If there was ever an on again off again team in the NHL, at the moment the prize could certainly go to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Just two seasons ago they were the surprise of the league, with a stellar regular season and a respectable run in the playoffs. As a result, expectations were high entering last season, but early on it was already apparent that those expectations would be short lived. With last season ending in disappointment, the fans in Columbus have been spending this offseason in eager anticipation of which direction the team would head in come October.
To this point in the off season, the Blue Jackets appear to be working towards making their fan base most happy, with all indications being that they will be even stronger than the team they put on the ice two years ago. To begin, they have already added winger Brandon Saad to the club, and he is sure to complement Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno well on the front line of the offense. Early on during the free agency period, the Blue Jackets lost Mark Letestu to the Edmonton Oilers, but the team immediately set out to replace him. They did this in productive fashion by signing Gregory Campbell, further solidifying the offense for the coming season. With that done, the focus would need to shift to the defense, which is the primary factor behind their recent struggles.
Graphic via cbslocal
Columbus is well on their way to shoring up the many gaps that have persisted themselves on the defensive front. Bob Bobrovsky will be in goal, and he is arguably the best in the NHL. He singlehandedly can keep the Blue Jackets in a game, but he desperately needs some help on the back end of the ice. While they are making progress, the club is still seeking out one or two quality signings that can help them in this regard. Reality is that last season saw the Blue Jackets suffer through the highest number of injury games missed in the NHL. They need younger and healthier players. They need to be able to go deeper into the game and allow less shots on goal. The only way to do that, however, is to use this offseason to acquire some young talent, and a veteran player that can help the club push through to make the playoffs.
Graphic via nhl
To develop a roster that is primed to make the playoffs, it is perhaps fitting that Columbus used their first strategic move of the offseason by going after the team that won it all last season. Brandon Saad is coming to the club by way of Chicago, where he scored 23 goals and had 29 assists last season. At only 22 years of age, he is the quality young player that the team needs to perhaps bring renewed motivation and enthusiasm to Columbus. With this signing, and the few others made to this point, there is hope once again buzzing amongst the Blue Jacket faithful.
Graphic via nhl