Where Do the Columbus Blue Jackets Go From Here?

NHL Metro Division

The Columbus Blue Jackets were the talk of the hockey world. After “ALL-IN” at the trade deadline, Columbus was setting up a shot to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

Instead of selling off assets in unrestricted free agents Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets added to their roster. First, the team traded for Matt Duchene from Ottawa. Right after, the Blue Jackets acquired Matt Duchene’s Ottawa teammate Ryan Dzingel. To close at the trade deadline, Columbus added depth by acquiring Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid.

Future of the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things started off slow for the Blue Jackets as the team failed to find their stride. It took some time, but the Blue Jackets finally found their game. With their season on the line, the Blue Jackets won the final seven of eight games to close out the regular season.

Entering the playoffs the Blue Jackets were one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs. However, Columbus was still not given a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. Instead of backing down, the Blue Jackets swept the Lightning out of the playoffs, despite falling down 3-0 in the first period of Game 1.

With the Columbus Blue Jackets season coming to an end at the hands of the Boston Bruins in Game 6, is it too soon to question what the future holds for the organization.

All season long questions were floating around about futures of Panarin and Bobrovsky. The fact that both of these players led the Blue Jackets this far gives fans optimism. However, both players are free agents and have expressed interest to play elsewhere. Neither player wanted to comment on their futures after the loss.

However, General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen wants to attract players that want to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus is building something special and the fans are finally on board. Getting love from the fans is the most important thing for players.

Both players are linked to signing in the same place considering both have the same agents. Panarin, who led the Blue Jackets in points in the playoffs, either will go to the New York Rangers or Florida Panthers. Bobrovksy, on the other hand, is looking to be paid like Carey Price.

Unfortunately for Bobrovsky, his playoff performances will always haunt him. Again when his team needed the most, Bobrovsky failed to deliver. With Columbus leading 2-1 in the series, Bobrovsky surrounded 11 goals to close out the series. Even though he has won two Vezina Trophies, the playoffs are still a challenge.

Outside of Panarin in the playoffs, who stands out, the rest of the offense is so similar in their style of play. Columbus is a team that likes to grind things out, but not having another superstar hurts them. While Matt Duchene is a superstar, he does not stand out like Panarin.

Duchene delivered for the Blue Jackets since coming over from Ottawa. He is definitely a player that could stay and be a part of the foundation in Columbus. Ryan Dzingel, on the other hand, maybe looking at another home next season. Dzingel never seemed to find his niche in John Tortorella’s system.

Columbus has good pieces in place, but this team will look vastly different next season. How does a team replace a goal scorer like Panarin? Or a goalie like Bobrovsky? But with the NHL being such a copycat league, maybe Columbus follows the models built in Carolina and New York.

If Columbus wants to take the next step, the players must elevate their game come the playoffs. Its great these players have individual success in the regular season. But none of that means anything when you lose in the second round of the playoffs.

Sure, Columbus took a step making it to the second round of the playoffs, but the team is not satisfied with the result. And that is a good thing. As the old saying goes, a team needs to learn how to lose, before they can win. Columbus now knows what it takes to win in the playoffs.

Read More:

NHL Metro Division Notebook: Columbus Falls to the Boston Bruins

Photo Credit: By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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