IN: W NATHAN HORTON; C JACK SKILLE
LAST YEARS RECORD: 24-17-7 55 POINTS 9TH IN WEST
If there is one team that scares me in this new division, it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets. Why? No one is really treating them as a threat and they should be. This team did very well despite missing the playoffs and they did not lose anyone significant in the off season. What remains to be seen is how this team can play a full season against a very tough division.
Offense: Moving to the Eastern Conference only made Columbus a better traveling destination for some free agents including Nathan Horton who will undoubtedly will improve on the Blue Jackets offense. The issue is that he had surgery and is not expected back until mid season. The Blue Jackets must find the offense sooner if they expect to make a legit run to the playoffs.
Defense: The penalty kill was ranked 11th in the League last year and no changes were made. A steady maturation of the younger players should go a long way to improve the defense along with the veteran leadership of Adrian Aucoin.
Goaltending: When you have a Vezina winner, that means most of the games you play will at least be close. Bobrovsky will keep his team in every game and the rest of the Eastern Conference will have to figure him out. The one thing against him? He played in Philly just a few years back, so most players are already familiar with his game.
Outlook: You’re gonna have to be the goaltender to beat this team. Look for Horton to come in mid season and watch Columbus make a late season push. The players on this team know what it takes to make the playoffs and there is plenty of young depth to supplement any injuries suffered to the season. They’re behind Philly and the Islanders in this division, but don’t turn your backs on them.