It was business as usual for the Jackets this past offseason, prior to the NHL lockout. There were a handful of moves that will come to define the legacy of General Manager Scott Howson, most notably the trade of franchise superstar Rick Nash. Here's a reminder of the offseason roster moves the Jackets pulled off:
2012 NHL Entry Draft
The Jackets were snakebit by the draft lottery again, picking second when they had the best chance of getting the top pick. The Edmonton Oilers ended up with the first choice, taking Nail Yakupov. The Jackets picked next, drafting stud blueliner Ryan Murray. Murray's season was cut short by a shoulder injury but he remains one of the top young defense prospects in the world.
The Jackets also used the draft to restock their goaltending system, using their second and third round picks on netminders Oscar Dansk and Joonas Korpisalo, respectively. In the fourth round, the Jackets drafted winger Josh Anderson from the London Knights. He projects as a two-way forward, and he's developing in a fantastic program in London. The Jackets added Swedish sniper Daniel Zaar in the sixth round, a player who has earned a promotion to Sweden's top league after showing a nose for the net in the junior circuit. In the final round, the Jackets drafted defenseman Gianluca Curcuruto from the Soo Greyhounds, but has since been traded to the Plymouth Whalers.
2012 Free Agency
The Jackets were relatively quiet on the free agent front, but did make a pair of signings that have paid huge dividends for the Springfield Falcons. The lone NHL-level signing by the Jackets was defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who will serve as a mentor for the Jackets' bevy of young defensemen. The deals affecting the Falcons were the signings of Curtis McElhinney and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault. McElhinney has put up a fantastic season thus far, leading the AHL in wins and shutouts. JAM, meanwhile, is second in team scoring, with 30 points in 32 games.
This is where the biggest impact to the Columbus roster took place. The trade of Rick Nash to the Rangers is a huge moment for the franchise, and brought back a handful of assets that will both help the team now, and in the future. Forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov are now Blue Jackets, bringing offense, defensive awareness, and a winning attitude. Top defensive prospect Tim Erixon and the Rangers first round pick were also included in the deal.
A trade with the Flyers was pulled off prior to the draft, with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky coming to Columbus for a second rounder and two fourth round picks. All three picks were previously acquired in other trades. Bobrovsky will compete with Steve Mason for the starting job. Healthy competition will be good for both goaltenders.
A deal with the Senators saw defenseman Marc Methot head to the nation's capital in exchange for winger Nick Foligno. Foligno brings grit, offense and character to the Jackets. I'm very intrigued by this addition, Foligno is a versatile player and it will be interesting to see where he fits in the lineup.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the transaction that could prove to be the most important for the organization. John Davidson, formerly of the St.Louis Blues, was hired as the Jackets' new team President of Hockey Operations. JD brings a wealth of experience, and brings serious credibility to the organization. He'll join Howson and Craig Patrick to form a talented and experienced trio of front office executives.
There were sweeping changes made to the coaching staff as well, with interim coach Todd Richards earning the full-time job, Craig Hartsburg, a former NHL head coach, was added to the staff to be Richards' right hand man. Keith Acton was added as an assistant coach, he most recently spent the better part of ten years as an assistant with the Maple Leafs. Dan Hinote remains as an assistant coach, while Ian Clark is still with the team as goaltending coach. Former Jacket Chris Clark was brought on board as development coach.
One thing is certain-the Jackets team that takes to the ice next week will be drastically different than the one that finished last season. With Rick Nash gone, the team will need to forge a new identity. They have the players in place to be a hard-working, tough-to-play-against squad, with some serious talent on the way, especially on defense.