To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: Columbus Blue Jackets
2014-15 record: 42-35-5, 5th in the Metropolitan
How they finished: Did not make the playoffs
Coach: Todd Richards (5th season)
Notable additions: LW Brandon Saad, C Gregory Campbell
Notable subtractions: C Artem Anisimov, RW Marko Dano, C Mark Letestu
Schedule against the Capitals: Fri. Oct. 30 at Washington, Sat. Jan. 2 at Columbus, Tue. Jan. 19 at Columbus, Mon. Mar. 28 at Washington
Outlook: The story in Columbus is injuries. The injury bug bit the Blue Jackets and bit hard as Columbus lost an NHL-high 508 man-games last season. Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Matt Calvert, Mark Letestu, Ryan Murray and, most importantly, Sergei Bobrovsky all played in 56 games or fewer which quickly erased a strong start and had the Blue Jackets on the outside of the playoff window looking in for much of the season.
Even players they traded for weren't safe. Columbus brought in David Clarkson mid-season, but he played a whopping three games before he tore an oblique muscle and sat the rest of the year.
Even with all the injury issues, however, Columbus still fell only nine points shy of the final wild card spot. The injuries can't possibly be as bad this season. Just by getting a healthy Bobrovsky back, this is a team that should be in the mix for the playoffs.
Murray is also a player to be excited about. He is the future at blue line for this team and I can't wait to see him for a full season (hopefully).
Columbus made headlines this summer with a major trade to bring in Brandon Saad. Not only does Saad and free agent signing Gregory Campbell both bring Stanley Cup winning experience to the roster, but Saad is a rising star who should immediately step into the Blue Jackets' top line. Saad made a name for himself on a Chicago team with notable stars like Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. That's saying something. Expect a breakout year from Saad on the top line playing with Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen.
Expectations: Even if the Blue Jackets did nothing over the offseason, they would be in a good position to challenge for the postseason just by getting healthy.
But Columbus didn't just sit on their hands this summer, they added an up and coming star in Saad. Assuming they can stay healthy this year, this is a clear playoff team and a dark horse to win the division. Their championship window isn't open yet, but they took a big step in the right direction.
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See more team previews:
New Jersey Devils 8/25
New York Islanders 8/26
New York Rangers 8/27
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29
Washington Capitals 8/30