This offseason might get wild. It also might be boring.
You never know, and that's part of the fun. How's that for hedging a bet, by the way?
We know this: the Blue Jackets need an infusion of skill to upgrade their scoring struggles. Since 2017-18, Columbus is 21st in the NHL in goals per game (2.87) and only one team in their division, the New Jersey Devils, has averaged fewer. That's a tough road to navigate with an even thinner margin for error.
The Blue Jackets averaged 2.4 goals per game in this year's Stanley Cup tournament, which is part of the reason they bowed out in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
So, this is an important time for Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who is tasked with providing his offense a glow-up just in time to get right back at it again (hopefully) sometime in January. With a flat salary cap, there may be some players that spring loose and give Kekalainen a chance to swoop in.
The Calgary Flames don't necessarily have cap issues, but they're a team that may be looking to shake things up. Their young score has stagnated and their postseason success has been limited, and they could use an upgrade in goal as well. Columbus happens to have assets to curb that concern, which could be the starting point for a deal.
On the Flames side, two players that jump off the page are Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau. Monahan has a modified no-trade clause (it's a 10-team list starting in 2020-21, according to CapFriendly) while Gaudreau's contract does not contain any trade protection.
It's also been reported by The Athletic's Aaron Portzline that Calgary has "significant interest" in Josh Anderson, who says he wants to remain with the Blue Jackets but is seeking a long-term deal. Tough to see a resolution there, honestly.
This is pure speculation and spitballing, of course, but it seems like a combination of Monahan/Gaudreau, one of the Blue Jackets' goalies, and potentially Anderson could be the foundation of a trade. Both Calgary players come with a price tag – Monahan's cap hit is $6.375M annually through 2022-23, while Gaudreau is signed at $6.75M against the cap through 2021-22.
Both guys are skilled (Monahan is a natural center) and Gaudreau is instant offense, whether it's at even strength or on the power play. You may know the Blue Jackets' power play needs some help, too.
It would be difficult for the Blue Jackets to part with one of Elvis Merzlikins or Joonas Korpisalo, but in a flat-cap world with little wiggle room, many teams will have to give to get.