Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport
Secondary scoring will need to be better this season if the Blue Jackets want to go anywhere.
The defense is solid and has the depth to carry the team. Sergei Bobrovsky will still be a good netminder if he even comes close to the numbers he put up last season, and Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton should provide excellent offensive numbers if and when they are both healthy.
When teams manage to take away those players, the Blue Jackets will need an answer.
Columbus finished 25th in goals scored per game, and also let their leading scorer, Vinny Prospal, walk in free agency. Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are poised to take on increased roles, but Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson will need to be the ones to step up to the plate and provide solid support from the second and third lines if the offense is going to be better.
After an excellent preseason, this should be the year that the 21-year-old Johansen and 23-year-old Atkinson breakout and establish themselves as formidable players in the top-nine of a playoff-caliber team.
Atkinson scored nine goals and nine assists in 35 games in the shortened season, which put him on pace for 21 goals and 21 assists over the course of 82 games.
Johansen's numbers weren't nearly as impressive, but his performance throughout training camp suggests he's ready to put up career numbers in 2013-14.
The two played well together, particularly in a 3-1 win against the Wild in which they connected on two goals. Columbus should expect plenty of this in 2013-14.