Nick Foligno is disappointed so many of his now-former teammates chose to sign elsewhere this offseason.
"We did everything we possibly could to show them we're a legit team," Foligno told The Canadian Press. "In a way it was a surprise (they left), but it was their right. My thing is, you don't leave a good team to try to find another one. What we're building in Columbus, everyone is excited to be part of it. You want guys fully on board."
Panarin and Bobrovsky both signed elsewhere as unrestricted free agents on July 1.
The dynamic winger inked a reported seven-year, $81.5-million contract with the New York Rangers, while the veteran goaltender joined the Florida Panthers on a seven-year pact reportedly worth $70 million. Trade acquisition Matt Duchene also left Columbus, agreeing to a seven-year, $56-million deal with the Nashville Predators.
Foligno credited the trio's efforts with the Blue Jackets but still lamented their respective departures.
"Had they dogged it or caused problems or not given it their best, then you have issues," he said. "But between Bob and (Panarin) and Matt, they all worked extremely hard. It's their choice to go. You don't agree with it, but you want guys that want to play in Columbus."
Foligno has spent the last seven of his 12 NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets, who made the playoffs this past spring after adding pending UFAs Duchene and Ryan Dzingel before the trade deadline while keeping Panarin and Bobrovsky. Dzingel ultimately departed as well, signing a two-year, $6.75-million deal with the Carolina Hurricanes on July 12.
Columbus pulled off a stunning first-round sweep of the heavily favored Tampa Bay Lightning before the Boston Bruins eliminated them in six games.