|Scott Hartnell – RW||R.J Umberger – LW|
|Brian Gibbons – C||Nikita Nikitin – D|
|Jerry D’Amigo – RW||Derek MacKenzie – C|
|Matt Frattin – RW|
|Blake Comeau – LW|
|Jack Skille – RW|
|Nick Schultz – D|
|Cody Bass – C|
|Mike McKenna – G|
In the 14 years of the Columbus Blue Jackets existence, they never had a season as successful as 2013-14. They set new franchise records in wins (43), points (93), goals for (231) and goals against (216). After missing the playoffs in the previous four seasons, the Blue Jackets made the postseason for the second time and won their first ever playoff game in game two versus the Penguins.
Columbus lost a lot of depth pieces this summer, but come into 2014-15 with a very similar lineup to the one they put out on the ice last season. Their key offseason move came on June 23rd when they sent R.J Umberger and a 2015 fourth-round pick to the Flyers for 32-year-old winger Scott Hartnell.
“You look at the age of these guys, it’s fair to say they’re going to have a good team for the next five or six years,” Hartnell said. “That’s one thing I made clear before saying yes to the trade: I want to win. They were on the same page with that. I was really pleased to hear that.”
The veteran winger is a two-time 30-goal scorer and should have no problem getting at least 20 goals this season. Hartnell rarely misses games due to injury, something that can not be said about Nathan Horton. In his first year in Columbus, Horton missed 46 games after undergoing shoulder surgery and then also had abdominal surgery in April. The two veteran wingers could very likely land on the Jackets’ top line with 22-year-old sensation Ryan Johansen. He entered last season with 14 goals and 19 assists in his first 107 games (.302 PPG) but took a giant step forward scoring 33 goals with 30 assists (63 points) in 82 games (.768 PPG). He enters this season as a top-25 centre and top-75 fantasy player and has an extremely high ceiling.
While they have some solid talent up front, including Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson and Boone Jenner it is their goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky that drives the Blue Jackets’ bus. After winning the 2013 Vezina Trophy, some regression was expected last year, but he still turned in a great season. He went 32-20-5 with a 2.38 GAA (17th in the NHL) and .923 SV% (t-7th). Bobrovsky, like his fellow Russian backstop Semyon Varlamov, is ranked near the top-5 among fantasy goalies and should be drafted in the third or fourth round this September.
On the blueline the Jackets have a number of capable fantasy contributors. They have a few up-and-coming young defensemen which allowed them to move Nikita Nikitin to Edmonton this summer. James Wisniewski paced the back-end with 51 points (7G / 44A) and is the best CBJ fantasy D-man for 2014-15. Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin also pitch in for the Blue Jackets and each of them have been extremely consistent throughout their careers. Tyutin will hover around the 30-point mark, while Johnson is expected to surpass 30 with the potential for a 40-point campaign. The most notable defenseman from a fantasy perspective is the 20-year-old Ryan Murray. He was the second overall pick in 2012 and recorded four goals and 17 assists (21 points) in 66 games during his rookie season. He averaged close to 20-minutes a night last year and will likely take on even more responsibilities this season. He makes for an excellent keeper league option and if he continues to make progress he will be a hot commodity in re-draft leagues as well.
Look to the Draft (Ranking Blue Jackets’ Fantasy Players)
- Sergei Bobrovsky – G
- Ryan Johansen – C
- Brandon Dubinsky – C/LW
- Scott Hartnell – LW
- James Wisniewski – D
- Nathan Horton – RW
- Jack Johnson – D
- Ryan Murray – D
- Cam Atkinson – RW
- Artem Anisimov – C
Click HERE for the Blue Jackets’ potential line combinations heading into the 2014-15 season.
Season prediction: The Blue Jackets will finish third in the Metropolitan Division and make the playoffs for back-to-back seasons for the first time in their franchises history.