Blue Jackets’ dismal power play gets improved with Prospal signing

It's already been a busy summer for Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson after bringing in James Wisniewski and Jeff Carter to help reshape the team's offensive identity.

Part of that reshaping involves the Jackets' 29th-ranked power play last season.

When we took a look at the worst power plays in the NHL last month, here's what we said about Columbus:

What's Changed? Plenty. The additions of forward Jeff Carter and defenseman James Wisniewski were a direct response to the team's lack of goal scoring, particularly on the power play. The Wiz tallied 29 power-play points between the Islanders and the Canadiens last season. Carter has scored 32 power play goals over the last three seasons.

Will that help Rick Nash, whose six goals on the power play matched a career-low?

Better or Worse? Better, on paper, with the Jackets still seeking another offensive player to fill in while Kristian Huselius heals up. Carter especially helps.

On Saturday, Howson brought in that other offensive player by inking 36-year old winger Vinny Prospal to a 1-year, $1.75 million deal. He'll fill the void left by Huslius' absence on the IR and play an intricate role with the man advantage.

A knee injury limited him to just 29 games last season, but Prospal finished third among Rangers forwards in power play time on ice (3:08/game), and in 2009-10 he scored 20 goals and 58 points in 75 games, including six on the power play.

This wasn't a recent development given Huslieus' recent injury news. Howson was looking to beef up Columbus' power play even after the Wisniewski and Carter acquisitions.

From Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch:

Prospal is a nice piece for a team trying to build a winner. He's made nine playoff appearances in 14 years and was a valuable late-season addition to the Flyers in 2008 when they reached the Eastern Conference final. He's also a well-respected player in the room.

The Jackets have had some misses with similar veterans in recent seasons -- think Chris Clark, Ethan Moreau. But this acquisition is more reminscent of Michael Peca in 2007. In fact, Howson had spoken to Prospal's agent Ritch Winter even before the Huselius injury.

"It's a good fit for both sides," Winter said. "I told (Howson) to save me a playoff ticket."

It's a pretty important season for Columbus given the moves they've made this summer. If the Prospal move pays off for the Jackets, their depth will be vaulted when Huselius returns after the new year. But before we even start using the word "playoffs" in a sentence with the Jackets, Howson's gambles will need to pay off.

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