Guide To Rooting For Former Blue Jackets Players In The Stanley Cup Playoffs, Part 2

By Dan Greene on May 11, 2022 at 10:34 am
Nashville Predators center Matt Duchene talks with center Ryan Johansen before a face off during the third period against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena.
Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Now that the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is well underway, there is much to look at, both with the individual play of former Blue Jackets and how their new teams have fared thus far. 

Whether you love or hate them, or are rooting for them to fail or succeed, there have been quite a few of them that have had an impact on the playoffs, thus far.

Going into the playoffs, three teams contained multiple players that once skated in Columbus. We will look at each of those teams and players and note their performances up to this point. 

  • Nashville Predators

​The Predators found themselves on the wrong end of the only first-round sweep in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs as they fell to the first seed Colorado avalanche. While they were able to push the second game to overtime, the series wasn't particularly close, with that being the only game with a one-goal difference.

The Predators may no longer be in contention, but they do have two former Blue Jackets playing for them. Let's see how each of them did in this series.

  1.  Ryan Johansen

Johansen spent his first four-and-a-half seasons with Columbus after being selected fourth overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. He was shipped out in January of 2016 in a swap for Seth Jones. Nashville was looking to get their number one center for years to come, in the trade. Johansen, while solid, hasn't quite panned out the way they hoped he would, never recording more than 64 points in a season in Nashville.

His performance was largely underwhelming in the series with the Avalanche. He finished with two points and no goals as he was unable to give his team the scoring boost they so desperately needed.

2.  Matt Duchene

Columbus paid a heavy price at the time, when they traded for Duchene, in what turned out to be a rental for the end of the 2019 season and the playoffs. Columbus gave up a first-round pick and a couple of highly regarded prospects for him. It can be debated whether it was worth it to have him for such a short period of time, but the centerman out of Ontario did help lead the Blue Jackets to their first playoff series victory in franchise history. 

Overall, Duchene played well in this series, but it wasn't enough, as Colorado overwhelmed Nashville from start to finish. Take for example the first game of the series; Duchene potted two goals, but unfortunately, it was the Predators' only goals as they were blown out 7-2. He finished with four points in four games, including three goals.

  • Florida Panthers

​The Panthers are the only team in the playoffs with three former Blue Jackets. They nabbed the first seed in the Eastern Conference as they are battling the Washington Capitals in the first round. The series is currently deadlocked at two games apiece. 

  1.  Sergei Bobrovsky 

We won't spend too much time on Bobrovsky's history as we went over that last time. However, not only did he win two Vezinas in his time in Columbus, but he finished with the top three single-season save percentages in franchise history, as well as the two best goals-against averages.

So far, in the series against the Capitals, Bobrovsky has had his ups and downs with SV%s as high as .963 and as low as .833. Overall, he has made 99 saves for an SV% of .900 and a GAA of 2.75. 

2.  Anthony Duclair

Duclair's time in a Jackets' uniform was short-lived as he was traded away just over halfway through his first season in Columbus. He never really fit with the team's focus and spent a lot of his time in then-head-coach John Tortorella's doghouse. Duclair has bounced around to quite a few teams in the league, but he seems to have found a home in Florida, signing a new three-year deal with them, this past offseason.

Through four games, so far, the left-winger has two points, both of which are assists. His average time on ice has also fallen almost three minutes per game, from the regular season to the playoffs.

3.  Markus Nutivaara

Nutivaara was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft and spent four seasons with the Blue Jackets, before being traded to the Panthers in the 2020 offseason. Nutivaara played well in Columbus, but sadly, injuries began to derail his career in the capital city. His ailments have continued to plague him during his time in Florida as he has played just 31 games in two seasons with them.

Due to injuries, Nutivaara has not made an appearance in this playoff series.

  • Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers have two former Blue Jackets, Kris Russell and Derick Brassard, who haven't been with the organization for the past decade. These two have played sparingly as Edmonton has found themselves down 3-2 in the series with the Los Angeles Kings.

1.  Kris Russell

Russel was the first of the two to leave the Jackets when he was traded to St. Louis in the 2011-12 season. He was never a big offensive threat, recording no more than 23 points in any of the four-and-a-half seasons he was in Columbus, but he did develop a knack for blocking shots, with 128 of them in his last full season with the Blue Jackets.

The 35-year-old defenseman has played in only one game this series, recording three hits, one blocked shot, and one shot-on-goal in 9:43 of ice time.

2.  Derick Brassard

Brassard was shipped out of Columbus one year after Russell, during the 2012-13 season. He was drafted six overall, by the club, in 2006. He didn't quite live up to the expectation of being a top-line center as he never scored more than 47 points in any of the five full seasons he spent with the team.

Brassard has also played in just one game of the series between the Oilers and Kings. His stat line is even worse than Russell's, with no shots on goal and three hits in eight minutes and twelve seconds.