Columbus’ Umberger: “We have a lot of second-line players”

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Over at the Columbus Dispatch, Aaron Portzline has analyzed the Blue Jackets forward group in the wake of the Rick Nash trade.

The good? Columbus has more depth up front than ever before.

The bad? Columbus only has three players that have scored 20 or more goals in a single season…

…and the NHL average is seven.

It’s something Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger referenced in speaking with Portzline.

“We have a lot of second-line players,” Umberger said. “It’s definitely going to be a new-look team. It’s a group that will have to work really hard and earn everything we get. All the players are guys who feel like they really need to prove something.”

Umberger is one of the three that’s scored 20 in a single season — he’s done it five times. The others are Brandon Dubinsky (twice) and Vinny Prospal (five). It’s not exactly an ideal setup for a Blue Jackets team that only averaged 2.42 goals per game last season (26th overall), but those issues should be offset by the fact Columbus has more forward depth than ever before.

Just ask head coach Todd Richards.

“I think it’s interchangeable parts,” Richards said of all his new potential line combinations. “That’s how I’m approaching it. It gives me great flexibility on the bench. If I want to switch and change to something else, a different look for a different situation in the game, I’ll be able to do that pretty easily.”

For what it’s worth, Portzline reports Richards liked the Prospal-Mark Letestu-Cam Atkinson line that often played together last year and that Umberger, Dubinsky, Derick Brassard, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno “will figure into the mix in the top six.”