Around the NHL in 30 Days: Columbus Blue Jackets

The Fansided NHL Network, that SenShot is proud to be a member of, is embarking on its NHL preview. Each day in September, one of its members will be posting a preview for their club.  SenShot will look at their preview, and let you have a look.  After that, we will provide our own perspective.  Jared will handle the Western Conference teams while Tony will look at the East.

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets made a splash in the off-season by finally acquiring a centre who can play alongside Rick Nash, when they sent Jakob Voracek and the 8th overall pick to Philadelphia for Jeff Carter.  They also added one of the top defensemen available when they traded for the rights to, and subsequently signed James Wisniewski to a huge contract.  Was it enough to move the Jackets from also-ran to playoff contender?

In about a month — Friday, October 7th, to be exact — the Jackets will take the ice for the first game of the 2011-12 campaign, welcoming (hopefully not warmly) the Nashville Predators to Nationwide Arena. It should prove to be an interesting CBJ season, with some big moves this offseason leading to some pretty high hopes for the Union Blue faithful. In this edition of the Weekly Reader, we’ll take a look at some of the things you’ll need to know leading into the season.

Key Arrivals
Jeff Carter, C (traded from Philadelphia)
James Wisniewski, D (signed in free agency)
Mark Dekanich, G (signed in free agency)

Key Departures
Jakub Voracek, RW (traded to Philadelphia)
Nikita Filatov, LW (traded to Ottawa)
Jan Hejda, D (signed with Colorado)
Mathieu Garon, G (signed with Tampa Bay)

Blue Jacket fans breathed an enormous collective sigh of relief in June with the addition of Carter, finally giving the CBJ the top-line center that has been missing from the lineup for years. This is far and away the most significant move the Jackets made during the summer. Carter was an NHL all-star in Philadelphia, and by all accounts a great addition to the locker room and franchise. He may not have been initially thrilled with the trade away from the Flyers, the only other NHL team for whom he’s played in his career, but he has to be excited to line up next to one of the league’s legitimate superstars, Rick Nash. Captain Nash was

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Here is SenShot‘s thoughts on the upcoming season for the Blue Jackets:

Jared‘s thoughts ~

As for me, I think the Blue Jackets will be a better club, but the depth still isn’t there to make them a playoff team.  However, if Steve Mason can return to the level he played at as an 18 year old rookie, they have a shot.

The 1-2 punch of Carter and Nash gives them the best chance for consistent offense that they have ever had, and the up and coming Ryan Johansen will also help in that area.  Whether it is this year or next will be decided in the next couple of weeks.

The blue line is not the strongest group in the league, but Wisniewski has the chance to prove that he can carry the load as a #1 defenseman, that he is now getting paid as.  If he can’t handle that responsibility, it could be a fatal signing for the Blue Jackets.

This will probably be another year of being on the outside looking in come April, a drought that Jackets’ fans hope can end sooner rather than later.

Tony‘s thoughts ~

As it is evident by the moves the Jackets made this off-season, they are definitely going for it. But on the other hand, it could also be the moves of a desperate GM who is trying to save his job.

Columbus’ GM Scott Howson is entering his fifth season as the Jackets GM with little success during his tenure. With only one playoff appearance in franchise history, which ended with four straight loses, Howson is on the hot seat.

With the Jackets near the higher end of the salary cap, and with financial loses piling up, this is a very important year for the the franchise. Another year out of the playoffs could mean that the Jackets could follow in the footsteps of the former Atlanta Thrashers.

The Jackets went all in with their moves this summer and with less then five million in cap space left, they have little room for error. Is Jeff Carter the answer at center for Rick Nash? Is James Wisniewski a number one defenseman? Will Steve Mason ever re-capture his magic from his rookie season? These are a lot of questions for a team hoping to contend for a playoff position. This all adds up to a very desperate franchise making desperate moves to make the playoffs. If the Jackets are not careful this year, this season could potentially be fatal.

Will they make the playoffs this season? I think they will battle all season long to be in contention for the last few spots in the Western Conference and will need some luck to get in. They’ll squeak in if Mason can carry them. If not, it’ll be a long year for Blue Jacket fans.

Now you know our thoughts on the Blue Jackets upcoming season, let us know yours.

Check back here tomorrow when we preview the Dallas Stars and their upcoming season.

 **Don’t forget to buy your Tickets for SenShot’s Alfie Night in Ottawa on November 11th, 2011. Click here for more details**

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Tags: Around The NHL In 30 Days: Columbus Blue Jackets CBJ Columbus Columbus Blue Jackets Dallas Stars GM Scott Howson Jeff Carter NHL Rick Nash SenShot Steve Mason

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