Eric Robinson was one of the few NHL regulars on the Blue Jackets who was not significantly bitten by the injury bug in 2022-2023. With all the injuries, Robinson had a chance to elevate himself in the lineup to more than a 4th line player. However, Robinson was a mainstay on the 4th line. The number of forwards pushing for ice time is growing, which raises the question: will Robinson have a role on the 2023-2024 CBJ squad?
LW Eric Robinson
6’2”, 197 lbs
2022-2023 stats: 72 GP, 12 G, 12 A, 24 PTS, -21, 6 PIMs
Acquired: Signed as a free agent, March 2018
Contract: $1.6m AAV through 2023-2024
Role: Fourth line winger
Eric Robinson has been a decent player for the CBJ through his career. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton and has been a consistent 4th liner. He has top notch speed and plays well defensively. He chips in for 7-12 goals per season and works hard doing so. This past season was Robinson’s best, as he played in most of the games and hit a career high in goals. However, with all the injuries that the team suffered in 2022-2023, Robinson was given more opportunities to succeed than in prior seasons. Robinson still found difficulty cementing himself higher in the lineup. He seems to have hit his ceiling in the NHL: career 4th line player.
Robinson will have an uphill battle in 2023-2024. He will be competing with 17 other forwards for 12 spots. His speed and defensive play will need to impress new coach Mike Babcock to solidify a spot in the lineup. Should he make the lineup, he will be a fixture on the 4th line. However, I suspect he will be going back-and-forth between playing on the 4th line and being a healthy scratch due to all the players pushing for ice time. He may even be traded or claimed off waivers prior to the season starting, as it just appears that there is little-to-no room for him in the lineup.
One bold prediction: Robinson will play 60+ games this season…for a different team. I think the writing is on the wall for Eric Robinson. He has been with the CBJ for 6 seasons, none of which has he shown to be more than a 4th line player. With the number of players pushing for playing time, I think that Robinsons time with the Blue Jackets may be coming to an end. He will either be traded or claimed off waivers early in the season or in training camp.
Three keys to success:
- Speed is your main weapon, use it. Eric Robinson is one of the fastest players on the Blue Jackets and possibly in the NHL. He must use that speed to his advantage. He needs to exploit slower players and make plays at a high speed to separate himself.
- Stay Healthy. Robinson has been fortunate over the past few seasons. He has missed minimal time due to injury. With all the injuries that the Blue Jackets experienced last season, his health boded well for his ice time. Should the injury bug again plague the CBJ (fingers crossed that it does not), Robinson would likely continue to see ice time on the 4th line.
- Don’t be afraid to be a leader. Robinson is one of the longest tenured Blue Jackets for the upcoming season. He should know this team, organization, and city very well by now. While he has not proven to be a vocal leader on this team, maybe he should work on that skill to separate himself from the pack. Anything he can do to impress the coaching staff and help this team will be good for him.
The 28 year-old has proven that he is best on the 4th line. If he makes the CBJ roster this season, expect him to play 10-15 minutes a night in that role. Once the 2023-2024 season is over, he will be an unrestricted free agent. For an organization that has a lot of good, young talent that will be playing over the next few seasons, it is hard to imagine Robinson making the team past this season.