Changes are a brewing in Ohio's capitol. Here we are, beginning of March 2021, with the Columbus Blue Jackets in a losing predicament in the wild west Central Division. The Blue Jackets currently have a 0.457 winning percentage, with a 8-10-5 record thus far into the season. They are only better than the Detroit Red Wings in winning percentage, and are tied with Nashville in a negative 15 goal differential, ahead of Detroit's negative 27 goal differential. This team was supposed to be offensively better after the Dubois blockbuster, with the additions of wingers Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic.
So, to answer the question as to why fans shouldn't panic isn't a simple answer. This team has a lot of flaws. Experience. Wins. Championship pedigree. Franchise stardom. Chemistry. New divisional rivals.
Biggest amongst all of them is centre depth. Columbus does not have a number one center, and their most consistent one requested out the door after not aligning himself with the long-term future of the organization that drafted him, blessing him with the surprise on the draft floor to obtain him. Dubois and Johansen have been their only two drafted successful centers, and both moved amidst issues with the organization. Matt Duchene and Sergei Federov were stars acquired via trade. Artemi Panarin and Rick Nash darted to the Big Apple. Sergei Bobrovsky moved to Florida.
Cap constraints cost Columbus Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivarra, Alex Wennberg, and Devin Shore for cap space, mid-level prospects, and late round draft picks. Losing defensive strength in the quality of Murray and Nutivarra and Wennberg, three successful Columbus draft picks, hurts the room's identitiy with the loss of quality success with them.
Columbus' identity is shaken as they have streaky scoring wingers with girtty centers that don't produce with the scoring wingers. Roslovic, Jenner, Foligno, Nash, Texier, Domi, and Stenlund all switch between center and wing, which messes up expectations for players game-by-game. Atkinson, Laine, and Bjorkstrand all score, but need each other to produce to the expectations set by them by fans in the Union Blue. Nyqvist has yet to play a game, and this team misses his role between all four lines, and veteran Mikko Koivu retired after seven games with the club.
Defense is an issue when star Werenski is injured, and Jones has to carry the weight of lost depth after playing a record hour plus in an overtime game against Tampa in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His weight is heavy on his shoulders. Savard is a rental and is playing his usual self. The middling depth of MDZ, Kukan, Harrington, and Carlsson and Peeke and Clendenning is great for the farm, but is damaged against the stars of Tampa and Dallas and Florida and Carolina, while Chicago continues to shock the world with their results.
Korpi and Merzy have also failed expectations thus far. Regression and surprise happen in the sport, and this is supposed to happen. They're young between the pipes, and healthy competition between them will push them both to be the best goalie for the team, while all the trade rumors float between them.
What is the big problem with Columbus this season? Their identity right now is they are a noisy team. Between Dubois wanting out and the alleged issues around Torts with the league and his benching of players has the distracted the players. The surprise of Tampa and adding Domi has added more noise with expectations. If the team can be quiet enough to perform, they will go far. That is how they battled Pittsburgh in the past.