Rant Sports NHL 30 in 30: Columbus Blue Jackets Preview

Russell LaBounty-US Presswire

2011-12 Recap

Every fan of the Columbus Blue Jackets would really, really like to forget this past season. It was bad right out of the gate with their worst start in franchise history. In January Todd Richards replaced Scott Arniel as head coach, and shortly after that came the rumors that Rick Nash wanted to be traded, which probably didn’t do anything for morale.

A frozen clock at the end of their February 1 game against the Los Angeles Kings cost them a point. Their only two winning streaks were four games and three games respectively. To cap off the season from hell, they ended up dead last in the league for the first time in the existence of the franchise. Alas, unlike Pamela Ewing, fans didn’t wake up to find that it had all been a bad dream.

Key Additions

There were a lot of them. First was Sergei Bobrovsky, who will back up Steve Mason if he doesn’t take the starting spot himself. Then came the 2012 NHL Draft, with second overall pick Ryan Murray, goalie Oscar Dansk and winger Daniel Zaar, among others.

A trade with the Ottawa Senators brought Nick Foligno and his skill to the team. Once free agency hit, Adrian Aucoin was signed, adding some experience and mentoring to the fold. Last but certainly not least, the Blue Jackets welcomed Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon at the end of July via a trade with the New York Rangers for a certain captain.

Key Subtractions

Please give our regards to Broadway, Mr. Nash.

X-Factor

If Dubinsky is put on a line with R.J. Umberger, that could be a huge asset, especially since their style of play is so similar. And keep an eye on Jack Johnson – he has potential to become captain, and his defensive skills were a shot in the arm for the Blue Jackets when he joined the team in February.

Breakout Player

Murray has some serious potential to bolster the blue line and could be a top six defenseman on the team. The tricky part for him will be making the team out of training camp. But as the Magic 8 Ball says, all signs point to yes on that.

2012-2013 Outlook

The Blue Jackets have some real fire power added to the roster in Dubinsky, Anisimov and Foligno, and Cam Atkinson and Ryan Johansen will definitely add to that. The duo of Johnson and James Wisniewski will continue to be a top defensive pair, and Murray could be key on the blue line if he’s on the team. If Mason can be consistent in net this season, he’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

The bottom line: if everything comes together and stays there, the Blue Jackets could have a shot at making the playoffs as a lower seed or being on the bubble at the very least. At this point, even that bubble would make them feel like they’re on top of the world.

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