With the Columbus Blue Jackets 2013 season over for three weeks now, one doesn’t expect a lot of hockey talk about a team that missed – albeit by a thread – the playoffs. This early part of the offseason has proven different.
Once the season ended in Central Ohio, the Blue Jackets announced that forward Ryan Johansen and defenseman Dalton Prout were going to head back to the club’s Springfield Falcons AHL affiliate for their playoff run. The Falcons were 45-22-5 this past season, good enough to win the Northeast Division outright (over the affiliates for their future NHL divisional rivals in the Devils, Rangers, Flyers and Islanders, no less) and second overall in the Eastern Conference. Sure, the Falcons were helped early on by the CBJ moving the likes of Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert and Johansen to Springfield to wait out the NHL lockout, but the team’s momentum wasn’t appreciably slower once the NHL fired back up and the Blue Jackets took those youngsters off of coach Brad Larsen’s hands.
Point being, the Falcons were well-positioned to make a deep run into the playoffs this season…and the arrival of Johansen and Prout could only be seen as a positive. In some ways, their playoff insertion suggested a replay of now-NHL All Star Jamie Benn’s 2010 placement in Austin by the Dallas Stars as the AHL’s Texas Stars. Benn led the AHL in playoff scoring and drove his “baby” Stars to the Calder Cup finals, loving his experience all the way. If only we could see the same for Johansen and Prout, right? Read More