Columbus had quite a bit of bad luck last season with injuries, and having the most man games lost in the NHL at 502 games. This is a playoff team, but when you lose as many players as they did to injury, including the elite starting goaltender and a couple of the highest producing players, you are not making the playoffs. I like their chances this season as long as they stay healthy.
They made good improvements this offseason. The biggest one was being able to capitalize on the Blackhawks salary cap issues, acquiring Brandon Saad from Artem Anisimov. This is an improvement, especially from last season. With Anisimov injured a lot of the year, he gave the Jackets only 7 goals last season. Saad, as long as he doesn’t injure himself, will give them 15-20 more goals than Columbus had last season. He’ll strive alongside Ryan Johansen.
Another good acquisition was signing Gregory Campbell to add depth. He’ll add maybe 10 goals over the course of the season to the bottom six.
Now let’s assume Brandon Dubinsky plays about a full season opposed to 47 games. That will add another 10 goals. Then add Bobrovski, who was injured much of the season. That brings them better goaltending than they had last season. Then you have even more added production if Mark Latest and Boone Jenner play more games this year.
As long as the Blue Jackets stay reasonably healthy, they will make the postseason. I expect a wild card position.