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Sportsnet: Jackets most likely to return to the playoffs this year

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

By now, we all know the story of 2014-15.

The Blue Jackets entered the season with high expectations, riding a wave of momentum after their first playoff appearance in five years and locking up key pieces of their core in Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen.

And then, well, adversity stuck its foot in the door and barged its way in.

It was injury after injury -- to the team's top players, nonetheless -- that made it difficult for Todd Richards and his staff to ice a consistent lineup while managing a busy first-half schedule. They were without Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Sergei Bobrovsky, Artem Anisimov, Ryan Murray and several others for extended periods of time, and ironically, Ryan Johansen (who missed training camp and the preseason due to ongoing contract negotiations) played all 82 games.

The hits kept coming, but the Blue Jackets stuck with it and finished the year on a 15-1-1 clip, missing the postseason by nine points and leaving them with a boat load of "what-ifs."

After another busy offseason that included the addition of Brandon Saad in a blockbuster deal on June 30 and adding a veteran center in Gregory Campbell on July 1, the Blue Jackets feel like they're on the cusp of getting to the next level.

Sportsnet (Canada) is one of the many major media outlets that shares the same sentiment. Luke Fox of says the Blue Jackets are the most likely non-playoff team to get back to the dance in 2015-16:

"No team had to overcome the nearly comical string of injuries that besieged the Blue Jackets' lineup in 2014-15—the year this young squad on the rise hosted the All-Star Game and was supposed to build on their best-ever playoff showing. Even with the setbacks, Columbus finished 2014-15 as one of the NHL's hottest teams, winning 12 of their final 13 contests. And that with with virtually nothing left on the line but pride.

Add Cup champion Brandon Saad, 22, to the Jackets' top nine, and their forward core is sneaky good, and should only be better with another year of experience under their belts. With a legitimate No. 1 goalie in Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes, Columbus should canon its way back into the post-season."

Bonus points for the cannon pun, Luke.

Read Sportsnet's full list of playoff returnees by clicking HERE.

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