The Blue Jackets will have some new faces come October.
We're a month or so away from learning the definite fates of Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene, but we're less than a month away from the NHL Draft – annually a source of player movement via trades. It marks the beginning of the league's silly season.
The Blue Jackets are reportedly examining the possibility of sign-and-trade deals with Panarin or Bobrovsky (possibly both), which would be the first of their kind in the NHL. It appears to be their only hope to recoup some assets for their two stars, after opting to retain them at the trade deadline.
With the potential for a few players going out the door comes the next discussion: who will replace them?
And while we've yet to hear too many names floating in the rumor mill, one has been consistent: Nashville's Kyle Turris. The veteran center hasn't been directly linked to the Blue Jackets, but he presents an intriguing option as GM Jarmo Kekalainen looks externally to fill holes in his roster. Turris was acquired by the Predators in a trade with Ottawa back in 2017, and at the time, was thought to be the team's No. 2 center behind Ryan Johansen, giving Nashville one of the best 1-2 punches in the Western Conference.
At times, he's been really good. And at others, he's clashed with coach Peter Laviolette and was a healthy scratch late in 2018-19. Turris' play improved during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Predators were a massive disappointment, bowing out in the first round.
Turris signed a six-year, $36 million extension ($6 million AAV) shortly after being traded to the Predators, so he doesn't come with a small price tag and any acquiring team would be on the hook. But the Blue Jackets would do well to examine this possibility – the skill is clearly still there, but the fit may not be as good in Nashville as it was before.
Turris soon turns 30 years old and is under contract through 2023-24, but here's the good news: he was a 50-plus point player in the five seasons before 2018-19, when he dipped to seven goals and 23 points in 55 games, missing a chunk of time due to injury as well.
Another encouraging sign? Turris seemed re-energized at the IIHF World Championships in Slovakia, where he captained Team Canada was a point-per-game player with four goals and six assists in 10 games.
The Athletic's Adam Vingan has covered Turris' season thoroughly and believes he is available in trade talks. He also listed a recent quote from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, who speculated that Turris is on his way to boosting his value – whether it's to the Predators or another NHL team.
“I have a conspiracy theory on Kyle Turris, and that is that there’s a reason he was made the captain of Team Canada,” Sportsnet analyst Elliotte Friedman recently said on the “31 Thoughts” podcast. “Everybody knows that he didn’t have a great year, and I think they’re hoping it can kickstart him. I think people know that he could be available. Centers are hard to find. I think it’s very, very interesting that he was named the captain of Team Canada. You look at that team, there were a lot of choices. I think that they were hoping this would motivate him.”
On the surface, it makes some sense if the Blue Jackets had interest in Turris.
A lot depends on their ability to get a deal done with Duchene, though they won't know definitively until free agency opens (or during the negotiating period). In the meantime, you can bet they're doing due diligence on several players, and Turris wouldn't be the worst of their options.