2013 NHL Predictions: Expectations for a Nash-Less Columbus Blue Jackets

Shane DarrowAnalyst IIAugust 10, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 19:  Steve Mason #1 of the Columbus Blue Jackets takes the ice for the game against the Nashville Predators at Nationwide Arena on January 19, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
John Grieshop/Getty Images

One of the biggest stories of the NHL off-season has been the trade between the New York Rangers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets received forwards Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov, defenseman Tim Erixon, a first-round draft pick in 2013, minor league defenseman Steve Delisle, and a conditional third-round pick all in exchange for Rick Nash.

Thus far, many hockey fans have focused on the expectations of the New York Rangers now that they just added one of the most talented wingers in the game to their roster.

Rick Nash without a doubt makes the Rangers the Stanley Cup favorite on paper, but nobody has taken the time to look at this trade from the other side. What does this trade mean for Columbus, and what are their expectations for the upcoming season?

If you look at the entire history of the Blue Jackets ever since they came into the NHL in 2000 as an expansion team, you won't find many success stories. They made the playoffs for the first and only time in 2009, where they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

If you look at their short term history, it isn't any more impressive. They have finished dead last in the Central Division three years in a row, and are coming off of a 29-46-7 season. Their 65 points last season were the fewest since they went 25-45-8-4 in 2003-04.

So what are fair expectations for the Blue Jackets in 2013?

The only true thing that Columbus needs to prove in order for Blue Jackets fans to be excited about the future is promise. Promise that Dubinsky and Anisimov accept the fact that they are out of the Stanley Cup picture and take on the challenge at hand.

They both need to step up and be leaders and set their goal to be what Rick Nash couldn't do, take the Blue Jackets to the playoffs and win a game. They should both take offense that they were a part of a package deal to acquire Nash, and take that motive onto the ice every time they lace up the skates.

Steve Mason needs to show some promise that he can become the goaltender many thought he would already be after winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 2009.

In camp, Curtis Sanford will compete for the starting job, but Mason needs to take charge and have a great off-season in order for the Blue Jackets to have any hope of being successful.

Mason has shown that he can be a solid goaltender. In his Calder Trophy winning season, he went 33-20-7 with a .916 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average.

Since then however, Mason has a record of 60-73-19 in three seasons and has had a goals against average of over 3.0 in each of the last three years.

Another guy that really needs to step up is Jack Johnson, who had to have had the roughest post-season of anyone else in the NHL. While he was on the golf course, the Los Angeles Kings, who traded him to Columbus for Jeff Carter at last year's trade deadline, were hoisting the Stanley Cup.

He is the most talented guy left on that roster, and he needs to use that power to be the vocal leader in the locker room, as well as on the ice.

So, what can you expect out of the Blue Jackets?

The best way to put it is this, if someone in the NHL finishes with a worst record than the Columbus Blue Jackets, that is a successful season.

Sorry Jackets fans, but your time will come, you just have to be patient.