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Jackets' Top Ten Storylines of 2013

2013 was a big year for the Jackets. They made two huge player acquisitions, hired a new GM, and made the move to the Eastern Conference. These are among the ten biggest CBJ stories from 2013.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

As the Jackets prepare for their first game of 2014 tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes, it's a good time to look back at the past calendar year for the Jackets.

As of this writing the Jackets are midway through the 2013/2014 season, sitting with a record of 17-19-4, good for 7th in the Metropolitan Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Without further ado:

January 2013: The ugly lockout is over, and the Jackets embark on a shortened 48-game season.

February 2013: Columbus fires GM Scott Howson, replacing him with Jarmo Kekalainen. Kekalainen became the first European-born GM in NHL history.

February 2013: Our thoughts on a realignment scenario reported in the media, which turned out to be 100% accurate.The Jackets moved to the Eastern Conference.

April 2013: The Jackets made a huge splash at the Trade Deadline, acquiring Marian Gaborik from the Rangers. Gaborik has had difficulty staying healthy, but nonetheless it was a huge move for the franchise, landing an elite sniper.

April 2013: The Jackets come agonizingly close to making the playoffs. They did everything in their own power to make the postseason, but they were pushed just outside due to a tiebreaker with Minnesota that ruled in the Wild's favor.

June 2013: Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender. He was the primary reason for the Jackets' incredible run to end the season.

June 2013: Armed with three first round picks, the Jackets restock their prospect pool at the Entry Draft. In addition to three first round studs, the Jackets may have struck gold with third rounder Oliver Bjorkstrand. Bjorkstrand was recently signed to his entry-level deal after leading Denmark in the U-20 Division 1 World Juniors. Denmark moves to the big pool next season.

July 2013: After some tense negotiations (that included threats of returning to Russia) Bobrovsky was re-signed to a two-year deal.The term is perfect for the Jackets, and gave them some flexibility if his Vezina season was a mirage. He's yet to play at an elite level this season, but he still has a half-season to regain his form.

July 2013: The Jackets signed arguably the top available forward in free agency in Nathan Horton. It was known at the time that Horton would miss the first half of the season, and it seems as though he will make his long-awaited debut tonight in Phoenix. Columbus fans have been salivating at the thought of a Johansen-Horton combo.

Fall 2013: Speaking of Johansen, the Jackets are struggling to make the postseason, but Johansen is breaking out in a big, big way.