It is trade time with the deadline approaching next month. Jarmo was extremely active last year making some big splashes that were fun to talk about, but didn't really work out THIS year.
Last season the rental impact was felt by the TBL, but BOS was able to survive. The Jackets were buyers acquiring top line scoring, depth scoring, depth defense, backup goaltending...but lost it all in the off season. On top of that our top scorer and 2-time Vezina trophy winning goalie took their talents elsewhere.
Columbus was predicted to have an awful season and go into full rebuild mode. Early on it looked like that was going to script. Inconsistent play, injuries and an inexperienced team seemed to be the norm. And then December hit. The Jackets had a long points streak, surprised many teams with the play of their AHL call-ups and seen their goaltending round into top form.
So, where does this leave us? Last season near the deadline the Jackets were in the thick of the playoff hunt, fading in the standings and needing a spark. This season they are lower in the standings but rising and have gelled as a team. With limited picks to trade but a stable of young talent what would you do if you were Jarmo?
Here is the landscape:
1. The CBJ will get an uptick in talent just by having injured players rejoin the line up. Cam, Anderson, Bjork, Murray and Korpi could all be back for the playoff push.
2. Jarmo will not want to sell futures at the deadline this season. High picks left last season without much in return. The future is now for the Jackets. The players in the system have filled in and thrived in the NHL. Yes, they have some value on the market, but they also have value on this team.
3. This website ties the CBJ to Chris Kreider only. That doesn't mean the Jarmo isn't working an offer that no one knows about. There are others on the board that are intriguing like Athanasiu (DET), Hoffman (FLA), Drouin (MON) and Gaudreau. The issue with any of these guys in price. The Jackets have the cap space, but shouldn't give up big futures to get them.
With the play of all the young guys it is hard to say what the Jackets need. A talented winger with scoring touch...but Cam is coming back this week. A number 1 center...isn't that what PLD has blossomed into? Top line D...nope, already have them. Secondary scoring and depth? You've seen what Columbus has been playing with lately, right? Primary scoring. Now there is what CBJ needs. But they may get that with a well rested and healthy Cam, Bjork and Anderson coming back.
My vote is to have a quiet trade deadline. Let others wheel and deal this year. Play with the guys who got you in this position and let the chips fall where they may. In no way am I advocating that Jarmo refuse all offers, but rather be prudent and calculated. He has always done that, but last year was willing to 'go all in' as they say. If another team wants to overpay for some of the CBJ depth I think you consider it. However, a first round pick from a playoff team doesn't necessarily have that much value if you are giving up NHL, or NHL ready assets.
This may be a boring deadline strategy, but the team on the ice is not. They are continuing to collect points. We saw last year that if you get in the playoffs anything can happen. Columbus has work ahead of them, but they seem to be banding together and getting the job done.
Tonight the Hurricane comes to town. This would be a huge win for the CBJ and would draw them even in points (but CAR would still have a game in hand) in the standings.
Good Luck and Go Jackets!