In today's look back at the Blue Jackets awful season, I'm going to look at three things: player grades, good and bad transactions, and the Highlight of the Year.
Follow along on this journey. I'll try not to make it too painful.
Player grades. Instead of going one by one, I'll lump them together, calling out the ones I see fit.
A - Really?
B - Vinny Prospal, Ryan Johansen, John Moore, Nikita Nikitin, Curtis Sanford, Mark Letestu, Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard, Jack Johnson, and Cam Atkinson.
This felt like a lot of players to list, saying they played above average on a team that finished 30th. But the fact of the matter is, each of these guys had solid years and on a good team would have been praised. It's encouraging to see so many young names on the list, because that's the future. On a terrible team, when your young players are your best players, there's at least some cause for hope. All of these players should look to have a bright future in Columbus, including the mentorship roles of Prospal and Sanford.
C - Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin, Marc Methot, Colton Gillies, Derek MacKenzie, David Savard, Darryl Boyce, Jared Boll, Allen York.
This is why the season sucked. All of your big names had average years at best. I cut Wiz a break considering his injuries and the promise he showed when healthy (and not suspended). Derek MacKenzie is a good 4th line center but he's just that, a 4th liner. It makes me nervous to slowly see him elevated to Manny Malhotra status. David Savard and Allen York played above their heads, and did pretty well, but they need to be in the AHL getting real development. This team will never compete with Detroit or Vancouver until they respect the developmental system.
C is Not for Captain. Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger, while hitting somewhat respectable point plateaus at the end of the year, just didn't matter when it counted.
D - Steve Mason, Aaron Johnson, Brett Lebda.
These guys shouldn't be playing regularly in the NHL. Make of that what you will.
F / Incomplete - Jeff Carter, Radek Martinek, Kristian Huselius.
The F is mostly for Carter. Martinek and Huselius just didn't have a chance.
Good Transactions / Bad Transactions
Good: Acquiring Mark Letestu, Nikita Nikitin, and Jack Johnson.
These might prove to be some of the best moves Scott Howson has ever made. Great, solid players that should be fixtures on this team if they get the right pieces put around them.
Bad: Darryl Boyce, Colton Gillies.
These aren't bad in the Jeff Carter sense. But I wanted to stay away from moves made last off-season. Neither of these players were terrible and they filled a role when needed. I'm calling these bad transactions because this is the kind of depth the team should have had in the first place, not scrambling after the fact. Waiver pick-ups are part of the game, but when they're brought in and expected to play a big role on the team, something is off.
Highlight of the Year
Like always, the Jackets leave us with just enough hope for the next season. This year it comes largely in the form of Cam Atkinson. It's disappointing that I won't get to see my Rookie of the Year prediction come true, because in the right situation, he would've been among the top of the list.
I present to you: Camsanity. The Cam Atkinson Hat Trick.