013 Blue Jackets:
Foligno - Brassard - Dubinsky
Prospal – johansen – Anisimov
Mackenzie – Letestu - Umberger/Atkinson
Calvert - Boll - Dorsett
Spares: Chaput, Drazenovic, Gillies, Kubalik
Wisniewski – Johnsson
Tyutin - Nikitin
Savard – Aucoin
Spares: Murray, Erixon, Blomqvist
Spares: Mason, mcelhinney
I already mentionned it, the Red Wings are my second favorite team so I get to watch alot of western conference hockey and... sleep very late. I watched the Jackets a few times last year and they were terrible.
The three reasons for that from my standpoint were:
- Poor goaltending
- Lack of team work
I remember last year summer when about every expert had the Jackets pencilled into the playoffs because of the additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski. Those were two bold acquisitions but unfortunately for Columbus, things started to go wrong before the season even started.
Wisniewski got suspended in the preseason for an illegal hit. Then, the team got decimated by injuries leading to the insertion of rookies that were a year or two removed from being nhl ready in the lineup.
Mason who was supposed to have a bounce back season was more porous than a sieve. Every time he let the first goal in, the team seemed to stop competing because they knew if they managed to tie the score, it would only be the perfect setup for their goalie to let a weak one in. That led to alot of individual play and it was really ugly to watch. Each time I watched that team last year, it felt strange because a year earlier, I was in the Jackets fan place, painfully realizing that Brian Elliot wasn't a number 1 goalie.
The combination of all those factors led to a cavernous season for the Blue Jackets and the next thing they knew was that they were the front-runner for the lottery pick but they couldn't even grab that slim consolation. Instead, Edmonton somehow grabbed the lottery pick for the third straigth year and stole Nail Yakupov away from them.
So to say that 2011-2012 was a bad season for the Blue Jackets would be a major understatement.
However, toward the end of the season, when Columbus acquired Jack Johnsson and someone realized Mason couldn't stop a beach ball, they started winning games more consistently. Curtis Sandford took the load nicely between the pipes and when he got injured, rookie Allen York took charge and his mind-blowing play left many observers stunned and speechless.
With a new season looming (I hope), everyone have the Jackets pencilled to finish 30th in the league. Don't it remind you something?
Sure they aren't as skilled as the Penguins or the Kings but they have alot of character and grit through their lineup. They have an exceptionally talented and deep blueline (They'll eventually need to trade some blueliners to make space for their young studs and acquire better quality fowards *cough Bryan Murray cough*) and they have multiple average/good prospects at every position that will fill nicely the void left by inevitable injuries.
When I first looked at the Nash trade, I thought NY won it by a mile but after I made the exercice of looking at their lineup from last year and projecting the one they should ice this year, I saw all the balance and character they gained via that trade. Sure they failed to grab Stefan, Hagelin, Kreider or Del Zotto but that was still a solid trade that has them in good shape for the next few years.
Overall, Howson silently made some bold move this summer and as a result, I see this Columbus Blue Jackets team as a better team than the one they iced last year. Even minus Rick Nash. That lineup does however raise some major questions. Who is going to score? Are their going to be successful at scoring by committee? Who is their game breaker?
Deja vu eh?
Sure Columbus don't have the strong veteran presences that Jason Spezza, Chris Neil, Chris Philips and Sergei Gongar provided to Ottawa when we started our rebuilt but I don't think things can go much worst then they went last season for Columbus. This Jackets team has a nice balance between veterans and youngsters and if they manage to stay healthy as a team, I can't see them finishing dead last.
I'm calling it, Columbus is going to be a bubble team to make the playoffs. You heard it here first.
The Blue Jackets have a very bright future ahead of them and their prospect pool should only get deeper and better with the three first round picks they hold for the coming draft. Again, deja vu eh?
I think Columbus will surprise a few people if things go right... just like they went right for Ottawa last season.
Where will Columbus finish next season and who won the Nash trade?
Columbus will finish last or near there. They lost the trade (38 votes)
Columbus will finish last or near there. They won the trade (8 votes)
Columbus will be a bubble team. They lost the trade (14 votes)
Columbus will be a bubble team. They won the trade (7 votes)
Columbus will make the playoffs. They Lost the trade (1 vote)
Columbus will make the playoffs. They won the trade (1 vote)
69 total votes