Make no mistake: hockey is a team sport and there are plenty of factors that go into a successful season.
There are, however, some important pieces in the mix and the Blue Jackets are no exception. They've fortified their group of forwards and now boast as much depth as they've ever had up front after the acquisitions of Brandon Saad and Gregory Campbell, who will fill needed roles.
Between the pipes is one of the game's best in Sergei Bobrovsky, only two years removed from a Vezina Trophy and coming off yet another 30-win season in 2014-15. He's backed up by veteran Curtis McElhinney, who has turned his game around under the tutelage of goaltending coach Ian Clark.
On the back end, though, the Blue Jackets are less proven. They have steady veterans in Fedor Tyutin and Jack Johnson, emerging players in David Savard, Dalton Prout, Kevin Connauton and Cody Goloubef, but they have one question mark.
21-year-old Ryan Murray played only 12 games last season due to knee and ankle injuries, and it created a significant void on the Columbus defense. He's been working all summer to get back into top shape and be ready to go for training camp (which begins in a month's time), and the Blue Jackets could sure use a bounce-back campaign from him.
So much so that ESPN.com's Craig Custance sees Murray as the Blue Jackets' most important player for the upcoming season.
Here's an excerpt:
"That's what makes Murray so critical to the Blue Jackets' success this season. If we’re going to take the Blue Jackets seriously as a future Stanley Cup contender, they need their anchor on defense. They need their Duncan Keith or Drew Doughty.
The Blue Jackets expect Murray to be completely healthy to start training camp this season, and if he emerges as the Blue Jackets’ best defenseman, that likely means things are going really well for Columbus in the standings because the Blue Jackets are in great shape everywhere else on the roster."
Read the rest of the story at ESPN.com.