As the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to search for solutions on defense, one thing has become abundantly clear: there isn't a place for Andrew Peeke on this team. Not now, not in the future.
He's gotten into just 13 games for the Jackets this season, posting 4 assists and a -5 rating while averaging 16:56 per game. This comes after he finished last season with an NHL-worst -41 rating, with 6 goals and 13 points in 80 games played. He also set an analytics-era worst -9.91 game score on April 1st.
In each of Peeke's last two games, the team faced the Toronto Maple Leafs. In the first outing (December 23); the Jackets lost 4-1. In just 9:21 of ice time, Peeke was on the ice for a goal against, at the end of a 2:29 shift - his first shift of the night.
The last time we saw #2 for the Blue Jackets was on December 29th - a 6-5 overtime win. Peeke was an expected -3, and was in fact on the ice for 3 Toronto goals against in 14:51. His last shift, resulting in a goal against; came at the end of another 2+ minute shift.
Put it all together, and he's -4 in his last two games, while averaging less than 12 minutes per game. He was on the ice for basically half of the team's goals against in those two games, while playing in roughly 20% of them.
He has a CF% of under 40% this season - which means the team is defending more than 60% of the time when he's on the ice. This would explain the frequency of 2+ minute shifts. Worse, his xGF% at 5 on 5 is just less than 28%(!) (per natural stat trick). Without diving too far into things, he has to be amongst the worst players in the entire NHL in that category.
Peeke was so bad in that December 29th game, that the team opted to recall journeman defenseman Jake Christiansen from the Cleveland Monsters the next morning. Even as the injuries have mounted over the last few weeks, with Damon Severson, Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, and Zach Werenski all missing time; Peeke has struggled to find minutes for the club.
The worst part of this situation is his contract; which, combined with his play, basically makes him untradeable. Peeke is signed for two seasons after this one, at an AAV of $2.75m against the cap.
With nearly every team in the league pressed right up against the salary cap, teams are hard pressed to make space even for players sitting at league minimum. And even if someone has space, how many teams would be lining up to add a strictly defensive defenseman who is constantly out-matched defensively?
In my opinion, there are only two ways out of this for the Blue Jackets. Their first option would be to add other pieces to send him off to a team with cap space. They would have to throw in a high draft pick or good prospect and probably still eat some cap to get rid of him in this scenario.
The second, more likely option? An off-season buyout. A buyout is actually pretty palatable, because Peeke is still somewhat young and it would spread the remaining value of his contract out across four years - resulting in a cap hit of just under $917k per year (per capfriendly.com).
Whatever it takes, it's time for the Jackets to move on from this player. His presence not only creates a logjam to the roster - he's actually become quite the liability on the ice.