Despite picking up 108 points during the regular calendar and clinching a playoff spot, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen made some major changes during the summer.
The Jackets pulled off a blockbuster deal with Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman to land sniper Artemi Panarin, forward Tyler Motte and a draft pick in exchange for Brandon Saad, goalie Anton Forsberg and a draft pick next year. They also bought out Scott Hartnell.
Panarin is expected to add another dynamic to the Jackets’ offense. He will also benefit from playing with Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson and Alexander Wennberg.
On the blue line, the Jackets can count on Seth Jones, David Savard and Jack Johnson. Hoping the young Zach Werenski won’t experience a sophomore slump, the Jackets will have a solid top-4.
Netminder Sergei Bobrovsky will look to win his second consecutive Vezina Trophy and lead his team to better things in the spring.
There were other few minor signings, and the unsuccessful pursuit of Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. The Blue Jackets signed college free agent defenseman Doyle Somerby, who could add blue line depth. Jordan Schroeder, acquired from the Minnesota Wild, could eventually replace Sam Gagner, who signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
Overall, the Jackets look ready for the season… if Panarin can create a solid chemistry with his new teammates.