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Columbus Blue Jackets
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule
On this page: Comings | Goings | Prospect Watch | Get the Highlighter | Quoteworthy

With any new franchise there are bound to be questions. Columbus is no exception. For starters, can the Blue Jackets survive in Buckeyeland? Early returns say "yes." The club met the NHL requirement of 12,000 season tickets sold by March 31, and it's now approaching 13,000 for the home opener in October.

Next up: How competitive can this team be under coach Dave King? Team president Doug McLean concentrated on acquiring smallish but speedy forwards, sizable defenseman and capable goaltenders. The strength of the team without a doubt will be goaltending, most notably in Marc Denis and Ron Tugnutt. But there are major question marks at every other position.

Finally: How soon can the Blue Jackets be respectable? That depends on how younger players, such as top prospect Rostislav Klesla, develop. McLean, who learned under Florida GM Bryan Murray, realizes how vital it is to stockpile decent talent for the future.

For more on the Blue Jackets, bookmark this page and check back Wednesday, Oct. 11 for a Sports Illustrated Scouting Report.

BRIGHT SPOTS   GRAY AREAS
  • No pressure to succeed right away is the tonic this team needs, since it will give draftees time to get better.
  • A glut of prospects, including fourth pick G Greg Gardner, who was stellar at Niagara University last season with a 1.53 GAA and .936 save percentage.
  • Welcome back to the NHL, Ohio. The memory of Gilles Meloche and the Cleveland Barons lives on. May better days be ahead for the Blue Jackets.
  • They may not be familiar now, but remember the names of Jan Caloun, Espen Knutsen, Martin Spanhel and David Vyborny. They're talented players who could make an impact.
  •  
  • Growing pains. The Blue Jackets may have to grin and bear it for the next two years until young players are ready for the NHL.
  • Where is the scoring going to come from? Creaky RW Kevin Dineen, brought in to provide leadership, can't even dream of 40 goals anymore, let alone 10. Forwards Robert Kron and Geoff Sanderson are the most potent threats; each scored 13 goals last season.
  • Seventeen back-to-back games can't help.
  • History doesn't bode well for expansion teams. In the last two years, Nashville (63 points) and Atlanta (39) have employed weak talent. Columbus can probably expect nothing more than 40-45 points.
  • Comings
    Player  Pos.  From  Via 
    Serge Aubin  Colorado  Free agent 
    Matt Davidson  RW  Columbus  Re-signed 
    Marc Denis  Colorado  Trade/Re-Signed 
    Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre  Columbus  Re-signed 
    Steve Heinze  LW  Columbus  Re-signed 
    Sergei Kilmentiev  AK Bars-Kazan (Russia)  Free agent 
    Kent McDonell  RW  Detroit  Trade 
    Krzysztof Oliwa  RW  New Jersey  Trade/Re-signed 
    Geoff Sanderson  LW  Columbus  Re-signed 
    Ron Tugnutt  Pittsburgh  Free agent 
    Tyler Wright  Pittsburgh  Expansion 
     

    Goings
    Player  Pos.  To  Via 
    Dallas Drake  RW  St. Louis  Free agent 
    Lyle Odelein  Phoenix  Free agent 
    Dwayne Roloson  St. Louis  Free agent 
    Mathieu Schneider  Los Angeles  Free agent 
    Turner Stevenson  RW  Columbus  Trade 
    Rick Tabaracci  Dallas  Free agent 
     
    Prospect Watch
    Rostislav Klesla, D, 6'2", 198
    Born: March 21, 1982 in Novy Jicin, Czech Republic
    Acquired: 2000 draft, first round (No. 4 overall)

    Named to the Ontario Hockey League's All-Rookie Team, Klesla was considered the best defenseman of the draft. He is projected as a No. 1 or 2 defenseman in the NHL. He was named Best Body Checker in the Western Conference in the 2000 OHL Coaches Poll. One of his best attributes is his hard shot from the point, clocked at 97.1 mph at the CHL Top Prospects game.

    Get the Highlighter
    Sat., Oct. 7 vs. Blackhawks: Chicago christens the Nationwide Arena. Real mystery, though is how Blue Jackets will break it in.
    Thurs., Oct. 12 at Calgary: First-ever road game takes place at Calgary.
    Wed., Dec. 27 at New Jersey: First of two games against Stanley Cup champion Devils. Both occur in a span of four days.
    Mon., Jan. 15 vs. Wild: The fight for expansion dominance begins as the Wild invades Columbus.
    Wed., Jan. 17 at Minnesota: In the second of three meetings, the Blue Jackets make their first visit to Minnesota.

    Quoteworthy
    "I've had an opportunity to play in what I felt was the best building in the league in Toronto, a great new arena with a unique hockey atmosphere. But I'll tell you, once I stepped inside (Nationwide) for the first time, I just couldn't believe it. With all due respect to Toronto, I think we're going to have the best rink in the league."
    --Forward Kevyn Adams

    Team-by-team previews compiled by CNNSI.com's Ken Klavon, Jamie MacDonald and Jimmy Traina.


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