The off-season wasn't exactly the busiest times for the Jackets, which suggests that management's confidence in the core group is running quite high and the team figure to only tinker a little bit. The Jackets did manage to pull of a significant trade to upgrade their forward ranks and they were also able to add a couple of minor players, who likely won't shift much early on.
There is still some work to be done, but for the most part, you can see that the team is moving in the right direction, as their prospects mature into everyday players and their number one goalie remains as hot as he's been over the last couple of seasons.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|Nathan Horton||50||5.300||James Wisniewski||45||5.500||Sergei Bobrovsky||80||5.625|
|Scott Hartnell||50||4.750||Jack Johnson||35||4.357||Curtis McElhinney||15||0.650|
|Brandon Dubinsky||50||4.200||Ryan Murray||35||0.894|
|Cam Atkinson||45||1.150||Fedor Tyutin||30||4.500|
|Artem Anisimov||40||3.283||David Savard||15||1.300|
|Nick Foligno||35||3.083||Dalton Prout||10||1.075|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||1.142|
|Brian Gibbons||30||0.750||Cody Goloubef||5||0.625|
|Corey Tropp||20||0.625||Tim Erixon||5||0.600|
First Round Picks
Remember when the only Blue Jackets player worth thinking about in this spot was Rick Nash? Seems like ages since we even had that thought in our heads, doesn't it? Well, the Jackets may have one player worthy and if you're feeling adventurous enough, there may be a second. Sergei Bobrovsky has to be considered in the opening round, especially if he gets the minutes in the crease, as he has started to win games and trophies with the Jackets and he'll be tough to turn down.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The injury-plagued 2014 for Nathan Horton wasn't the best introduction to his first season in Columbus, but he did leave an impression on the club and with us poolies, scoring 19 points in 38 games for the club, after his return. The 2015 season should be his first real chance to show off his talents for the full year and score better than half a point-per-game, even if it is marginally better. Unfortunately, Horton wasn't able to show off us playoff prowess, which he gained in Boston, with his new club, as an abdominal injury sidelined him to end his season prematurely. I am looking to Horton for a big bounce back year.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The Jackets have put together a good grinding core of players in the last couple years, adding Scott Hartnell to the list, along with Brandon Dubinsky, both will help lead this team forward, grinding it out the hard way. This may be the year where Cam Atkinson really shows his stuff and Artem Anisimov finds his groove in Columbus, both will be looked upon for that key secondary scoring down the stretch. This won't be the flashiest group of forwards in the league, but when you look at these names on paper, you can feel the work ethic jump right off the page.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
The assembled group on the blueline is nothing to be sneezed at either. James Wisniewski leads a decent bunch, destined to pick up some points on a nightly basis. Jack Johnson, sophomore Ryan Murray and Fedor Tyutin will all be reasonable pick-ups in the draft this year. Kind of like the forwards, it isn't a group that screams offense, rather it is a group that you can ask to jump on the ice and expect a lot of the right decisions to be made. All very pool worthy this year.
When you have the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner on your side and he has a comparable year in 2014, you should feel pretty safe that he will be your number one again in 2015. Sergei Bobrovsky will be the outright number one and a likely 1st round pick, while his back-up, Curtis McElhinney, returns for another year after a decent support campaign last year. McElhinney won 10 games and earned 25 points for the Jackets last year, but I do have his points down, not really expecting shutouts from his game.
Team To Pick From Late?
Scoring depth may be an issue in most positions for the Jackets, relying more on their top six to get the job done. There could be a few players that might make the jump up, but they would be a gamble, at best, where you might be able to still find some solid bets for points elsewhere.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Jackets only have one player remaining on their list of things to accomplish and it just so happens to be a key piece of the franchise in Ryan Johansen. Johansen, who had a breakout year in 2014, finished his entry-level deal and the negotiations have been somewhat publicized as being difficult. Johansen certainly has the potential to be the leader of this club and in a way, he wants the team to pay him like he will be. He doesn't have a terrible argument, but the Jackets management want to remain shrewd with their cap space and keeping Johansen in check will be a priority.
The Jackets have lots of cap space left, $17.5 million, with only five roster spots left to fill. Johansen could be anywhere in the $3 to $5 million range with a new deal, which will cut into that significantly, but the prospects they could use on the last spots will keep costs down.
Looks like everyone has the green light for training camp. Even Horton. This could be a very good team, if they can stay healthy.