McGreevy: outlining Blue Jackets successes and disappointments

There’s no doubt the Columbus Blue Jackets organization (and fans) are looking ahead to a busy offseason frenzy, complete with some major roster moves and potential coaching changes beginning at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

While Columbus had yet another disappointing season in 2011-12, many players on the team still managed to thrive and stick to their games, while others had a more difficult time. The following is a list of Blue Jackets players who will either have a hand in the rebuilding process, or could be moved over the summer. These players are recognized for their accomplishments, or lack thereof.

MVP: Vinny Prospal – Perhaps the best news out of the Blue Jackets’ organization this year came in early February when it was announced that Prospal signed a one-year contract extension with Columbus. With 55 points in 82 games this season, Prospal has been the team’s most reliable and least distracting player. He is one of two players on the squad to have played in every game this season. Along with recording the second-highest point total on the team to Rick Nash, Prospal has also led the team in the locker room as evidenced by the assistant captain’s “A” he wears on his sweater. He finished the season with 16 goals and 39 assists.

Alex Semin of the Washington Capitals applies pressure on the backcheck to Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets. (clydeorama/Flickr)

Most Improved: Derek Dorsett – When the season comes to the end, Dorsett will have finally finished his application to become the league’s most hated player. As usual, the winger’s constant intensity has not only caught the ire of his opponents, but it has also created a spark for the Blue Jackets. However, what makes this year different from past years is his ability to score goals and make plays. He is in the midst of a career-best season with 20 points (12 goals, eight assists). Dorsett’s role on the team will be safe even if his role in the league is diminished.

Best Forward: Rick Nash – Although his numbers have dropped off from past years, the five-time All Star still leads the Blue Jackets with 30 goals and 59 points. He is undoubtedly the most skilled player in the union blue, however, now that the season is over, Nash may not get another chance to sound the cannon in Columbus. His reign as the team’s top forward will likely coming to a close by the time of the NHL draft in June. Nonetheless, despite the controversy this season, Nash was still the team’s undisputed go-to scorer and managed to notch his fifth consecutive 30-plus goal season (seventh in his career).

Best Defenseman: Nikita Nikitin – Acquired from the St. Louis Blues for Kris Russell early in the season, Nikitin is the Blue Jackets’ best-kept secret. Through 54 games with Columbus, the blue liner finished the season with 32 points, placing him fifth in team scoring. Nikitin’s slap shot from the point has been a huge asset to the Blue Jackets’ power play. In front of his own net, Nikitin has shown a willingness to sacrifice the body as he has a team-leading 93-blocked shots. Expect him to be a mainstay on the blue line through Columbus’ rebuild.

Biggest Disappointment: Steve Mason – Before the start of the season, Blue Jackets fans knew that the fate of their season relied on the man between the pipes. Well, the goalie’s sophomore slump has officially lasted three years. With a 0.894 save percentage and 3.39 goals against average in 46 games this season, it is clear that Mason will not be returning to his original form. If he does, it is likely to be with another team. He did finish with two assists, though.

– Matthew McGreevy, Contributing Writer

@mcmatthew4

 

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