All That Has Transpired: Columbus Blue Jackets

We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.

Today, we take a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets.

By: Andy Hughes (@PensNation_Andy)

CBJ

Columbus Blue Jackets

2013-14 Season: 43-32-7 – 93 points – (4th Metropolitan Division; 7th Eastern Conference)

Many hockey fans were shocked when the Flyers traded Scott Hartnell to Columbus in the offseason. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Many hockey fans were shocked when the Flyers traded Scott Hartnell to Columbus in the offseason. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Free Agents Signed:
F Brian Gibbons (Pittsburgh)
RW Simon Hjalmarsson

Free Agents Lost:
RW Blake Comeau (Pittsburgh)
C Derek MacKenzie (Florida)
RW Cody Bass (Chicago)
G Mike McKenna (Arizona)
RW Jack Skille (New York Islanders)
D Nick Schultz (Philadelphia)
G Jeremy Smith (Boston)
C Carter Camper (Ottawa)
D Patrick McNeill (Arizona)

Trades:

Matt Frattin to Toronto for Jerry D’Amigo and a 2015 seventh-round draft pick
Nikita Nikitin to Edmonton for a 2014 fifth-round draft pick
R.J. Umberger and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick to Philadelphia for Scott Hartnell

Promising Prospects:
C Alexander Wennberg
D Mike Reilly
RW Oliver Bjorkstrand
C Sonny Milano
LW Kerby Rychel

Columbus Blue Jackets fans can finally breathe again. The team announced today that they have finally agreed to terms with restricted free agent Ryan Johansen on a three-year contract. Johansen, 22, who led the team in goals (33) and points (63) last season, will receive a total of $12 million in the deal. The young center is a key piece to the franchise’s future and went through a very dramatic offseason with the team as far as contract negotiations go. Many offers were made from both parties, but the two sides could not hammer out a deal. However, time was running out and Johansen took the best offer he could from the Blue Jackets three days before the opener.

Although Johansen stole the headlines in Columbus this offseason, the Jackets also made a significant addition to their team. They acquired LW Scott Hartnell in exchange for forward R.J. Umberger. That was a great trade for Columbus as they traded a guy (Umberger) they were thinking of buying out for a better player in Hartnell. He is a good leader and will really help the Jackets in the puck possession department. A line featuring Hartnell and Johansen should be very productive. It will even more productive if Nathan Horton can stay healthy. He hasn’t been able to prove to Columbus he was worth the big contract they gave him yet as a result of injuries.

The core players that helped Columbus make the playoffs last season and eventually lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round will return this year. However, the team did lose some role players such as Blake Comeau, Derek MacKenzie and Jack Skille to free agency. Defenseman Nick Schultz also departed after July 1st. The team was not very active in the free agent market as they only signed forwards Simon Hjalmarsson and Brian Gibbons.

Young forwards Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner are coming off some impressive seasons and should continue to develop their game. This Columbus team looks really good up front and very underrated. They have a great mix of talented young players and veterans who can still play at a high level when healthy.

Defenseman Ryan Murray had a great rookie season in the NHL and he could step up this season to lead the defenseman alongside veteran James Wisniewski. Those two will most likely play together as they did a bit last season. Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin will be back on the blue line for Columbus again as well. Columbus traded Nikita Nikitin to Edmonton in the offseason, so Tim Erixon or Dalton Prout will fill in for him alongside David Savard. If Murray takes another step in his young career and the youngsters fill in admirably , this could be a very good unit.

Sergei Bobrovsky did not win the Vezina Trophy last season, but still had a great season. Since he will be a restricted free agent next season, I would bet on him having another fantastic year again. He’ll get a big workload and should have an even better team in front of him than last year. Curtis McElhinney will once again be the backup goaltender for Columbus.

Last year’s Blue Jackets took the Penguins to the limit and looked like a team headed in the right direction. With Hartnell, a (possibly) healthy Horton and the continued development of their young players, the Blue Jackets will once again be a playoff contender.

Projected Lineup:

Scott Hartnell – Ryan Johansen – Nathan Horton
Matt Calvert – Brandon Dubinsky – Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno – Artem Anisimov – Boone Jenner
Simon Hjalmarsson – Mark Letestu – Corey Tropp
Jared Boll – Dana Tyrell

Ryan Murray – James Wisniewski
Jack Johnson – Fedor Tyutin
Tim Erixon – David Savard
Dalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney