It sure seems like there's been a lot of talk about the Blue Jackets this summer. There's at least one national media member who believes there's a good reason for it.
After coming off a strong a 2013-14 season (including a six-game playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins), the expectations for the 2014-15 campaign were especially high.
The team couldn’t seem to shake off injuries, and ultimately wasn't able to capture a playoff spot. Management sought to bolster the team in the offseason, and promptly went to work on a blockbuster that came down on the eve of free agency.
GM Jarmo Kekalainen swung a seven-player deal to acquire Brandon Saad from Chicago and then signed veteran center Gregory Campbell. Add those two Stanley Cup winners to a team that's ripe with young talent, and the Blue Jackets think they have a strong squad.
And ESPN’s Scott Burnside seems to agree. Burnside recently listed five Stanley Cup Final matchups he’d like to see for the 2015-16 season, and on that list was an intriguing showdown between two former Central Division rivals.
Here’s what Burnside said:
“When this matchup actually unfolds next spring, I will preface all coverage with ‘as first reported by ESPN.com.’ Because it could happen. For a stretch last season Nashville was the best team in the NHL, led by Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne and two-time gold medalist and team captain Shea Weber. The Preds swooned down the stretch and were bounced in the first round by Chicago but should learn from that experience and once again be a playoff team in spite of the intense competition bound to unfold in the Central Division. Columbus, meanwhile, was last fall’s Eastern Conference darling but a rash of injuries dashed playoff hopes early. Still, the Blue Jackets played hard and were tied for the league lead in wins after March 1. Add Brandon Saad to an already hard-working, talented team and factor in former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in goal and this is a team ready to make noise.
Prediction: Columbus in 7; Scott Hartnell with the Cup-winner on a rare breakaway after the Nationwide Arena cannon inadvertently fires during a Nashville power play in double overtime.”
Other matchups included: Anaheim vs. Washington, Calgary vs. Montreal, Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis and San Jose Sharks vs. Boston.
Read the entire list online by clicking HERE.