Respect is earned in the NHL. The Blue Jackets are seemingly on their way.
Not too long ago, it was commonplace to regrettably click a "power rankings" story and do the customary scrolling to the bottom to find Columbus listed. Those days, for now, are gone.
After securing consecutive playoff berths for the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets are on the rise and earning more attention in the national media. They're in it deep with division rivals Washington (you may have heard about their recent accomplishment) and Pittsburgh (yeah, them too) – but beyond those two, the Metropolitan is wide open. The Blue Jackets want to be one of the rock-solid contenders on an annual basis.
ESPN.com recently released its first projections for the 2018-19 season, which lists the Tampa Bay Lightning as its No. 1 team and the Stanley Cup champion Capitals at No. 4 overall.
The Blue Jackets slide in at No. 9, with this commentary from Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan:
The good news? The Blue Jackets reached the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history. The bad news? They're still looking to get past the first round. Columbus' biggest summer concern is top scorer Artemi Panarin (27 goals, 82 points), who is entering his free-agent walk year.
You can read ESPN's complete power rankings here.