Summer Skate: Blue Jackets
Horton's resurgence would greatly aid Columbus' road back to postseason
Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the league-wide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
A strong second half of the season landed the Columbus Blue Jackets in the playoffs for only the second time in the club's history, and the first time since 2008-09. Columbus earned some respect by taking the Pittsburgh Penguins to six games in the first round. Its deep group of two-way forwards made life difficult on Pittsburgh's stars, including Sidney Crosby, who was smothered by the Jackets' top center, Brandon Dubinsky.
Assuming restricted free agent Ryan Johansen and the team come to a contract agreement, the Blue Jackets will have a long-term offensive anchor with a quality crop of forwards, most of whom are in their prime. The Jackets are among the league's best in goal with Sergei Bobrovsky, but their blue line is still a question mark.
Making the playoffs was a good step, but to be relevant, Columbus has to do more than just put on a nice showing in the first round.
Trending up: Nathan Horton, F
To read more about the Columbus Blue Jackets' offseason, and for access to the rest of our NHL content, become an ESPN Insider today.