There is no shortage of players that could be dealt this offseason by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s a near lock that Josh Anderson will be on the move. Many also expect Columbus to trade one of their two talented goalies in exchange for some scoring help. The depth of the blue line could be sacrificed in exchange for a forward by moving David Savard or Ryan Murray, amongst others. If necessary, even a “heart of the team” player such as Boone Jenner could be dealt be as part of a larger package.
Any of these potential deals could send the Columbus faithful into Stanley Cup euphoria, or to the other extreme, more of a “what are we doing?!” misery. Certainly, the Blue Jackets have a history of both.
Erring on the side of optimism, one of these potential deals may prove itself to go down as one of the best the team has ever made. But what are those as of today?
Here are the five best trades in franchise history:
June 20th, 2008: Columbus acquires RJ Umberger and a 4th round draft pick (#118; Drew Olson) from Philadelphia in exchange for a 1st round pick (#19; Luca Sbisa) and a 3rd round pick (#67; Marc-Andre Bourdon)
Columbus was not ready to contend for a Stanley Cup before or after this deal, but it was an excellent trade for a few reasons. For one, it gave a degree of satisfaction to a struggling fanbase by going out and getting not only a solid NHL player, but one that was familiar to Columbus as a former Ohio State Buckeye.
Columbus didn’t have to part with anyone to get him, either. Yes, a first round draft pick is certainly not cheap, but we don’t know how that would have played out. The Flyers used the pick to select defenseman Luca Sbisa. While he wasn’t a dud, he’s been an NHL journeyman over the last decade, playing for the Flyers, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Vegas Golden Knights, New York Islanders, and most recently the Winnipeg Jets. 20 goals, 93 assists, and a -18 +/- over 548 games is nothing to get excited about.
For what it’s worth: Tyler Ennis, John Carlson, Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Eberle, Roman Josi, Jake Allen, Derek Stepan were taken later in the round or in the second round, but there’s no guarantee that Columbus would have taken them.
Instead, Columbus *did* pick up Umberger – who missed exactly zero games in his first three seasons with Columbus, only five in his 4th season, and put up 20 or more goals *and* 20 or more assists in each of those four seasons. Even when he was traded in 2014, Columbus was able to get another serviceable NHL’er (Scott Hartnell) in return for him.
July 23rd, 2012: Columbus trades Rick Nash, Steve Delisle, and a third round pick (#75; Pavel Buchnevich) to the New York Rangers in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a first round pick (#19; Kerby Rychel)
It was heart-breaking for most folks to see the most talented player in franchise history (at the time) moved in an off-season deal. Rick Nash was the captain of the team, put butts in the seats, and was synonymous with Columbus hockey for many years.
He also gave us what had to be one of the niftiest goals in franchise history:
Losing a player like Nash is never going to feel good, but Columbus really did get about the best deal they could for him given the circumstances. It also helped frame a rebuilding process that has been successful thus far.
June 23rd, 2017: Columbus acquires Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte, and a 6th round pick (#170; Jonathan Davidsson) from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, and a 2018 5th round pick (#142; Michael Callahan)
This would be the unquestioned number one trade in team history, but keep in mind that Panarin would play only two seasons with Columbus before the big city (and a bigger garage, apparently) would reel the most talented skater in franchise history away from the roster. Columbus had tons of depth between the pipes, so dealing Forsberg was nothing more than a minor inconvenience. Brandon Saad was (and is) a good NHL player, but didn’t mesh well with John Tortorella and was not a fit in the long term plans.
And yet somehow, the front office was able to turn those two spare parts (and a draft pick) into the 2016 Calder Trophy winner (and Motte and Davidsson). Columbus made the postseason both years, with Breadman, including a sweep of the record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning to advance past the first round for the first time in team history last season. Oh, and only one Blue Jacket has put up 80 points in a season more than once. Panarin in 2017-18, and Panarin again in 2018-19.
July 1st, 2012: Columbus acquired Nick Foligno from the Ottawa Senators for Marc Methot.
The only one-for-one swap on the list was this seemingly minor deal made in the 2012 offseason. Ottawa was looking to bolster their struggling defense and turned to Methot for much-needed help. Columbus had recently acquired Jack Johnson, just traded for Sergei Bobrovsky (more on that below), and general manager Scott Howson wanted to add a forward that could add toughness and the ability to score. Foligno was fresh off a career-high 47 points with the Sens, but was bounced around between the bottom three lines and was labeled as inconsistent.
While there is a valid argument to be made that consistency has never been his strong suit, acquiring a future long-term captain who has piled up over 300 points with the team (135 goals and 183 assists in 557 games) was certainly worth, with all due respect, Marc Methot.
There’s also this memory:
June 22nd, 2012: Columbus acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for 2nd and 4th round picks (#45, Anthony Stolarz and #117, Taylor Leier) and a 2013 4th round pick (#103, Justin Auger)
How can it be anyone else? A pair of Vezina’s, over a half decade of reliable goaltending, postseason appearances more often than not, and brought respect to the franchise. Over seven seasons, Bob won 213 games in 374 starts, had a goals against average of 2.41 (and never averaged worse than 2.75), picked up nearly three dozen shutouts (33). The Blue Jackets made four postseason appearances in his seven seasons, including each of the last three, and again, he shut down one of the most dynamic offenses in recent memory in the 2018-19 postseason with a sweep of the Lightning.
The often forgotten part of this trade is that Columbus got him for basically nothing. Stolarz, Leier, and Auger have played a combined 83 games in their careers, with limited results. A majority of those games (55) came from Leier, who scored just twice over three broken seasons with the Flyers.
No question about it: Getting Bob turned this franchise around, and it’s the best trade in Columbus Blue Jackets history.
Agree? Disagree? Avoid five for fighting, but argue your take in the comments!