The NHL regular season is just around the corner. In anticipation, Eyes on Isles takes a look at every team in our division. What have they done to their roster, have they improved, and how will the New York Islanders fair against them?
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Knowing what your enemies are doing is invaluable when trying to assess the lay of the land. For the New York Islanders, that’s keeping tabs on the other seven teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Over the next few days, we’ll cover each of our Metropolitan division rivals one-by-one. Today we start with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus Blue Jackets Roster Moves (To-Date):
The Blue Jackets were a terrible team last season. Much was expected from them to start the season but we all know how a .818 save percentage in the first five starts from former Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky got their coach fired and eventually sunk any hopes of the Jackets making the post-season for a second straight season.
There’s quality in this team, it just never really showed itself last season. And the Isles took full advantage of the fact. We faced the Blue Jackets five times last season, winning all five by a margin of 19-9.
This season isn’t shaping up to be much different for the Blue Jackets. The roster is virtually the same. The Jackets added Sam Gagner to an incredibly cap friendly single year $625 thousand deal, hoping that the former Flyer find his groove. They also locked up their third overall pick from this year’s draft.
Pierre-Luc Dubois came into the draft as a winger with little experience at center, but Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen believes the young Québec native’s future is down the middle. Expect this kid to slot in at center to start the season and stay with the Jackets for the remainder of the season.
2016-17 Blue Jackets Outlook
It’s hard to imagine the Blue Jackets being much better than they were last season. The roster isn’t much different, the coaching hasn’t changed. The team’s identity hasn’t changed.
Maybe Nick Foligno will get back to his ridiculous 17.1% shooting percentage from 2014-15 and score another 73 points. Or, and this is what’s more likely, he stays at his average 10% and gets about 40 points.
Are the Jackets a threat to the Islanders in the regular season? Not likely. Will they be tough to play against? Of course, they will. But the Blue Jackets won’t be challenging for one of those automatic playoff spots that we’re aiming for.
If everything goes well and Tortorella’s boys find a lucky horseshoe or a four-leaf clover they might fight for a wildcard spot. But that’s really the best case scenario for them.