Part 2 in my "State of the Franchise" series.
Feel free to leave comments; I'm always willing to take feedback and I readily accept that I'm not the next Charles Dickens, so any constructive criticism would be great.
Current Rankings List:
30. San Jose
#29: Columbus Blue Jackets
Top Fws: Rick Nash*, RJ Umberger, Derick Brassard
Top Ds: Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski
Top G: Steve Mason
Top 3 Under-23s:
1. C Ryan Johansen (19)
2. D John Moore (21)
3. W Cam Atkinson (23)
Top 5 Prospects
1. D Ryan Murray (18)
2. D Tim Erixon (21)
3. D David Savard (21)
4. F Boone Jenner (19)
5. F TJ Tynan (20)
Prospect Pool Rating:
Bluechip Talent: C
The Blue Jackets have amassed a strong group of defensemen at the NHL level. Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski are at the center of a group that includes former prospect John Moore, veteran Fedor Tyutin, and Nikita Nikitin. Also, newly signed Adrian Aucoin looks to battle it out with top prospects Ryan Murray and David Savard for the 6th and 7th spots on the D. Not only is their NHL team filled on defense, they have plenty of depth behind them with Cody Goloubef and Will Weber among the many pro defensemen at their disposal.
With Rick Nash looking like he’ll depart, the BJs are left without a gamebreaking scorer. While Derick Brassard, Vinny Prospal and RJ Umberger are good players, none of them are the kind of talent that Nash is. The biggest gap however is in net; Mason has been ineffective since a stellar rookie season, Bobrovsky was unable to carve out a spot in Philadelphia and their goalie prospects still look to be a few years away.
They have talent and depth on defense which should have them set for the next few years. Prospects run the gamut from AHL scoring machines and solid two-way players to shutdown defenders and players with natural skating ability. Up front, guys like Tomas Kubalik and Matt Calvert are going to compete for NHL spots in training camp. Oscar Dansk looks to be their best goalie prospect in a long time, though he appears to need some seasoning before he will compete for an NHL role.
Up front, they lack a major talent who will be able to score at a high level for years to come. While TJ Tynan and Matt Calvert look like they can be top 6 players, neither is going to be a franchise forward for the Jackets, which is an area they will sorely lack after their captain’s inevitable departure. At the AHL level, Allen York is merely serviceable. They also don’t have a lot of depth after York and Dansk.
The Blue Jackets have been one of the worst teams almost since its inception. You could argue they've never really had any luck; even the Rick Nash selection was a case of them giving up assets to move up in the draft order. Every year they seem to be among the first few teams selecting, yet somehow they've been unable to score in the draft at all. Only four of their first round draft picks remain with their team, and one of them was just drafted this year.
But all hope is not lost in Ohio. The Jackets have begun the difficult process of tearing it all down and starting again, and this time they have a few pieces with which to work: one is the return that Rick Nash will bring, which would likely be rich in prospects and/or picks. The second is the fact that they've got some talent already on their roster. Their defense looks very solid in comparison to other bottom-feeders, and names like Ryan Johansen are already at the forefront of their rebuilding process.
While they won't make the playoffs next year, there is some optimism that the Jackets can turn it around. But it'll take a few lean years to rebuild their prospect pool and NHL squad.