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2005-06 Finish: 35-43-4, 13th West
General Manager: Doug MacLean (6th Season)
Head Coach: Gerard Gallant (3rd Season)
2005-06 Goals For: 223
2005-06 Goals Against: 279
2005-06 Power Play: 14.2% (28th)
2005-06 Penalty Killing: 81.8% (17th)
Points Leader: David Vyborny (65)
Goals Leader: Rick Nash (31)
Assists Leader: David Vyborny (43)

Offseason Moves: Acquired left wing Fredrik Modin and goaltender Fredrik Norrena from the Tampa Bay Lightning for goaltender Marc Denis; signed forward Anson Carter, who had been with the Vancouver Canucks, to a one-year contract; signed defenceman Anders Eriksson, who had been in Russia, to a one-year contract; signed centre Alexander Svitov, who had been in Russia, to a one-year contract; signed goaltender Ty Conklin, who had been with the Edmonton Oilers; signed defenceman Tomas Kloucek, who had been with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Goaltending: The Blue Jackets traded Marc Denis to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the offseason, placing full confidence in young Pascal Leclaire as their new No. 1 man. Leclaire is coming off a rookie campaign that saw him sport a .911 save percentage in 33 games, and there's no place for him to go but up. There will be a lot more debate over the backup spot, with Fredrik Norrena and Ty Conklin competing for duty. Norrena brings lots of international flavour with solid Olympic experience and a bronze medal at the World Championship on his resume. Conklin, 30, is coming off a merry-go-round season in goal with Edmonton in which he played just 18 games. He could put up better numbers with more starts under his belt.

Defence: The Columbus blueline has a little bit of everything. As always, veteran Adam Foote brings an excellent defensive game and leadership. A healthy Bryan Berard can put up good offensive numbers, while Rostislav Klesla plays a more sound two-way game with each passing season. The only question mark may be toughness. Ron Hainsey has a lot of mobility for his 6-3, 211-pound frame, but is is not known for playing a physical game. The same can be said of Duvie Westcott, Aaron Johnson and new addition Anders Eriksson.

Forwards: The Blue Jackets stumbled out of the gate last year, and much of it could have been attributed to the loss of Rick Nash in the early going. He played just 54 games last year due to ankle and knee injuries, and the team certainly missed his goal-scorer's touch. It doesn't get any easier for the Blue Jackets this year, as the team could be without unsigned forward Nikolai Zherdev to start the year. The Russian youngster really took off last season, espcially with the help of veteran centre Sergei Fedorov. But even without Zherdev, the Blue Jackets have a very reliable set of skaters. Winger David Vyborny led the team in scoring with a career-best 65 points, and is part of a lineup that also features Fedorov, Fredrik Modin, Manny Malhotra and Jason Chimera - all forwards who play great two-way games. The team also has a solid insurance plan in free-agent winger Anson Carter. He scored 33 goals for Vancouver last season and should bolster Columbus's attack. If they can get Zherdev signed, look for goals to be scored in the bunches.

Welcome to the NHL: Gilbert Brule started last season with the Blue Jackets, but was sidelined early by injuries and was sent back to junior. He'll be pencilled in for full-time duty in 2006-07, and will centre the first or second line. With excellent hands and playmaking skills, he should be a treat to watch alongside Nash.
 
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