There was fire to follow that smoke, after all.
The Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights connected on a significant deal surrounding the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, one that saw center William Karlsson and forward David Clarkson (his contract, at least) become members of the NHL’s newest club.
Columbus sent its 2017 first-round pick – No. 24 overall – to the Golden Knights, who selected Karlsson as their Blue Jackets addition in the expansion draft. Also, the Blue Jackets' 2019 second-round pick was traded to Vegas. No prospects were involved in the deal, contrary to previous reports.
With William Karlsson, LV gets David Clarkson with a 2017 first and a second.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 22, 2017
This trade, one of the most talked-about prior to its official announcement, allowed the Blue Jackets to retain the players they were most concerned about losing to Vegas, namely young forward Josh Anderson and goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
Korpisalo signed a two-year contract extension in early June worth a reported $1.8 million total; Anderson is a pending restricted free agent and the Blue Jackets would like to get him under contract sooner rather than later.
Acquiring Clarkson’s contract helps the Golden Knights, who are literally starting from scratch, get to the NHL’s salary cap minimum even if Clarkson does not play a game for them – which appears likely. The Blue Jackets move Clarkson’s $5.25 million cap hit off their books for the final three seasons of his contract, which frees up space for them to make a move or two this offseason.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen stated earlier this summer that he plans to pursue a “sniper” who can bring elite-level offense to their attack. The Blue Jackets didn’t have any trouble scoring goals in 2016-17, but management knows they need top-tier talent to compete with the likes of Washington and Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division on an annual basis.