Columbus Blue Jackets: Five New Players to Watch
Five Key Blue Jackets Additions
The Columbus Blue Jackets have definitely been busy this summer. After a disastrous season, they looked to the draft, trades and free agency for new blood to energize the roster and fans. What they got was a diverse group of players who many feel have what it takes to break the Blue Jackets out of their bottom-of-the-league-hugging ways.
The prospects, of course, are the first on everyone’s minds. The Blue Jackets gained a fresh crop of talent with their six picks, and their skills were especially evident at development camp. Although the majority of them will stay in the minors for another year or two, they’re sure to shine when they finally hit the ice in Columbus.
Free agency and trades gave the Blue Jackets a chance to add players whose particular skills would help the team. Whether they possess experience or puck handling, the players brought to the team this way each have something to give the Blue Jackets a boost.
Then there was the Rick Nash trade, which dragged out over the summer and was arguably the biggest hockey story outside of the ongoing labor negotiations. It was almost anticlimactic when it happened, but Nash got what he wanted – a trade – and the Blue Jackets gained three players.
Out of all the players added, there are five whose skills will give the Blue Jackets that shot in the arm that they need to take them out of the basement. Check out these new faces and see if you agree with the list.
Acquired: July 1 via free agency
Career stats: 121 goals, 274 assists in 1072 games
Last season: 2 goals, 7 assists in 64 games with the Phoenix Coyotes
Aucoin is a true veteran, having played with six teams over his 17 years in the NHL. Aside from the role he’ll play on the blue line alongside his younger teammates, he’s assigned himself to be a mentor to the younger players on the team, as he did in his time with the Coyotes. With Nash gone and a new captain to be named, Aucoin can provide another aspect of guidance and leadership in the locker room.
Acquired: June 22 via trade with the Philadelphia Flyers
Career stats: 43-23-10 in 83 games played, 2.73 GAA, .909 save percentage
Last season: 14-10-2 in 29 games played, 3.02 GAA, .899 save percentage
Bobrovsky backed up Ilya Brygalov last season, and he got his chance to protect the net when Bryzgalov had his shaky moments. He hasn’t had a lot of game time in his short NHL career, but that will surely change with his trade. With his talent, he’ll push Steve Mason to a higher level of play, and the two could very well be a goalie tandem that rivals the top teams in the league.
Acquired: July 23 via trade with the New York Rangers
Career stats: 81 goals, 132 assists in 323 games
Last season: 10 goals, 24 assists in 77 games
Dubinsky had a shaky season with the Rangers, who had him floating between the second and third line. He has the potential to be a strong scorer like R.J. Umberger, who’s versatile at both wing and center and can protect the puck, and would be a good compliment centering a line with a young scorer like Cam Atkinson. Fans should see him front and center for the Blue Jackets next season.
Position: Left wing
Acquired: July 1 via trade with the Ottawa Senators
Career stats: 61 goals, 87 assists in 351 games
Last season: 15 goals, 32 assists in 82 games
When the Senators had a breakout 2011-2012 season, Foligno was a part of that, and he had a career best season on top of that. Like Dubinsky, the winger was bounced around lines but never got a real chance to make waves even with increased ice time. On the Blue Jackets, he’s certain to be a standout and will surely be able to show his versatility at both forward positions.
Acquired: July 22 as the second overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft
Career stats: In three full seasons with the Everett Silvertips, 20 goals, 84 assists in 168 games
Last season: 9 goals, 22 assists in 46 games
From his play in Everett to his ice time at development camp, Murray has exceeded everyone’s expectations with his skill. At the tender age of 19, he possesses skills only previously found in seasoned veterans, handling the puck with ease. If he can dazzle the coaches at training camp – and there’s no doubt that he will - he’ll make the team and stay beyond his standard nine-game trial.