Yes Blue Jackets fans the 2013-14 season is over but there appears to be a lot of promising days ahead for your franchise. Like the New York Islanders last year the young Blue Jackets really pushed the Penguins in their 1st round series. But now this off-season the question is how do the Jackets get better and have the 2013-14 season be a stepping stone.
When you look at what the Blue Jackets have by most hockey experts accounts they have a star in the making in forward Ryan Johansen. They also have a top net minder in Bobrovsky who is only 25. They also have a good group of solid forwards and defenseman which gives the team a lot of depth and grit.
But to be a top team in the Eastern conference the Blue Jackets need a couple of more players who can help them with their offense. Will the Blue Jackets be players again this free agency? Last year the Jackets signed Nathan Horton to a mega deal (has 6 years left at a cap hit of 5.3 Million). Horton who did not play in the playoffs and due to injury did not make a big contribution this year (36 Games, 5 Goals & 14 Assists). Hopefully for the Jackets that will change next season.Also the Jackets have a number of talented prospects getting very close. According to the Hockey News Future Watch issue the Blue Jackets have 4 prospects in the top 52 in Alexander Wennberg (C,#9), Tim Erixon (D,#44), Oscar Dansk (G,#46) and Kerby Rychel (LW,#52). Can any of these youngsters help the Jackets make a big step next year? Keep an eye on Wennberg who the Blue Jackets are hoping will be a first line player.
Keep in mind whether or not the Blue Jackets are players in this years unrestricted free agency they have a number in-house things to do themselves. Ryan Johansen is a restricted free agent and is going to get a huge pay day and a big raise compared to the $870,000 he made this past season. Also defenseman Nikitin and Schultz are UFA’s so do the Jackets bring them back? With their other defenseman in toe and prospect Tim Erixon maybe ready for the NHL maybe they save those dollars for elsewhere. But something to consider for the Blue Jackets this off-season is Dubinsky, Foligno and Letestu all are on their last years of their deals, and next season become UFA’s. It might be wise for the Blue Jackets management to get that trio locked up this off-season.
The future is bright for Columbus but every season nothing is guaranteed even with the bright promising talent that fills the Blue Jackets roster. New York Islanders fans can give a lesson to the Columbus fans on that regarding their teams past season.
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