The Columbus Blue Jackets will remain competitive despite losing several key players during a tumultuous offseason, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said Tuesday.
"We are going to miss some contributions those guys had," Kekalainen said. "It's undeniable that they are good players and we have great respect for them, but we are going to be good without them as well."
The Blue Jackets swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round last season before losing to the Boston Bruins, the eventual conference champions, in the second round in six games. But the team that starts this season will look quite different than the one that gave the Presidents' Trophy-winning Lightning fits with a suffocating, relentless style of play.
The Blue Jackets lost three unrestricted free agents July 1. Sergei Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goalie, agreed to terms on a seven-year contract with the Florida Panthers. Forward Artemi Panarin, who had 169 points (55 goals, 114 assists) in two seasons with the Blue Jackets, agreed to a seven-year contract with the New York Rangers. Center Matt Duchene, acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 22 before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline, signed a seven-year contract with the Nashville Predators.