When a team that just made the playoffs sheds veteran players in favor of unproven rookies, it often signals a rebuilding effort centered around developing prospects instead of winning now.
With the 2017-2018 Columbus Blue Jackets, it could be the sign of continued success and an even brighter future.
The Jackets will open the new season Friday night against the New York Islanders inside Nationwide Area.
Columbus hopes winger Artemi Panarin, acquired in a trade with Chicago for Brandon Saad, will be the elite sniper needed to reach the next level and get deeper into the playoffs this time around.
The Blue Jackets lost in the first round of the playoffs last season to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Columbus has never made back-to-back playoff appearances.
The 2016-2017 season also included a 16-game winning streak, just one short of the NHL record.
Versatile captain Nick Foligno has been moved from wing to center to help solidify a lineup dinged by a couple injuries.
Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, the 19-year-old forward who was the third overall pick in the 2016 draft, made the roster. So did rookie forward Sonny Milano, a first-round pick in 2014.
The Jackets are once again led by head coach John Tortorella, who signed a one-year extension in the offseason. He’s now under contract through the 2018-2019 season.