This Isn't The Worst Version Of The Columbus Blue Jackets In Franchise History... Yet

By Ed Francis on April 19, 2021 at 1:45 pm
The Columbus Blue Jackets are more than struggling; they're just plain bad.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the Columbus Blue Jackets look back on 20 seasons, they're quite often revisiting memories of the early years of the franchise; when NHL hockey was just getting started in the capital city.

It wasn't supposed to become a look back at teams that were better than this year's installment of the Blue Jackets, but here we are.

Geoff Sanderson and David Vyborny, come give this team a spark.

As the team listlessly begins their final 10-game stretch in a season that can't end soon enough, Columbus has nothing to gain. They've got a lame-duck coach, no exciting prospects to preview to get the 5th Line pumped for next season, they're not making the playoffs even if they win out. 

Over the last number of months, the club has looked back on its original seasons in video packages and player profiles, and there's been a reminder that the teams in early years (and later years, too) seemed to play with a little more passion than this version of the team, who don't always seem interested in what's happening on the ice.

It's an unfortunate thing to notice, but the not-so-dirty little secret is that it actually behooves the Blue Jackets to lose over the next few weeks. This year's draft class is tough to read and there is no clear-cut top pick, but it goes without saying that the higher the draft pick the Blue Jackets can get, the better off they'll be - whether or not they use it, or use it as part of a potential trade. Columbus has the first-round picks of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, but neither of those picks are likely going to be in the top 20.

As the standings currently fall, the Blue Jackets have the 6th worst record in the league, but are 7th in line for the top overall pick - thanks a lot, Seattle Kraken. That 7th position means they have a 6.5% chance of winning the lottery. Those odds increase by a meager 1% until you get into the top two (the Kraken are locked in at 3rd best odds, which is 11.5%). 

Of course, the Columbus Blue Jackets have never won the draft lottery - even when in prime position to do so. They did make the first pick in the draft once, some guy named Rick Nash, but that came via a trade with the Florida Panthers. How apropos would it be for the team to win their first draft lottery in their 20th season, with no Connor McDavid, Alex Ovechkin, or Sidney Crosby to select. 

But unless this team goes from dumpster fire to straight fire between now and the end of the season, they'll be assured a good pick. Assuming they stay dumpster fire, the question becomes: just how bad could this team finish?

Worst Seasons, Club History
Worst 2001-02 0.695 57 (22-47-8-5)
2nd Worst 2003-04 0.756 62 (25-45-8-4)
3rd Worst 2011-12 0.792 65 (29-46-7)
4th Worst 2002-03 0.841 69 (29-42-8-3)
5th Worst 2020-21 0.847* 69* (???)

If Columbus goes 0-for-Florida in the next four games, that 0.847 pace will dip down to 0.780 - which will mean that in the 20-year history of the Blue Jackets, this season will go down as the third worst in franchise history. 

Curious to know how bad things could get? Here you go:

  • To avoid the 4th worst season in team history, the Blue Jackets will need to pick up of nine their last 20 possible points. That's needing to go around .500 from here out, which seems an arduous task. 
  • If they pick up eight or less, they move into 4th. Columbus could go 4-6-0 from here out and they'd still slip.
  • If they pick up five or less, they will move into third worst. Ending the season 2-7-1 "accomplishes" this feat.
  • If they pick up three points or less, which seems unlikely but, who knows, they'll trail only the 2001-02 Blue Jackets for the worst team in franchise history.
  • If they lose out, they technically won't be the worst team in club history. This team would finish with a 57-point pace over a traditional season, which would tie the record for fewest in a season. They would finish at 0.696 points per game, a whopping 0.001 better than the second year of the franchise, when they averaged 0.695.  

Happy 20th, 5th Line!