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.
Video: Devils honor Martin Brodeur, retire his No. 30
Kyle Turris was far from an accomplished NHLer when he requested a trade out of the Coyotes organization. In fact, when he was dealt to the Senators in 2011, the third overall pick in the 2007 draft had just 46 points in 137 NHL games.
Since then, Turris has emerged as Ottawa’s top center, with the promise of a big payday in the summer of 2018 when his current $17.5 million deal expires and he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
It’s for that very reason that he can understand Jonathan Drouin‘s position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“It’s tough,” Turris told the Tampa Bay Times. “Everyone has mixed feelings, and especially not being an established player. Then people are doubting that you’re doing the right thing, you really have to have confidence in yourself and your ability to do it.”
Though Turris, now 26, took a “lot of heat from the media…and people within the organization” and recalls the time after his trade request was made public as a “tough, tough go,” he believes the opportunity he received with the Sens “saved” him.
As we’ve written in the past, you don’t have to agree with how Drouin is handling things — maybe it ends up hurting him; he still has a lot to prove — but there have been young players who have chosen similar paths, and it’s worked out well for them.
Drouin, by the way, has 40 points in 89 NHL games.