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NHL.com's Dan Rosen: Blue Jackets will be a "dangerous" team

by Dan Rosen / Columbus Blue Jackets


Here is the July 22 edition of Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run periodically throughout the summer. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.

Let's get to it:

Just how dangerous can the Columbus Blue Jackets be this year? -- @BlueJacketdad

I think they're a team to watch in the Metropolitan Division. If they stay healthy, I think they're a playoff team. So clearly I think they'll be pretty dangerous this season. I particularly love the combination of Ryan Johansen and Brandon Saad on the top line, if it works out that way. I think Saad is on the cusp of becoming a star player in the NHL. Johansen is already there. It should make for an excellent combination. I'd put the Blue Jackets as third or fourth in the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers, and neck and neck with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I think the addition of Saad (plus assumed health) puts the Blue Jackets a notch above the New York Islanders. I also think the addition of Phil Kessel (plus assumed health) puts the Penguins a notch above the Islanders. But I also think the Islanders are going to be a playoff team because my pick is only three will come out of the Central Division, and two of them will be the Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadiens.

Where do you see the Minnesota Wild finishing in a tough Central Division? Will they make the playoffs? -- @mustang_goalie5

A week ago in this very spot I predicted the Wild would finish first in the Central Division. Here is that mailbag with that answer.

It's a wide open division and the strongest in the League top to bottom, so the Wild could win it or they could finish outside of the playoff race. It's that close. I am picking them to win it at this point because I like what I saw from them in the second half last season, and I think their younger players such as Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba are ready to take the step into the next level. If they do, the Wild will also take the step into the next level, putting them among the elite contenders in the Western Conference. I'm also curious to see what Mike Reilly is all about. The Wild have a deep defense corps.

To me, what Devan Dubnyk did last season is not a fluke. I think he's the real deal. He was having success in Arizona before the trade; it's just that the team wasn't good enough. The Wild clearly were good enough and just needed stable goaltending. Not much changed with the Wild's skaters before and after the trade other than confidence in the goalie. It went a long way.

The Chicago Blackhawks will obviously be good again, but I don't see them winning the division. The St. Louis Blues will be good again, but I wouldn't be surprised if they take a small step backward. The Nashville Predators overachieved last season, at least in my opinion, and might also take a step backward. The Wild are going forward. The Winnipeg Jets are going to be in the playoff race, but I don't think they're good enough to win the division. Neither are the Colorado Avalanche.

Read the rest of Rosen's weekly mailbag by visiting NHL.com.

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