The 1OB Roundtable: What Should the Blue Jackets Do This Offseason?

By 1OB Staff on May 26, 2017 at 7:26 am
Boone Jenner
Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets are coming off a 108-point season and the third playoff appearance in franchise history, but for the first time, there was a sour feeling going into the summer following a postseason berth.

After all they did in the regular season, the Blue Jackets were faced with the league's No. 2 club in the first round and that draw was a tough one. Now they look ahead, with the Vegas Golden Knights a few weeks from picking their team in the expansion draft and then the NHL Draft a week later.

Let's hear from Jeff Svoboda, Rob Mixer and Sam Blazer -- better known as the 1st Ohio Battery team -- to get their thoughts on the NHL's silly season.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. Which player do you think the Blue Jackets will lose to Vegas via the expansion draft?

JEFF: This is a very interesting question and could be a key to how the Blue Jackets attack the rest of the offseason. And we’re still dealing with incomplete information as the whole Scott Hartnell situation must be figured out. My hunch is the no-movement clause does get waived, especially since it seems unlikely Las Vegas would really be in the market for a 35-year-old forward making almost $5 million per year. If that gets figured out, I’m not sure the Golden Knights would take a forward from among Matt Calvert and William Karlsson. So I see the most likely choices either at defenseman (where either one of Ryan Murray or Jack Johnson will have to be exposed) and goaltender (where Joonas Korpisalo or Anton Forsberg could be a young goalie with upside for Vegas). Now that I’ve talked too much, my guess is the most value there is on defense, and Johnson is the most likely to be left unprotected. So short story long, it’s Johnson.

SAM: It’s a question that I’ve gone back and forth on many, many times. I disagree with Jeff that Hartnell waives his no-movement clause. I’d anticipate the Blue Jackets have to give up a pick to try and protect Anderson. He has been molded into a crown jewel and the “heat” around him as a player screams that they want to keep him as long as possible. William Karlsson and Matt Calvert will be available for the taking but I doubt either moves the needle. The area that seems the most ripe would be on defense. Jack Johnson with his expiring contract would be the smart player to expose. He is captain material for the Golden Knights and after a resurgent season in 2016-17, he could have some years left in those legs.

Johnson is my pick but the Golden Knights are going to do all they can to pry a solid forward from the Blue Jackets.

ROB: If you asked me a year ago, I probably would've said Jack Johnson. But the more I think about the season and consider what the Golden Knights could/should be targeting, I'm leaning toward them taking a forward. There are options, for sure, and they could surprise everyone and select one of the Blue Jackets' two young goaltenders...but I can't see them passing up a reliable, affordable center with some years of team control remaining. William Karlsson seems like a great fit for Vegas and coach Gerard Gallant could use him in all situations, and considering how difficult it is to find quality centers (especially at no asset cost, in this case), he's my pick.

If you were Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, how would you order improving/bolstering the defense, goaltending and forwards in order of importance?

RM: This is a tough one, but I can't shake the feeling that the Blue Jackets are an impact forward away from being really, really good. My order would be forwards, goaltending and defense; for the first time in a while, their blueline is in really good shape both now and going forward, and the goaltending is starting to take shape with the recent signing of Matiss Kivlenieks to an entry-level deal yesterday. If they can add some legitimate punch up front to supplement the Folignos, Wennbergs, Atkinsons and others, the Blue Jackets might have a chance to hang around the top of the Metropolitan Division once again.

JS: I’ve been banging this drum for a while but my honest answer is the goaltending. While Sergei Bobrovsky seems likely to win the Vezina, the backup spot was essentially a disaster last year, with the revolving door of Korpisalo, Forsberg and Curtis McElhinney leaving more questions than answers in the end. Given Bobrovsky’s history of injury and playoff struggles, having a legitimate NHL backup remains key, and that's still true after the Kivlenieks signing. From there, I’d say you can never have enough firepower at forward, and one could easily see the Blue Jackets trying to make a move there to bolster the top six. I think the defense is a real position of strength right now, though the depth takes a hit if Johnson ends up in Vegas. But as it stands right now, you have to feel good on the blue line.

SB: My order goes defense, goaltending, then forwards. As I stated above, I think it is likely that the Blue Jackets' defense is where the Golden Knights pluck a player. The top four of the defense should be fine, but the bottom pairing could be exploited if they aren’t careful. A mobile, right-handed veteran on defense would help out a bunch. They could likely pick up a reclamation project similar to Sam Gagner if they look hard enough.

While Korpisalo had a down year, I still believe in him as a backup goaltender. Forsberg in the AHL is a solid, solid player and they also have a fair amount of depth outside of the organization as well.

The Blue Jackets' forward group is definitely their strength, both on the roster and organizationally. They are going to be losing players to free agency ,but will be able to fill those holes easily with players from the Cleveland Monsters.

Bold prediction, bold takes, etc: name one player you would like to see the Blue Jackets acquire this summer.

SB: It isn’t a sexy pick, but if they can bring in a veteran defenseman like Cody Franson on the cheap, they could get a solid player with good offensive upside on their bottom pairing. Not to mention, on a one-year deal he could be fodder for a trade if a better option becomes available to the Blue Jackets.

A huge overhaul isn’t needed. Tinkering on slight weaknesses needs to take place – filling in cracks is a savvy, un-sexy move.

RM: They've had reported interest in this player before, but I really think Matt Duchene would be a great fit for the Blue Jackets. They won't be alone in pursuit if the Avalanche re-open the trade discussions this summer, but what team has assets to offer like Columbus? They have a handful of young forward prospects, some quality defensemen in the pipeline and a goaltending prospect or two....all which would be of interest to Colorado should they decide to move Duchene. Imagine Duchene in the No. 1 center role with Alexander Wennberg in the No. 2 hole with Brandon Dubinsky right behind him? That's depth that you can roll out against any team in the league.

JS: Alexander Ovechkin! Wait, we already addressed that. As Rob said earlier (and as I addressed in the Ovi piece), an impact forward is the one thing that could really help this Blue Jackets team reach that next level. Duchene seems to be a popular choice, as well, and I think it's really worth noting what Rob said – the Jackets right now are a very attractive trade partner given the young depth in the system. 

Let us know by leaving a comment or sending us a tweet @1stOhioBattery -- what's your ideal offseason for the Blue Jackets?


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