True, it's about as early in the regular season as it can possibly get, but the fact Columbus rookies Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek are producing right away is so important for this Blue Jackets squad.
Doormats for basically the length of their existence, the Jackets to date have only proven that you can, in fact, stock up on high draft picks and not succeed.
Rick Nash has become the star he was expected to be, but Rostislav Klesla and the recently jettisoned Gilbert Brule and Nikolai Zherdev proved that luck has nothing to do with drafting.
But Columbus's retooling in the summer not only served as an enticement for Nash to stick around once his contract is up, it also helped give players such as Brassard the space he needed to grow. In 17 games last season, Brassard had just one goal and one assist. In two games this year, he has two goals; one on the power play.
Voracek is making his first run with the Jackets, though his advanced play with the Quebec League's Halifax Mooseheads last year proved how very tempting it must have been for Columbus GM Scott Howson to keep him with the big club last season. Ah, but that would have been the old Jackets way. The way the team overwhelmed Brule with responsibility he wasn't ready for.
Voracek instead stayed with the Mooseheads, where he had a chance to bulk up his lanky frame and play a World Junior Championship in his homeland.
And now both of them can play on a forward corps with infinite more depth than last year, one that not only features the dynamic Nash, but also steady hands such as Kristian Huselius, R.J. Umberger and a healthy Freddy Modin to take the weight.
In the old days, a suspension to Michael Peca and an injury to a player such as Raffi Torres would have been a death sentence. Now, it's an obstacle that can be overcome.
Since this is The Hockey News, I don't want to bore you with non-hockey issues, but I must express some half-hearted outrage at a recent announcement.
I never thought it was a good idea for TSN to start using the classic Hockey Night in Canada theme song on its broadcasts, but now I hear pop band Simple Plan will be contributing a rendition for the network. On my birthday no less.
As a music snob, I'm horrified. As a hockey writer, I'm mystified. What demographic is TSN trying to nab with this choice, the 12-year-old girl lobby? I can understand CBC using Nickelback in broadcasts – a lot of NHLers listen to Nickelback. I can even half-justify the NHL buddying up with Usher at the All-Star Game last year – a lot of players bump Usher tunes in the dressing room.
But a lowest common denominator hair-gel act for the tween set? I know the band members are all hockey fans, but forget it. Come Wednesday I'm going to crank up some Mastodon albums and drown it all out.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his prospect-watch feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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