The Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2015-16.
Columbus (15-25-9) was eliminated from contention when it lost 3-1 at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Blue Jackets can finish no higher than fifth in the eight-team Discover Central Division. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade to the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 23 left the Blue Jackets without a true first-line center. They acquired forwards Patrik Laine (10 goals, eight assists in 39 games since trade) and Jack Roslovic (10 goals, 20 assists in 41 online games) in the deal, but each has had ups and downs. In addition, acquiring forward Max Domi (seven goals, 12 assists in 47 video games) in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for ahead Josh Anderson on Oct. 6 and the signing of forwards Mikko Koivu on Oct. 10 (retired Feb. 9) didn’t pan out as hoped.
Columbus went from allowing 2.61 goals per game last season (tied for third fewest in NHL) to 3.33 goals per game this season (26th). The Blue Jackets also dropped to 28th in the NHL custom covid-19 decals scoring 2.37 goals per game after they tied for 27th last season with 2.57 per game.
Since climbing into a tie with the Chicago Blackhawks for fourth in the division with a 3-2 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 20, Columbus is 2-13-2. Season-ending injuries to defenseman Zach Werenski (sports hernia) and forward Boone Jenner (fractured finger), followed by the trades of defenseman David Savard (Tampa Bay Lightning) and ahead Nick Foligno (Toronto Maple Leafs), accelerated the decline.