In the past two weeks the Columbus Blue Jackets have gone from the Western Conference basement to just outside of playoff contention. The goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky has the team riding a 10-game point streak, but a lack of scoring continues to be a problem. With a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in four years, the Blue Jackets will soon face a big decision: do they want to pursue a “rental” scoring threat for the final month of the season or are they content to just see where they end up and keep planning for the future? They have yet to come close to making up for the scoring they lost when they traded Rick Nash over the summer and won’t be able to move past where they currently are without at least one more piece in place.
The Blue Jackets have survived a lot of injuries this season, and have been forced to call up more than a handful of prospects from the AHL Springfield Falcons. Thankfully, they have a lot of solid prospects there, and might be able to get a decent return for a young defenseman like Cody Goloubef or Dalton Prout. With 2012 draft pick Ryan Murray likely to join the team next season, there will be a shortage of roster spots for the number of prospects the Blue Jackets have. Getting rid of now-backup goaltender Steve Mason would be a huge relief, but is highly unlikely given his $3.2 million contract and incredibly poor performance over the past two seasons.
With the schedule as condensed as it is this season, a couple of bad games could have the Blue Jackets right back down near the bottom of the conference by the end of the month. However, if they stay in contention it will be very interesting to see if they are buyers at the trade deadline – that’s something that hasn’t been seen in a few years.