Look Toward the Off Season: Part 3
This is the third and probably most interesting installment of Look Toward the Off Season. Today we talk potential trades. Columbus doesn't have a ton to do when signing their own RFAs and UFAs (see Part 1) and the free agent market is a little thin this year causing the few star UFAs to have an inflated value (see Part 2). Part 3 is all about trades. This is the most speculative as there is no indication of who will be available or what the asking price would be. But it makes for fun discussion.
When speculating about trades I will look at other teams needs at positions that Columbus has an excess of talent, defense and a goalie. While it may not be the best idea for Columbus to trade away either of their young talented goalies, they could bring back the scoring the CBJ needs. If they move one of these young goalies their will be other veteran goalies hitting the free agent market that could challenge for the starting spot in Columbus. I'm looking at Crawford, Holtby, Anderson, Howard, Greiss, Talbot, Halak, Mike Smith, Dell, Lehner...the list of UFA goalies goes on and on. Some of these guys will demand a starting position with a contract to match, but some are in the twilight of their careers looking to prove their worth and stay employed (even as a back up). Would it be wise to replace a young, talented goalie with potential, for a vet on the decline? My answer is: depends on what scoring talent you get back.
There are several teams out there looking to get over the hump and into the playoffs and other teams with a desire to make a long run and even a bid for the Cup.
Teams looking to get over the hump and into the playoffs on a regular basis, in my opinion, are Chicago, Arizona and Minnesota in the West as well as Florida, Montreal, Buffalo and the Rangers in the East. Tampa, Toronto, the Islanders, Calgary, Winnipeg and Nashville will want to solidify playoff caliber rosters to make a run at the Cup.
That is a lot of teams that could use some of what Columbus has. I will focus on just a few. First, I'm going to weed out the Metro teams (Islanders and Rangers) as trades within the division are tricky. Montreal and Buffalo are teams that are building, have enough talent on defense and know who their goaltenders will be in the near future, so they are out too. ARI made moves for Hall and Kessel that may prohibit big moves this off season. That still leaves quite a list with CHI, MIN, FLA, TBL, TOR, CAL, WIN and NSH.
Nashville has been a trading partner in the past, is geographically close to Columbus and resides in the Western conference. This means that Jarmo knows that roster well and would have the relationships to make a move with them. Problem is that they have a good goalie tandem, solid defense and forwards that have had their time in Columbus already. Other than depth scoring, they don't hold much that the Jackets desire.
WIN, CAL, FLA and TBL are intriguing trade partners. All four of these teams need something that Columbus has and have something that would work nicely on the Jackets roster. What would Columbus want from each of these teams:
Columbus would possibly give up one of their goalies and/or a defensemen. Something like Elvis and Nuti/Murray, but it would probably give more (maybe draft pick(s)).
I've talked about this one before, no surprise here. The Flames have shored up their D at the trade deadline (Gustafsson), but have quite a bit on the blue line that could hit the open market this summer. Rittich looks to be the goalie of the future. Pick a couple of d-men not named Werenski or Jones and a high-ish draft pick. Would that be enough...maybe, but probably not.
Far-fetched? That may be an understatement, but hear me out. TBL has firepower up front. Stamkos has already peaked, I hesitate to say he is on the decline, but maybe not worth $8.5M per year when you have all those other scoring options. Free agents abound on the back end in Tampa, but I don't believe they would be interested in a goalie. It may take 2-3 NHL talented defensemen. Something like Savard, Nuti/Murray and Peeke/Carlsson/Kukan. That would eliminate significant depth, but could bring in a veteran leader with a huge amount of scoring in the highly sought after Center position. Again, I stated that this one is far-fetched.
If FLA intends on re-signing Hoffman and Dadonov, could Huberdeau become available. He has years left on the contract with favorable terms and has the scoring ability that Columbus would be looking for. Price would be similar to the above offers, couple of d-men and possibly picks.
Some trade rumors have swirled around CHI, MIN and TOR at and before the deadline. I will take them one-by-one.
Matthews, Tavares and Marner headline the scoring AND the salary cap hit ($32M+). Nylander has significant years on a reasonable contract (under $7M per). A headlining role could result in more scoring or in his need for support. Either way, his game looks like it would fit in Columbus. TOR would be looking for top line defensemen. Does this mean that Werenski or Jones needs to be included? I certainly hope neither of those guys would be moved. Murray, Gavrikov, Peeke, Nutivaara, Kukan and Savard could be in play along with high draft picks. Obviously Columbus would not send all those guys to TOR, but a combination of 2-3 could move.
It was reported that a deal was in place for MIN to move Zach at the deadline to NYI. It didn't happen, but shows a willingness for MIN to be open to offers. Not sure what the ask would be for Parise, likely draft picks and prospects because they are solid in G and on D.
The caveat to getting Kane means you have to take Seabrook too. I was assured that this was a rumor that could have happened, not necessarily in Columbus but Chicago was game in moving these two. That is $17M in cap space needed to land a top-5 scorer and a bottom pair d-man. Is this too big a hit to even consider? The cost would be one of the goalies a non-Jones/Werenski defenseman and a mid-high-is draft pick (maybe more).
Kane would be awesome. His skill changes the whole strategy in Columbus. Seabrook, with that contract is an albatross. Kane's contract is 3 more years while Seabrook would be around for 4 more seasons (at almost $7M).
I would term this as a swing-for-the-fence and need-to-win-now ultimatum to this team. If Kane would get hurt or not want to play in Columbus (like Carter) it could set the franchise back many years. This all-or-nothing move, in combination with the all-in trade deadline moves a year ago would put Jarmo on the hot seat with a renewed demand for on-ice results.
How do you feel about any of these moves? Are there other trade partners or players you would target?
Thanks for reading, stay safe and Go Jackets