They might just be the talk of the Eastern Conference – or at least amongst the discussions when it comes to the Metropolitan division.
But wherever they come up, people are impressed with the direction the Columbus Blue Jackets are headed.
The Jackets have only qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs once in their 13-year history, which was in 2009. But after a couple of big moves late last season and heading into the summer, the city of Columbus could be in for some playoff hockey in 2014.
While Blue Jackets players could be hot commodities in NHL fantasy drafts this season.
There’s no question that Sergei Bobrovsky will be one of the most important pieces if the Blue Jackets want to be a playoff team.
Coming off a Vezina-winning season, fans and fantasy owners hope that the 25-year-old netminder can better his stats from a year ago.
Bobrovsky put up 21 wins over 38 games during the shortened season – sporting just over a .930 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average over that span.
With expected backup, Curtis McElhinney, presumably only playing a handful of games, Bobrovsky’s win total should spike in his first full 82-game season as the Jackets’ starting goalie.
Add that to a sturdier back end with Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski hopefully remaining healthy, Bobrovsky could be one of the best starting goalies – stat wise – in the 2014 season.
Young and the Restless
This could be the year – or at least the Blue Jackets hope – that Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen could make an impact in the lineup.
Jenner, 20, and Johansen, 21, have been pushing hard for a starting spot this coming season and could be good young additions for fantasy owners.
But Johansen will have to prove he can play consistently. And on a team that is certainly strong at the centre position, Johansen could find that he’ll be competing with Jenner for a spot on the team’s roster.
Regardless, both should make an impact in the case of an injury and will be a good young player in keeper fantasy leagues this season.
The New and the Old
After adding Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov in a trade for Rick Nash prior to last season, the Blue Jackets reunited old mates with the deadline acquisition of sniper Marian Gaborik.
So can an old unit work in a new place?
Sure it can. And it should turn out quite well. There is no question that Anisimov and Gaborik teamed up for some great offense in while playing in New York. Take out the harsh media of the Big Apple and add less pressure in a place where hockey’s on the back burner and this duo might just impress together once again.
But don’t forget other Blue Jackets forwards.
R.J. Umberger has quietly put up 115 points over the past three seasons. Nick Foligno will look to reach the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. And even though he’s injured for the first quarter of the season, Nathan Horton could be a good bench pick up for any fantasy owner.
Remember, it’s no secret that Columbus is amongst those being talked about as playoff calibre teams. So fantasy owners – don’t wait too long before picking up these newly added household names, because they may not make it into the later rounds of your NHL draft.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.