A year ago at this time, the Columbus Blue Jackets were a very different looking team. Scott Howson still had a job, and Rick Nash still hadn’t been traded despite months of rumors. Fast forward to today, and this is a club that doesn’t look anything like that anymore, in more ways than one.
This is now a competitive team. The Blue Jackets hung around in the playoff race until the last day of the regular season, a couple months longer than anyone realistically had expected. Overall, it’s a roster that looks much different than it did a year ago. The new front office has overhauled this group, creating a new core where the likes of Rick Nash used to be.
That core is obviously led by Marian Gaborik. After trading Nash, the Blue Jackets really lacked a marketable forward, despite a few solid ones on the roster. Acquiring Gaborik at the deadline was a move that no one had expected, but paid off, as he performed very well in his few weeks with the Jackets.
He’s now away from John Tortorella and in a market with much less spotlight on him. Despite the lowered expectations that come with playing in Columbus, he’s still the offensive leader of this team, and the leader of this new core that has been established. But he’s not the only core member that has been acquired in the past year or two.
A kid like Artem Anisimov is also someone who can be considered a core player for this club. His offensive game is still growing, but he’s shown plenty of potential in these last couple of years. When he was healthy this season, he was an effective player for Columbus. He’s joined up front by the likes of Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert, along with the likes of Brandon Dubinsky, who could be considered a part of this core if he can get his goal scoring back on track.
Of course, you can’t talk core without mentioning Sergei Bobrovsky. He’s a star between the pipes and established himself as an elite starter in the game this season. In front of him, you have guys like Jack Johnson, as well as this year’s no. 2 overall pick, Ryan Murray.
All in all, you have to consider this team to have a bright future. They’ve quickly revamped their roster and are now headed in the right direction, having been headed nowhere with Howson at the helm. This might not be a team to contend for a Stanley Cup next year, but they’re a team that is no longer a joke, and should at least be taken seriously moving forward.