To say the 2022-23 season for the Blue Jackets has not been an easy road would be putting it mildly. The overall record shows that they are embracing tanking. BSP’s own Jacob Walters details in his season preview the high hopes Columbus came into the season with here. But, at this point, are they truly tanking, or are they competing to avoid the tank? There are many factors that are arguing for tanking at this point, but it’s not quite a lock yet. Here are some details as to what went wrong for Columbus to this point in the season.
Should the Blue Jackets Tank? Injuries Play Major Factor
One of the big factors derailing Columbus this season is the injury bug. Multiple key players have gone down, including star winger Patrik Laine. The team recently announced that the Finland native will more than likely miss the rest of the 2022-23 campaign due to a triceps strain. This isn’t the first time however, that Laine will be missing games this year. He had a sprained elbow and a sprained ankle hamper him earlier in the season. The team has also lost defensemen Zach Werenski and Jake Bean for the season, as well as right wing Justin Danforth.
Mismanagement of First-Year Coach Brad Larsen
Often, when a team is losing, the blame will end up falling on the head coach. For Columbus, that’s Brad Larsen. He’s had some big shoes to fill since the departure of John Tortorella. After a near -.500 season last year, Larsen has seen his team struggle in 2022-23.
Offensive Inconsistency Plagues Blue Jackets
When things don’t go well defensively, offense seems to follow suit. The Columbus Dispatch notes how the team struggled against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night. Way too many turnovers, not being able to get good quality shots off, or just simply bad luck. Any way it can be sliced, it is a stinker of a season in Ohio’s capital.
Should the Jackets Go After Connor Bedard?
But now the question is, who will win the Connor Bedard sweepstakes in the upcoming NHL Draft? The Blue Jackets are just a few percentage points better than the San Jose Sharks, which would equal them getting the No. 2 pick. There is, however, about a 13.5% chance Columbus could secure the No. 1 pick, according to USA Today. And Bedard looks to be a once-in-a-generation talent.
So, it’s unclear whether the Columbus Blue Jackets should legitimately tank or compete over their final few games. Yes, people will be clamoring about going for Connor Bedard, but there will be question marks once he comes into the league. It’s a wait-and-see process at this point.
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