Columbus Enters NHL with Denis
The Columbus Blue Jackets are now officially part of the National Hockey League. They have a very agressive General Manager/President in Doug MacLean. They have several very talented scouts who have already led the Jackets to sign several young players (Reich, Schill, Nielson, Moran). And now, pre-expansion draft, the Jackets have a number one goalie. Marc Denis is the newest member of the Blue Jackets. He was traded from Colorado to Columbus for a second round draft pick. “We never would have considered making this trade, but we had Marc Denis rated as the premier young goaltender in the National Hockey League,” said MacLean. “We think he will be an outstanding goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets for many years to come.” Who am I to argue? Denis posted 9 wins last season, including 3 shutouts. He appeared in 23 games and posted a sparkling 2.54 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. Denis, if not traded, would have been one of (if not the) top pick in the expansion draft. He is only 22 years young, and showed signs of brilliance last season. “I’m excited about the opportunity. It is indeed a challenge, but I’ve never been a person who shies away from challenges,” said Denis. “The trade is a little bit of a shock, but that doesn’t mean it is a negative. I think this is a positive for me. I’m looking forward to visiting Columbus this summer and playing there next season.”
Denis may be the first of several solid players to join the two expansion teams. Other names such as Manny Fernandez, John Vanbiesbrouck, Jeff Hackett have been mentioned as possible players who will be left unprotected in the upcoming expansion draft. The Blue Jackets have been very busy in their young existence. They already have two goalies, two defensemen, and ten forwards under contract. In this group includes WHL most valuable player, Brad Moran….two players from gold medal winning Czech Republic National Team…and Marc Denis. “Everything I’ve been told about these kids is that not only do they have ability, but they also have great character,” said MacLean. “By having our own farm team (Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League), we can put 20-year-old players there and give them a chance to develop.” Stay tuned for what MacLean can whip up during the expansion draft and beyond….