The Columbus Blue Jackets are hanging around the Stanley Cup postseason by a thread, but the reality — one that's been known for a while — is that the team will not be buyers at the NHL trade deadline March 21st.
But they may not necessarily be full-on selling, either.
At 27-25-1, the Blue Jackets are above .500, but are on pace for just 85 points. The current last spot belongs to the Washington Capitals, who are 28-17-9 and on pace for 98 points. In other words: it's a longshot for Columbus to have a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With that in mind, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen will likely be getting plenty of calls on a number of players as the deadline nears — but while there are some calls he should take, there are others that he should send straight to voicemail that conveniently aren't checked until March 22nd.
Here is a second look at who may be on the way out:
Joonas Korpisalo has been linked to the Edmonton Oilers for months now, and more recently has been mentioned as a possible backup for the Vegas Golden Knights. In either event, it's inevitable that Korpisalo will be dealt to whichever team shows interest. The 27-year-old has shown, in the past, that he is capable of handling #1 goaltending duties — but the last two seasons have been straight-up bad for Korpi, this season especially. Let's put this next sentence by itself:
Of the 59 NHL goalies who have played in at least 20% of their teams games this season, Korpisalo ranks 59th in goals against average, 59th in save percentage, and 58th in low-danger shot save percentage, and 56th in goals saved above average.
In other words, Korpisalo is bad. The defense in front of him is well below-average, but that doesn't explain away the last two stats, and it certainly doesn't excuse being dead last in the two most noteworthy numbers for a netminder. Of course, he's struggled to stay healthy enough to even have a chance to rectify the trainwreck of a season, so there's that, too. There is a nanoscopic group of 5th Liners that remain foolhardy enough to believe that Korpisalo bears no responsibility for his multiple seasons of shortcomings, yet even they won't be surprised when his time wearing a CBJ sweater comes to an end.
Korpisalo is an unrestricted free agent, and with the club already having committed long-term to Elvis Merzlikins, Korpisalo will not be with the Blue Jackets this year. Trading him to a contender to see if he can reclaim what he's lost is the best move for him and for the Blue Jackets. He might be able to do it in another city, but he won't do it in Columbus. If Kekalainen can get a draft pick for him — in any round — he'll make the move.
Another unrestricted free agent, Domi got off to a great start this season: he tallied eight goals and nine assists in his first 26 games. He's cooled off since then, scoring just one goal and adding six assists in his last 17 games, but Domi's current season would extrapolate to a 46-point season over an 82-game season — certainly middle-six production that a team hoping for a deep run would be interested in.
Domi is benefitted by his age (26) and ability to play any of the forward positions, and several teams have reportedly reached out to check the asking price. In January, Elliotte Friedman of TSN recently suggested that the Boston Bruins were amongst the most interested, but any team in need of a secondary scoring threat with a load of grit may reach out to Kekalainen. St. Louis, Minnesota, and Colorado come to mind.
Nyquist may be one of the most underated players on the team. His solid, steady presence has been a blessing for the Blue Jackets, one of the youngest teams in the NHL. At 32 and the second-oldest Blue Jacket on the roster behind Jakub Voracek, his veteran leadership has been invaluable in Columbus.
But it could also be helpful for a younger team hoping to make a run. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after next season, so the commitment would not be long term. The New York Rangers fit this bill in a myriad of ways, but the Los Angeles Kings are just three points out of the Pacific Division lead and are top-heavy. A player like Nyquist could do either team a world of good in the spring.
In his first full season with the Blue Jackets, the Columbus native has shown flashes of brilliance — and an equal number of flashes of inconstancy. Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravelli suggested in January that Columbus is shopping Roslovic, and whether or not he's traded would not be a surprise either way. Of all skaters who are regulars in the lineup, not a single one averages fewer than Roslovic's 12:00 minutes of ice time per game.
The 25-year-old is a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will likely be asking for more than the $1.8 million he's making this season. With players like Kirill Marchenko and Kent Johnson on the way, it could be Roslovic who — for the second time in as many seasons — finds grass to be greener elsewhere.
Deadline Odds & Ends:
Patrik Laine will not be moved, and Alexandre Texier won't be moved either. The club is going in the right direction because of these two young players — rumors of their departures are just that.
On the flip side, has the play of defenseman Dean Kukan or — gasp — goaltender Jean-Francois Berube played them into the trade conversation? In Kukan's case, a team can never have enough defensemen come May, and while a trade for Berube would be nothing more than a depth move for a team, if a contender were to get the version of Berube that the Blue Jackets have seen in the last two weeks, why wouldn't they go for it?