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Foligno on Saad trade: "It's a big statement"

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

May 20 seems like forever ago, doesn't it?

It has been a little over two months since the Blue Jackets formally introduced Nick Foligno as the sixth captain in franchise history. Foligno, 27, is coming off a career year of 31 goals and 73 points, leading the team in both categories and has undergone a significant transformation of his game since joining the Jackets three years ago.

These are uncharted waters, one could say, as the Blue Jackets enter the 2015-16 season with a captain for the first time since 2012 and even higher expectations than they had a year ago. The key talking point this summer: the acquisition of left wing Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks, a can-you-believe-that trade that gives the Blue Jackets a top-end 1-2 punch on their projected No. 1 line.

Both Saad and Ryan Johansen (his expected center) are only 22 years old, which gives many around the hockey world reason to believe that this duo will have a big impact in Columbus for the foreseeable future.

Foligno, who caught up with Sportsnet at the Smile Zone Foundation golf tournament in Milton, Ont., is a fan of the Saad trade and said it raises the bar even more.

“I was really, really happy," Foligno said. "The organization is making a statement about what type of team we want to be, how serious we are about winning. You bring in a player like Brandon Saad, who’s won two Cups already, it’s a big statement."

Foligno reached out to Saad and fellow newcomer Gregory Campbell (as did several other Blue Jackets players) shortly after news broke about their acquisitions. The resounding response: excitement, anticipation, and the feeling that this group has a chance to be a strong hockey team.

“They were really receptive and eager to come, and it’s going to make a huge difference come training camp when they feel that way already and can start helping us win games,” Foligno said. "I’m looking forward to leading by committee. We have a lot of great guys there. That’s going to allow me to take it as I go, not get too overwhelmed, and have a lot of fun with it.”

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