The Next Step in the Evolution of the Blue Jackets: Changing of the Guard

The Blue Jackets took solid steps towards coming out of their rebuild on Friday. By trading away two players who didn't factor into the future, they opened up roster spots and ice time. The next step in their evolution: turning over the top half of the roster to their young players.

Mar 7, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cole Sillinger (4) looks to pass
Mar 7, 2024; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets Forward Cole Sillinger (4) looks to pass / Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
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Rebuilding is never fun, but it's something every NHL team eventually has to go through. You simply can't be good forever without facing some hard times (yes, even you, Vegas Golden Knights - it will come).

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in year four of a rebuild, and though it may not seem like it, I do think they're through the worst of it. How soon they climb out of that rebuild and start to contend, is up to an incoming GM who has a lot of talent to work with.

In the meantime, I think this team could do itself a massive favor towards the future. They would be wise to change their ice time philosophy for the remainder of the season. Call it the changing of the guard.

They somewhat forced their own hand on Friday, by dealing away two players who had become crutches over the course of the rebuild. It was easy to roll out a guy like Jack Roslovic on the top line; or throw Andrew Peeke on the ice in heavy defensive minutes.

Roslovic had the skill to play higher in the lineup in spot duty, so when you needed to sit one of your young players for making a "Harlem Globetrotters" mistake, you had that option.

Peeke could fill into the lineup when you wanted to send your top prospect to the AHL for seasoning. Or, if you wanted to scratch one of those Globetrotters for whatever reason.

But those options are gone now, and on Saturday, the team had to play some of the young guys more, right? Wrong.

The Jackets lost 2-1 to the Nashville Predators, in a game that was ultimately decided by the first 15 minutes. The Preds owned a 19-0 shot advantage, and a 1-0 lead to that point.

The teams played a mostly even game for the next 45 minutes, but the Blue Jackets just weren't able to overcome the deficit. By the end of the game, it was somewhat easy to see that they relied too heavily on a few of the usual suspects. You know who I'm talking about...