When next season starts (whenever that may be) it’ll be the first time since 2002-03 the Blue Jackets will do so without Rick Nash.
With Nash now in New York with the Rangers after a long-awaited trade, it’ll be up to Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and Tim Erixon to help Jackets fans forget about their former superstar.
Can they do it successfully though? All isn’t quite as bleak as you’d think.
Columbus’ other top scorers last season were veterans Vinny Prospal, who had just five fewer points than Nash, Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger. The latter two had just 41 and 40 points respectively but when you throw Dubinsky and Anisimov into the mix, their 36 and 34 points can at least, in theory, help make up for Nash’s departure.
When you add them to an interesting mix of players that includes former Senator Nick Foligno as well as potential future star Ryan Johansen and spark plug winger Cam Atkinson, there’s some hope there.
Atkinson was a big scorer at Boston College and did well in the AHL last season, meanwhile Johansen was coddled last season and could breakout if given the minutes to show what he’s got. Keeping him buried on the fourth or in the press box line doesn’t do him any favors.
These aren’t superstar players nor do they have the marquee credibility, but if coach Todd Richards can get them playing together as a team, there’s opportunity for growth. After all, it’s not as if the Central Division got better this offseason.