Are The Blue Jackets Ready For The NHL Season?

Kevin FancherContributor INovember 6, 2008

A lot has happened to the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise during the NHL off-season due to trades and injuries.

One of the biggest impacts that had occurred would be the loss of Nikki Zherdev. This is a big loss to the franchise as last season, Zherdev accounted for 26 of the goals out of a total of 197 as a team.

This doesn’t seem like a very big margin, however, it is exactly that. Twenty-six out of 197 translates to Zherdev scoring over 13 percent of the teams’ goals last season.

Something else that may have hurt the Blue Jackets for the upcoming season is the trade of Sergei Federov to Washington. Some may think that this may be a bad thing, however, his replacement seems to be doing quite well this season as of late.

His replacement, Derick Brassard, already has five goals and seven assists in thirteen games meaning that Brassard has had either a goal or an assist in 92 percent of the games they have already played.

Other players on the team are playing up to expectations, including Rick Nash, having scored five times this season with four assists. Manny Malhotra picked a good time to score his first goal of the season as it gave Columbus the win over Edmonton.

The team as of late does seem to be heading on the right track, at 5-6-2; they are sitting in a comfortable fourth position within their division, behind only the Detroit Redwings, Nashville Predators, and the Chicago Blackhawks.

They have had some big wins against teams however; these teams include Dallas, Nashville and Edmonton while losses to teams such as Anaheim may upset the team, they still focus on the next game in line. The season has only just begun; therefore it is still anyone’s guess.

Due to recent events, Pascal Leclaire, drafted by the Blue Jackets in 2001 as an eighth round pick, is currently not active because of an ankle injury that occurred at a home game versus the New York Rangers. The Blue Jackets placed Leclaire on the injured list as of October 29th and his status remains day-to-day.

There is one thing for certain; the Columbus Blue Jackets look forward to getting Leclaire back in action as with there back up goalie, Norrena, the Blue Jackets have gone 1-5 as compared to Leclaire with a record of 3-3.  Leclaire is expected to practice here within the next week to try out his ankle and the team is hoping the practice goes well.

Someone to keep an eye on this season would definitely have to be the Blue Jackets third goalie, Steve Mason, who had 22 saves during a 5-4 win over Edmonton. Mason, drafted back in 2006 in the third round may turn out to be a good pick by the blue jackets if the ankle injury holds up longer than expected for Leclaire.

It seems to be turning into an interesting season and the first month of play is barely over. It is still anyone’s guess as to who is going to play in the Stanley Cup this year, but one thing is for certain. One must keep an eye on how much Columbus will play Mason due to his performance against Edmonton, who was somewhat of a complicated team last season.