Columbus Blue Jackets: With James Wisniewski Out, Is It Time to Blow Up the Team

Patrick DrottarCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2012

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 29:  James Wisniewski #21 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is helped off the ice by Jeff Carter #7 and Ryan Johansen #19 at American Airlines Center on December 29, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Before the end of 2011, defenseman James Wisniewski, one of the Columbus Blue Jackets biggest offseason acquisitions, suffered a fractured ankle after blocking a slap shot.

The Michigan native was placed on injured reserve for at least six weeks, and did no favors to an already injury-ridden team.

Wisniewski joined other Jackets Jeff Carter, RJ Umberger and Mark Letestu on the sidelines due to injuries.

Because of this, the Jackets have been forced to make several calls to their AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons for some of the team's top prospects.

Prospects Cam Atkinson, David Savard, John Moore, Tomas Kubalik, as well as Ryan Johansen have all spent time in Columbus while the team attempts to heal its top players.

With top talent in and out of the lineup throughout the season, Columbus has struggled and has found a permanent residence at the bottom of the NHL standings.

The injuries as well as the injection of youth into the Jackets lineup have caused several rumors to emerge as to whether or not the team would blow up their lineup with major roster changes.

Players like Jeff Carter, Derick Brassard and captain Rick Nash have been mentioned as trade targets since what seems like the beginning of the season.

At the beginning of 2012, the Jackets front office promised changes as the season continued. They started those changes with the firing of Coach Scott Arniel.

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 13:  Jeff Carter #7 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena on December 13, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Canucks 2-1.  (Photo by Joh
John Grieshop/Getty Images

Heading into the teams' owners' meetings this weekend, it was unsure whether or not General Manager Scott Howson or club President Mike President would suffer the same fate or not.

However, the Columbus Dispatch reported that both seem to be safe for now.

The other news from the owners' meeting is that the team will not in fact blow up the team roster, but will make changes before the beginning of the 2012-2013 season.

It would seem that Nash and Brassard are safe, while Carter cannot feel the same comfort.
His time in Columbus could come to end before it really ever began.

According to the Dispatch, it would not be surprising if the 27-year-old is traded before the February deadline:

"Carter and Nash have never shown signs of enhancing each other’s games, and although Carter has said all the right things about wanting to make it work in Columbus, his body language on the ice has been something different."

Carter has undoubtedly been the most talked about Blue Jacket in the rumor mills. He has caused several teams to call to inquire about him.

Other players whose names could soon emerge in trade rumors are Samuel Pahlsson, Vinny Prospal, and Kristian Huselius, all set to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

Antoine Vermette is another player who could be available as he can play a variety of positions and can contribute to a cup contender.

The player who will be the hardest one to trade for the Blue Jackets will be goaltender Steve Mason, whose time as the team's franchise goaltender has finally come to an end.

Many believed that the relationship between the youngster and the Jackets would have ended at the end of last season—after back-to-back unimpressive seasons.

However, Mason received another chance and has not taken advantage of it. That will most likely lead to him being traded or placed on waivers.

Regardless of whose time in Columbus is soon coming to an end, the Jackets have no plans of tearing down their franchise and rebuilding from scratch in the near future.

If things are not turned around quickly; however, we could see those plans begin to heat up once again.