The Columbus Blue Jackets made a surprising move on Saturday; placing forward Eric Robinson on waivers. The forward cleared waivers and was assigned to the Cleveland Monsters on Sunday.
If you were hoping to see some changes, well, this is a big one. Wanting to tweak their lineup after a lackluster performance on Thursday, the Jackets needed to clear a roster spot for enforcer Mathieu Olivier, who was set to come off of IR. They could have made the easy choice and returned recently recalled defenseman David Jiricek right back to Cleveland; but instead, they made the bold choice by placing veteran forward Eric Robinson on waivers.
Originally signed out of the NCAA ranks as an undrafted free agent, Robinson joined the Jackets late in the 2017-18 season, getting into one game; then split time between Columbus and Cleveland the next year. Since then, he’s played four seasons at the NHL level, skating in 245 games in that span, while scoring 37 goals and 81 points.
Robinson established himself as a speedy NHL winger, who brings some size and two-way capabilities to the club. He’s mostly thought of as an effective penalty killer, but he doesn’t bring a ton else to the table. He’s not overly physical, he doesn’t have much of a scoring touch; really, the best thing you can say about him is that usually, when he’s on the ice, nothing really happens. He’s a classic replacement level player.
By sending him to the American Hockey League, the Blue Jackets just signaled to the entire league that simply being a replacement level player here, is not enough to be kept around. Most importantly, they make this statement to the entire CBJ organization: they are going to play the players who are best suited to help them win now.
It would be entirely unfair to say that the opening night loss was fully on Eric Robinson. Really, you can’t say any one part of it was on him. The team was flat. But, by replacing him with some energy on Saturday night, the team was able to get the job done against a tough New York Rangers team. Unfortunately, that probably leaves him on the outside looking in, unless injuries begin to pile up.
Some looked at this as a potential precursor to a big trade, which is entirely possible. The Jackets recoup some cap savings here, though with a recapture penalty. It could give them enough flexibility to go out and upgrade somewhere else, should they look to move one of their defensemen. While that’s possible, I think the biggest take-away here is that this team isn’t happy with the status quo.
It’s no longer a “rebuild” situation here. This team is ready to turn a corner and improve immediately – even if it’s at the expense of some long-standing Blue Jackets. Robinson has been a hard working, loyal member of the team. But what he brings is fairly easily replaceable, and the team is clearly looking to go in a direction with more upside.