The Blue Jackets' first order of business when last season ended was a complete evaluation of the franchise, from ownership to the stick boys.
Majority owner John P. McConnell had watched the Blue Jackets play for 10 seasons without ever experiencing a playoff victory. Thus, he felt it was time for the franchise to do some self-examining after the Blue Jackets went 34-35-13 last season for 81 points.
"I wouldn't call it a witch hunt," McConnell said. "I would describe it as, with any of my businesses, trying to understand where it's at, where it wants to go and what we need to do to get it there."
McConnell decided to overhaul the scouting department, firing pro scouting director Bob Strumm and amateur scouting director Don Boyd, who had been in those jobs since the Blue Jackets' expansion season in 2000-01. However, the most important thing McConnell did was open the checkbook and allow general manager Scott Howson to make some big moves.
Either by trade or free agency, Howson acquired center Jeff Carter, defenseman James Wisniewski and winger Vinny Prospal. Carter had 36 goals and 30 assists last season for the Flyers while Wisniewski registered a combined 10 goals and 41 assists for the Islanders and Canadiens; Prospal tallied nine goals and 14 assists for the Rangers in just 29 games.
Howson concluded the offseason by re-signing defenseman Fedor Tyutin for a six-year, $27 million contract to pair with Wisniewski, who signed a six-year, $33 million deal, as the front pair on the blue line.
"After signing James Wisniewski this summer, it wouldn't have made much sense to sign James and let Fedor get away," Howson. "We're trying to build a very good defensive corps, and we think Fedor is a big part of that."
Tyutin had seven goals and 20 assists last season for the Blue Jackets, who got off to a 14-6 start but couldn't sustain the pace. However, Tyutin believes the offseason acquisitions give the Blue Jackets enough talent to get to the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
"Columbus is where I want to be," Tyutin said. "It's a very good place for me. Good city. Good place for my family. But it's more than that. You hear about the moves from this summer -- Carter, Wisniewski, Prospal and some of the other guys -- and you see what management is thinking. You see where this team is going to go."
News and Notes:
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren says he expects anywhere from 45-65 points from 39-year-old center Jaromir Jagr, who returns to the NHL after two years in the KHL. In his last season in the NHL with the Rangers in 2008-09, Jagr had 25 goals and 46 assists.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne says he would like to remain with the Predators for the long haul but they may be forced to choose between re-signing either him or defenseman Shea Weber before both reach free agency at the end of the season. It is unlikely the Predators can afford both.
Two goalies who figure to be traded at some point this season are the Canucks' Cory Schneider and the Kings' Jonathan Bernier as both can become free agents next summer and want to find spots where they will get more starts.
The Senators are willing to trade defenseman Filip Kuba but aren't getting much interest because of his $3.7 million salary cap hit.
The Avalanche is likely to keep both first-round draft picks on the season-opening roster, left wing Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Duncan Siemens. The Avalanche is also willing to trade center Jay McClement, who appears to be getting lost in the team's youth movement.
Jacob Josefson, a 20-year-old center, has been so impressive in the Devils' training camp that he is expected to be one of the top six forwards and be paired on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk.