Potential Trade Chips Jarmo Kekalainen Can Cash In For The Columbus Blue Jackets By The Trade Deadline

By Will Chase on January 24, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets' Vladislav Gavrikov clears the puck from a Columbus Blue Jackets' Joonas Korpisalo save against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Who will stay and who will go?

With news coming out on Saturday that the Blue Jackets are allowing teams to have discussions with UFA-to-be defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, it seems more likely than not that Gavrikov will be among any Blue Jackets traded by the deadline.

While it's believed the team would like to keep Gavrikov long-term, it's basically a no-brainer when the return compensation can rival that of what the Blue Jackets received from the Tampa Bay Lightning for David Savard in the 2020-21 season.

Columbus needs to stockpile talent through the draft so more draft picks are not a bad thing. While the immediate need on the blue line will only grow with Gavrikov's potential departure, there is future help on the way with the recent draft picks, David Jiricek (five goals, 15 assists) in Cleveland, Denton Mateychuk (six goals, 39 assists) in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and Stanislav Svozil (five goals, 41 assists) with the WHL's Regina Pats, to name a few, plus the injured regulars.

It felt like last season might have been Joonas Korpisalo's last in a Blue Jackets sweater, but a tough year on the ice, coupled with season-ending hip surgery, ultimately led to the team keeping Korpisalo and bringing him back on a one-year contract.

This season has been quite the rebound for Korpisalo.

Though the team has only won 14 games in 47 tries, Korpisalo (7-8-2, .908 save percentage, 3.30 goals against average) has won half that total by himself. He's 17th in the league among all goaltenders with his 6.3 goals saved above expected at 5v5. Being able to get back to his pre-injury days has been a welcome sight for the netminder, and his performance this season will only help the team in trying to facilitate a trade for the UFA should Columbus look to move him.

Though this other goalie should arguably be playing in Cleveland, don't let the record fool you. Daniil Tarasov (2-9, .908 SV%, 3.28 GAA) has looked the part at the NHL level with a 2.3 GSAx (5v5). He would be the backup, or co-starter, with Elvis Merzlikins (5-13-0, .868 SV%, 4.48 GAA) in the event Korpisalo is dealt, and would absolutely be in the conversation as the starter for the team next season as Merzlikins tries to figure his way out of a season-long slump.

Merzlikins is in the first year of a five-year contract extension so the Jackets will look to do anything they can to solve his current season woes. He's last in the league among all goaltenders with a -21.0 GSAx (5v5). Goaltender data via Moneypuck.

Another UFA-to-be would be Gus Nyquist (10 goals, 12 assists) who is in the final year of a four-year deal signed in the summer of 2019. I made the case for a Nyquist trade last season when he still had a year of control, and he was in the middle of a resurgence following a lost season due to a labral tear.

The remaining Blue Jackets UFA include Gavin Bayreuther, Tim Berni, Carson Meyer, Mathieu Olivier, and Alexandre Texier who is playing overseas with ZSC Lions in France.

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