The next step in breaking up the “bottom of the lineup” logjam for the Blue Jackets took place on Wednesday, as the team opted to trade Eric Robinson to the Buffalo Sabres.
This move just felt inevitable. Robinson spent parts of seven seasons with the Blue Jackets and in the organization. In 266 career games, he scored 38 goals and 44 assists for 82 points, along with 40 penalty minutes and a -12 rating. Signed as a free agent after finishing his collegiate career with Princeton, Robinson joined the Jackets during their peak; and became a more prominent player for the club during its rebuild. Ultimately, he never developed beyond the fourth line however.
Robinson had the size and plenty of speed to burn, but he was never able to find his scoring touch consistently enough to work his way up the lineup for the Blue Jackets. Still, he became a strong penalty killer and a valuable energy player in the bottom-six forward group; playing in 139 games over the last two seasons while scoring 22 goals and 51 points in that time.
Unfortunately, Robinson was squeezed out of the lineup by younger, less expensive, higher upside options early this season. He was sent to the American Hockey League after playing in the season opener; spending more than a month with the Cleveland Monsters before earning his way back up.
Kudos to him for putting his head down and working, instead of sulking and complaining – and when he came back up, he continued to be the reliable two-way player we were used to seeing. But the team wasn’t extending him beyond this year, which is the final year of his two-year deal worth $1.6m AAV. So, the Jackets choose to get a potential asset in return for the speedy winger. Eric was a great Blue Jacket and I will miss seeing him in the Union Blue – but giving him an opportunity elsewhere was the right decision, both for him and the team.
Later in the afternoon, the Jackets announced that three players were hitting the IR list: goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (illness, approximately 1-week), center Cole Sillinger (upper body, retroactive to November 26, day to day) and defenseman Adam Boqvist (shoulder strain, approximately 4-weeks).
In corresponding moves, the team recalled goaltender Jet Greaves, forward Emil Bemstrom, and defenseman Nick Blankenburg from the Cleveland Monsters. All three should be in the lineup tonight as the Jackets are on Long Island, set to face off against the New York Islanders. I’m quite interested to see Blankenburg’s progression; my gut tells me that he will be a really hard player to send back down, if he does get into the lineup. He’s been really solid in the AHL this year, and I think that development time was much needed.
I definitely do not think the Jackets are done overhauling this roster. Expect plenty of movement between now and the trade deadline (Friday, March 8th); as the team looks to gain assets for players who don’t seem to be part of the long-term solution here. Maybe even one or two surprises on the move this year. We’ll be watching closely for any deals or rumors, be sure to follow along!