The Blue Jackets Should Acquire Contracts In Exchange For Draft Picks With Their Remaining Cap Space

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 10, 2021 at 9:46 am
GM Jarmo Kekalainen speaks to the media.

The Blue Jackets are in a good spot.

It's August 10th, and they already have all of their restricted free agents signed. Even with everyone being signed, the Blue Jackets still have the luxury of cap space. After defenseman Andrew Peeke signed a two-year deal yesterday, the Blue Jackets were officially done with their RFA negotiations, and they still have $10.4 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.

There's still some time before the season, so GM Jarmo Kekalainen may not be done making moves. He certainly has the flexibility to do so. CapFriendly currently projects seven teams to be over the salary cap: Tampa Bay, Dallas, Montreal, Edmonton, Chicago, Toronto, and Vegas. As teams continue to negotiate with their restricted free agents, more clubs may find themselves over the cap. 

That brings us to the opportunity for Kekalainen: acquire a contract in exchange for draft picks. The Blue Jackets should be more than willing to take on a bad contract for another team (within reason regarding the term, of course) in exchange for assets that will make them better down the road. Potential targets could include: 

  1.  G Mikko Koskinen, EDM (One year remaining at $4.5 million)
  2.  F Ryan Kesler, ANA (One year remaining at $6.875 million, has an eight-team NMC)
  3.  F Frans Nielsen DET (One year remaining at $5.25 million, has a ten-team NMC)
  4.  F Cal Clutterbuck, NYI (One year remaining at $3.5 million)

Let's face it: the Blue Jackets probably aren't going to be competing for a playoff spot this year. None of the players listed above would be with the club for more than this year, so it seems like a no-brainer to acquire their contracts for a year that will focus on the development of young players.

Kekalainen showed his ability to quickly acquire and flip draft picks during the 2021 NHL Draft when a second-rounder that he acquired from Chicago in the Seth Jones trade was immediately flipped to Carolina for defenseman Jake Bean. With the draft picks that he kept, he and the rest of the Blue Jackets front office executed an excellent draft that has the Blue Jackets well-poised for the future. 

Currently, the Blue Jackets are in good shape regarding the 2022 NHL Draft. They have two first-round picks, one second-round pick, one third-round pick, two fourth-round picks, one sixth-round pick, and one-seventh round pick. However, it never hurts to acquire more picks, especially when you can do it during a year when the Blue Jackets are unlikely to have significant success.

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