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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Zach Werenski led the team with 24:32, which is fine for a #1 defenseman. But they played Boone Jenner way too much. He was second on the team, playing a whopping 21:38.

Now, I get that Boone is the captain. He's reliable in all situations; whether you need a faceoff, a strong offensive zone shift, a defensive zone start, or a power-play goal. You can always count on Boone.

The problem here is, we know that we can count on Boone. We need this team to figure out if they can start to count on the other guys. The guys who are going to be at the top of the lineup when this team starts to contend.

Boone Jenner
Vegas Golden Knights v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

I also have to mention, Boone is a guy with a long history of injuries, including back problems - bad enough that the team often talks about limiting his minutes when they can. What better time that right now, when the games don't matter any more?

Why not throw red-hot Cole Sillinger's line on the ice in more meaningful minutes? Or, give the Russian line a heavy look in the offensive zone?

Better yet, let's give Trey Fix-Wolansky a more realistic chance to make a difference. This could be his last opportunity with this team, and he's proven that he deserves a serious look. They played short a forward on Saturday, and he still only got 12:08.

I don't care about wins and losses for the rest of this season. Sure, watching the team win is more fun than watching them lose. But, at some point, they have to turn the heavy minutes over to their younger players.

It's the next step in their evolution as a team.