The Columbus Blue Jackets Are Well-Positioned To Weaponize Their Cap Space

By Dan Dukart on March 7, 2022 at 10:15 am
John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen
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With just two weeks to go until the NHL's trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets are well-positioned to be a key player. 

This isn't the place to debate whether or not the club should be buyers or sellers; it's clear that they're not contending this year and should treat their pending UFAs accordingly.

Instead, it's meant to illustrate how the Blue Jackets can take advantage of the fact that they have lots of one of the most important assets in the NHL - salary cap space.

Per CapFriendly, the Blue Jackets have the fifth-most 'projected cap space' in the NHL at $10,616,187, trailing only Ottawa, Anaheim, Detroit, and Buffalo. Like those other four teams, the Blue Jackets should be looking to weaponize their cap space by becoming a 'broker'. Essentially that means acquiring a player's contract (either directly or as a third-party), and, by doing a solid for another team, getting some sort of kickback in a trade.

This isn't the first time we've called for the Blue Jackets to make use of their excess space, as other teams have done to them in the past. In 2021, the San Jose Sharks were the third party to the Blue Jackets-Maple Leafs trade that sent Nick Foligno to Toronto. For taking on 50% of his salary cap hit, the Sharks were gifted a 4th round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Similarly, the Detroit Red Wings brokered a trade between the Blue Jackets and Lightning that sent David Savard to Tampa Bay, again recouping a 4th round pick for the hassle.

Due to the lack of salary cap increases caused by the pandemic, many contenders find themselves up tight against the cap. CapFriendly projects that more than half the league (18/32) has less than $1M in projected cap. 

Being well-positioned is just one piece of the pie. Finding a willing trade partner is another. And with more contenders with no flexibility than sellers with plenty, the opportunity should be there for the club to take on salary in exchange for future-looking assets. 

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