Columbus Blue Jackets 2023-24 player review, Nick Blankenburg was pushed out

It’s an uphill battle to stay in the NHL being an undrafted free agent. Nick Blankenburg had a promising start to his NHL career. However, a poor performance this season has put his long-term future with the Blue Jackets into question.
Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

When the Blue Jackets signed Nick Blankenburg as an undrafted free agent back in 2021, many fans knew little about him. However, he quickly became a fan favorite. For a small player, he played hard, fast, and gritty. He had the ability to score and added a spark to the CBJ.

Last season (2022-2023), he was thrust in a larger role with the team due to all of the injuries. He played well and showed a lot of promise. Unfortunately, he succumbed to injury and only played in 36 games with the Blue Jackets.

This season (2023-2024), Blankenburg seemed to encounter a bit of bad luck. It started with him not making the Blue Jackets out of training camp. To his fairness, it came down to numbers and waiver exemption. Blankenburg could be sent to the AHL without waivers, while other defensemen could not. The CBJ did not want to lose any players for nothing, so Blankenburg had the unfortunate luck of not having an equal shot to make the big club.

He played well for Cleveland, playing in 24 games and scoring 13 points. He was one of the better defensemen for the Monsters, but only got into 12 NHL games. He did not play as well in Columbus, as he only scored 1 goal and did not provide as much energy as he had in previous seasons. He battled injuries all season and was only able to play in a total of 36 games all year.

The combination of his waiver exemption status, injuries, and shaky performance led to a mediocre season overall for Blankenburg.

Blankenburg will be a group 6 unrestricted free agent this summer. It will be up to the new general manager whether to retain Blankenburg or not. My best guess would be that the Blue Jackets would like to keep him, but on a two-way contract.

He is a good, depth defensemen and will be a good veteran for the Cleveland Monsters. With all of the young defensemen in the CBJ pipeline, they need to make room for them on the team and likely won’t have any room for Blankenburg full-time.

Blankenburg may be looking for a one-way deal elsewhere. If another team offers him what he is looking for, then it would not surprise me if he played for another team next season.

. Nick Blankenburg 2023-2024 grade:. Nick Blankenburg 2023-2024 grade:. C-. Final season stats: 12 games played, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 point, 4 PIM, +1, 10 shots on goal

In his third season with the Blue Jackets, Blankenburg struggled to stay with the big club and struggled to stay healthy. While he still has talent and promise, this season didn’t help his case for staying in the Blue Jackets for the long-term. He gets a C- for what was probably his worst season in the NHL.