The Columbus Blue Jackets enter the 2013-14 season as a team on the cusp of respectability. After so many years of futility, they fell a game short of a playoff berth in the 2013 season, leaving them with some positive news and hope for the future. Which means the new season will come with expectations, something not exactly in line with the norm in Columbus.
They already made one improvement towards improving their club, signing Nathan Horton to a seven-year deal. While it was a major overpayment, and he won’t even be ready until December, he’s the type of offensive player that they needed, in addition to a full season of Marian Gaborik, who was acquired at the trade deadline.
The Blue Jackets have made some significant improvements over the last year, and it’s likely enough to get them into the playoff picture next season. But even with the recent moves in mind, it’s no guarantee. One move that could help to put them over the top would be signing Mikhail Grabovski.
The recently bought out Grabovski is still looking for a home almost a week after his buyout from the Toronto Maple Leafs. He likely has several suitors, but we have no real indication of where he could end up to this point. The Blue Jackets would be wise to be among his suitors.
It’s tough to look at his 2013 season and make a judgement about him based on that. He was horribly misused by the coaching staff in Toronto, as he saw a big decrease in minutes and played most of the season on a third line. Not the place for a guy capable of playing top line minutes.
The Blue Jackets could use a player of his caliber in the middle. He’s a three-time 20-goal scorer, an excellent playmaker in the middle, and a solid asset on the power play. He’s also a strong player at the faceoff dot, winning 48 percent of draws for his career, including over 50 percent in the past two years.
Columbus very well may have been players on Brad Richards if he was bought out, but they were not able to pursue him, as he was retained. They have an opportunity to go out and get a top six forward, though, in Mikhail Grabovski. If the money is right, and it should be as he’s already taking home money after the buyout, this is a move the Blue Jackets should jump all over.