Columbus Blue Jackets: Defensive Depth


I was piecing together the story in my head, how the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to facilitate a trade involving R.J. Umberger this weekend at the annual NHL Draft. Were they going to package it with a draft pick, possibly the 1st rounder to bring in another high level scorer? Then I get an alert on my phone saying the Blue Jackets had traded Umberger and a 4th round pick in 2015 for the Philadelphia Flyers Scott Hartnell! That was the end of that story, however I was not upset, the Blue Jackets got better while giving fan favorite Umberger a good home in the process.

Apr 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray (27) carries the puck into the offensive zone against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period in game five of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After that my mind quickly changed gears to the next item on the offseason agenda, keeping the defense(minus Nikita Nikitin) in tact or should the Columbus Blue Jackets look to add more depth on the blue line. They found out last year how important it is to have depth on the blue line when multiple injuries towards the end of the year hamstrung the team. The defense currently sits with a Top 8 of Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, Ryan Murray, Dalton Prout, David Savard, Fedor Tyutin, Tim Erixon, and Cody Goloubef.

The question to ask yourselves is, would you be happy going into the 2014-15 regular season with that as your Top 8 defensemen for the Columbus Blue Jackets? Should they go out and try to get a UFA to add some more depth, maybe a Matt Niskanen like I have said before? Or did he make himself too expensive this last season and in the playoffs? They could try to resign Nick Schultz who they acquired last season from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline. Or they could look to go a little older with UFA Dan Boyle, add a little veteran leadership to the locker room, while still adding skill and scoring to the blue line?

I wouldn’t be upset heading into the 2014 opener with a Top 6 of Johnson, Wisniewski, Murray, Tyutin, Prout, and Savard. Then having quality depth in Springfield with Erixon and Goloubef ready to make the jump up when needed due to injuries or poor play. I can not see Jarmo or JD overpaying for Niskanen or Boyle, nor would I want to overpay for either one of those players. I would rather resign Schultz at a fraction of what his previous contract paid him and make him our 7th defenseman.

With the NHL Draft just a few days away, then the rush of free agency to follow there is one thing I know, the Blue Jackets have a lot of options in front of them and the right men driving the ship. They might be done wheeling and dealing and ready for the dog days of summer to kick in, but one thing we know is they never stop trying to make this team better. As a fan that has been through regimes that could be classified as polar opposites, I am ready for anything that Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson have in store for us.