The Columbus Blue Jackets almost made all the haters’ jaws drop last season when they just missed the playoffs due to the Minnesota Wild winning their last game. They were a rebuilt team without captain Rick Nash and being backed by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. During the offseason, Columbus signed Nathan Horton, and he is the first one on my list for Columbus’ three rising stars.
Nathan Horton came over from a Stanley Cup runner-up Bruins team, and signed with Columbus. In his 43 games last season, he scored 22 points. In the playoffs, he scored 19 points in just 22 games. He lit up the playoffs, along with other stars David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Horton is the type of player who can really score some points, and being able to show off his talent in Columbus, I think he can lead this team into the playoffs.
Artem Anisimov has been one of my favorite players since he started a battle while playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning (while on the New York Rangers). After scoring a goal, he skated away from the goaltender, turned around, got on one knee, and pretended to shoot his stick like a gun at the goalie. This lit a spark with then team captain Vincent Lecavalier, which started a little brawl. Last season in Columbus, he recorded just 18 points in 35 games. He can be a player who produces 30 or even 40 point seasons, and this offseason, if he has been practicing right, could be what builds him up to be a great forward.
Marian Gaborik was a recent grab for the Blue Jackets. Last season, while with the Rangers, he recorded 19 points in 35 games. Once he hit Columbus, he scored 8 points in 12 games. This player is one with great skill, and he can produce massive numbers. Just look at his career totals. In 769 NHL games, he has recorded 674 points, not including his 35 points in 54 playoff games. He has the talent to take this team and help them into the playoffs.
These three players, in my opinion, can help this team get into the playoffs, and maybe make it past the first round. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing this team in the Stanley Cup Finals, but I doubt that is going to happen within the next few years. Let me know who you think would/should step up next season for the Blue Jackets. Tweet me @NardoneDylan and the site @TMMotS. You can email us at [email protected]