Here are some predictions for the season that almost wasn't and the team that will be tougher than cafeteria steak.
Rick Nash will not be missed.
The time to grieve Nash’s trade has come and gone. Regardless of whether or not Blue Jackets fans believe the team got enough in return for its face of the franchise, talk of no. 61’s absence will not dominate intermission discussions.
Sure, Nash was a 30-goal scorer and the team’s lone All-Star representative since Espen Knutsen earned the honor in 2002, but he wasn’t the superstar Columbus needed. He was a power forward on a team that couldn’t put pucks on net.
When you consider the fact that R.J. Umberger notched 20 goals last season Nash’s contribution doesn’t seem as vital to the team’s success. Furthermore, Vinny Prospal came only four points shy of Nash’s team leading 59.
Nash is a player that thrives when surrounded by skill players, but he never had that luxury in the state capital. Dubinsky and Anisimov should more than make up for Nash’s departure.
It will be another year of blue-collar hockey in Columbus and the team has acquired better personnel to fit the mold.
Jenner will fly with the Falcons
Todd Richards announced on Thursday that Blue Jackets top prospect Boone Jenner had been reassigned to the OHL's Oshawa Generals and that Tim Erixon had been bumped down to AHL's Springfield Falcons
Columbus will keep Jenner with the Falcons for the entirety of the abbreviated season to avoid burning a year of his entry-level contract. In the 48-game season, call-ups can play a maximum of five games before one year of their entry-level deal is used.
Jenner has the potential to be the Blue Jackets’ next big name and Columbus’ front office under the direction of John Davidson understands this. As the team has learned in the past, big names are hard to keep in the 614 and even harder when they’re asking for a big wad of dough when it comes time to negotiate their second contract.
Mason will make a comeback
Every year this argument is about as lofty as the rainbow backhanders that seem to always beat Mason’s glove hand, BUT, this year is different because of one man: Sergei Bobrovsky.
Before Bobrovsky was dealt to Columbus he pushed the spaceman Ilya Bryzgalov in Philadelphia, and one could argue that Bryzgalov has had a bit more success in the league than Mason. By that I mean, if Bobrovsky can push a goalie who has posted a 2.52 GAA over 10 seasons, he can probably push goalie who has been in a three-year hibernation.
Mason will get the picture quickly…and if he doesn’t I’ll save this prediction and insert it in next year’s post.