COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
|RW Rick Nash
GOALS: 30 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 59
SOG: 306 | +/-: -19
|G Curtis Sanford
GAA: 2.60 | SVP: 0.911
|D John Moore
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 7
SOG: 64 | +/-: -23
|Rookie center Ryan Johansen has only 19 points in 58 games, but he's third on the team in points per 60 minutes at even strength (1.41) behind only Vinny Prospal and Rick Nash.|
Neither of the team's big offseason acquisitions, Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, met expectations because of suspension and injuries (for Wisniewski), as well as injury and ineffectiveness (for Carter). More injuries followed, but poor goaltending from Steve Mason was another huge problem during the team's miserable start.
How to fix it?
The Blue Jackets need to find a solution, both for the short- and long-term, in net. Sanford delivered respectability, and Mason has been better since switching his gear to be more comfortable but expect the Jackets to look outside the organization for a solution. The Rick Nash Trade Saga, version 2.0, will commence once the playoffs are over as the organization tries to find the right return for the franchise player. If Nash is traded, the Blue Jackets will rebuild around Johansen, Moore and a top-two pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Three reasons for hope:
1. Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko will draw comparisons to Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin because they are two Russians expected to go 1-2 in the June draft. Columbus will be banking on one of them to fulfill such high expectations.
2. There are needs everywhere, but the defense corps is not in that bad of shape. Moore could be at least a solid No. 2 in the near future, while Wisniewski and Jack Johnson should make Columbus above-average offensively on the blue line. Toss in Fedor Tyutin, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot and David Savard and the Blue Jackets have plenty of NHL-caliber options with a solid long-term outlook as well.
3. Johansen could absolutely be a No. 1 center in a year or two, and Cam Atkinson has top-six potential. Toss in one of the Russians listed above, and that could be half the team's top six forwards for the next decade. Columbus has added several extra picks in this draft to supplement the farm system with more prospects.