Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Puck Drops Here: Columbus Blue Jackets 2015-16 Season Preview #CBJ

By @CLulovics

HEALTHY: in good health. Not injured or sick. Those are the things that made last season for the Blue Jackets uneasy. With 502 man games lost due to injury, the Blue Jackets led the NHL in that department and setting a new club record as well. Not the type of record the team had in mind of breaking when the season started, the team in the last two months of the season went 16-4-1 and recorded a point in the last 13 games. Todd Richards will be at the helm for the group once again this year. Last season Richards became the Blue Jackets all time winning coach, surpassing former coach and current coach of the St. Louis Blues Ken Hitchcock. Going into this season the Jackets are healthy unlike last year at this previous time, so expectations are once again at an all time high.

The big acquisition for Columbus during the off season was trading for Brandon Saad who spent the previous couple years playing for the Chicago Blackhawks and winning two Stanley Cup Championships during that time.  Columbus gave up forwards Artem Anisimov, Jeremy Morin, Corey Tropp, Marko Dano, and a fourth found pick in the 2016 NHL Draft for Saad along with defenseman Michael Paliotta. Saad put up career highs last season with 23 goals 29 assists for 52 points in only his 4th professional season. To keep Saad with the Blue Jackets long term, the team inked him to a 6 year extension worth $36 million. Another big off season signing was defenseman David Savard agreeing to terms on a 5 year $21.25 million dollar extension which keeps the big, strong, well minded young fellow in town for years to come.

The 2013 Vezina trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky who last season signed a 4 year $29.7 million contract extension, is once again the main man in goal. After a couple of injuries last season (just like everyone else one the team), Sergei looks to stay healthy and prove once again why many feel that he is the best goalie in the NHL. Ryan Johansen one of the NHL'S young studs will look to build on his career best in assists and points from last season. With the projected first line of Johansen, Saad and new Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, he should have plenty of opportunities to surpass those point totals.
That first line of those three players could provide the fans with an opportunity to see something special. Boone Jenner, Brandon Dubinsky, David Clarkson, Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Scott Hartnell, Kerby Rychel and Alexander Wennberg will look to provide fire power on offense. Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, David Savard, Kevin Connauton, Dalton Prout, and a healthy Ryan Murray will provide strong help on the blue line in front of Bobrovsky.

The Blue Jackets will open up the 2015-2016 season at home on October 9th against Eastern Conference foe the New York Rangers. Beautiful Nationwide Arena is home to the Jackets. Opened in 2000, the arena seats 18,500 for hockey games. Surrounding the arena is another beautiful area called the Arena District which is home to many restaurants, bars, hotels and other outdoor places to sightsee. Across from the arena as well is the minor league stadium Huntington Park which is home to the Cleveland Indians AAA team the Columbus Clippers. So if you are ever in the Columbus area I strongly encourage you to catch a game, take in some food and drink, and spend a night at one of the many hotels which are in walking distance.

With the season fast approaching optimism, joyfulness and other emotions are high. This team has many others around the league talking about how good they can be. I feel that the Jackets will return to the playoffs this year and make a lot of noise.


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