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Rumblings: Blue Jackets still happy with their roster

Never in his career has Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen seen one of his teams hammered by injuries like his club has fallen victim to this season.

"No, and I don’t really need to see it again, either," Kekalainen told ESPN.com Tuesday.

Man-games lost are not an official NHL statistic; teams track it differently, but Columbus at 346 and counting surely leads the league. It has been one after another right from the get-go, and it hasn’t relented.

Which is why, as the March 2 trade deadline approaches, the Jackets aren’t quite like most of the other non-playoff teams right now. They’re not conducting a fire sale as they attempt to re-tool their team for next season.

While Columbus will listen to trade offers and no doubt make a move or two, the sense in the Jackets' organization is that this is a good team, one that made the playoffs last season, one that has gained experience, but one that needs to just stay healthy next season.

Just flip the page on this horrid season of bad luck.

"Well, we haven’t seen our team healthy all year, that’s a fact," Kekalainen said. "That would be nice if we could see it before the end of the year and see where we’re at, make that assessment. We believed in this team at the start of the season and we still believe that we have some pretty good parts moving forward into the future.

"Having said that, we’re always still looking to improve. If there’s something that we can do to improve the team in the long term, we’ll certainly look at that."

Mark Letestu is the only pending unrestricted free agent of real note on the club. There are restricted free-agent wingers such as Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert who have garnered attention from other teams. The internal discussion for the Jackets is probably balancing the cost of re-signing Atkinson or Calvert and the quality of trade offers presented to them before the March 2 deadline. So that could go either way.

If a team dying to add a defenseman asked about veteran James Wisniewski (who has two more years left on his deal after this season carrying a $5.5 million cap hit), my guess is the Jackets would listen.

But you don’t get the sense, unlike with many of the non-playoff teams, that an overhaul is coming. This is a good team that simply has a dark cloud hanging over it this season.

"I don’t think we’re in a situation where we need to blow things up or anything like that, not from a contractual point of view or any other point of view," Kekalainen said. "I think that we’ll just evaluate whatever opportunity might come our way before the deadline."