Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Columbus Blue Jackets finished the 2011-12 campaign with the worst record in the NHL. It was the latest failure for a franchise that hasn’t won a single playoff game since its start in 2000.
It had gotten so bad that the face of the franchise, Rick Nash, wanted out and they eventually accommodated his request. So naturally expectations weren’t high for the Blue Jackets in 2013 minus their superstar. At first, they didn’t surprise, going 5-12-4 to start the season. And then Sergei Bobrovsky stepped up.
Bobrovsky was stunning in the final two months of the season and ended up with a 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage in 38 games en route to winning the Vezina Trophy. Unfortunately for the Blue Jackets, his efforts proved to be too late as they missed the playoffs by a hair.
So another season ended early in Columbus, but they earned something that they didn’t possess roughly 13 months ago when they shipped Nash to the New York Rangers: Hope.
Naturally, the Blue Jackets biggest task this offseason was re-signing Bobrovsky. He was a restricted free agent, so the chances of another team managing to lure him away with an offer sheet weren’t significant, but there was a concern that he would end up bolting to the KHL. Despite that possibility, Columbus managed to get him to agree to a bridge contract worth $11.25 million over two years rather than a long-term deal.
Columbus also splurged on the free agent market, signing forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year, $37 million contract.
Vinny Prospal, 38, led the Blue Jackets with 30 points last season, but he is still an unrestricted free agent. Back in July, GM Jarmo Kekalainen wasn’t sure if he would offer Prospal a new contract.
The Blue Jackets also had three first-round picks going into the 2013 NHL Entry Draft due to the Nash and Jeff Carter trades. They spent them on forwards Alexander Wennberg, Kerby Rychel, and Marko Dano.