After finishing with the second-to-worst record in the Eastern Conference in 2015-16, the Columbus Blue Jackets stunned the hockey world by accumulating 108 points last season.
Unfortunately for Columbus, they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but that doesn’t mean expectations aren’t sky-high for them.
“We’ve come a long way, I’ll say that. When I got to Columbus you knew it was in the room. You knew the core. You knew the values of the team. You knew the leadership and you knew it was there. But last year, we definitely translated it to the ice.”
The Jackets were led by last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky. With Bobrovsky between the pipes, a group of talented defensemen like Jones and Zach Werenski, and forwards like Cam Atkinson, Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky, Brandon Saad and Boone Jenner, Columbus was able to be competitive all year.
This off-season, they sent Saad to Chicago for Artemi Panarin, who is less imposing physically but more dynamic offensively.
Even with the addition of Panarin, the Blue Jackets are aware that they’ll need to bring their best effort forward every night if they want to be in the hunt for the Metropolitan Division.
“We’re not catching any teams off guard this year and we all know that,” Jones said.
“We came a long way from the year before. But it wasn’t good enough. We have to be that much better to be at the top of the league, where we want to be.”