Blue Jackets Have the Ability to Make Moves Heading into the 2017 Offseason

By Jeff Svoboda on May 30, 2017 at 7:24 am
Matt Duchene could be an interesting trade option for Columbus.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a conversation with Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said the team will look to add a sniper or a No. 1 center this offseason.

In the sniper realm, we looked at some young internal options the Jackets have when it comes to filling up the net in the future. 

But if the Blue Jackets want to look outside of the organization to add some high-level forward depth, that, of course, won't come easy. 

We wrote about the very unlikely but intriguing possibility of trying to acquire a bona fide sniper like Alexander Ovechkin, but the reality is even if the Blue Jackets aim a little lower – say, Colorado center Matt Duchene, the subject of many an NHL trading block rumor – the team will have to give up a fair amount. 

Kekalainen told Friedman he knows that, and simply won't make a move giving up young talent just to make a move.

"We are not thinking short-term," the general manager said. "Our window is not just open now. We are only cracking the window."

Translating that, the Blue Jackets won't make a panic move to help now that will hurt down the line. Having said that, Columbus does seem uniquely positioned among NHL teams to make a deal if the right one presents itself.

Not only does the club have much of its 2017-18 roster under contract, the team has developed its prospect pool to the point it could part with a young, talented player and still not feel like it has mortgaged the future. Names like Oliver Bjorkstrand, Sonny Milano, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Kole Sherwood, Keegan Kolesar, Vladislav Gavrikov, Gabriel Carlsson and Vitaly Abramov, just to name a few, are youngsters with less than 40 games of NHL experience who have high future ceilings and are Columbus property.

While many of those names are forwards, Friedman pointed out Columbus is deep enough at defense it could trade from that spot to help the forward group. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones looked like the makings of an elite duo this past season, while Jack Johnson and David Savard were steady as a rock in 2016-17. All four of those players are under contract for the upcoming season along with Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, Scott Harrington and Carlsson, and there's still the potential for Gavrikov to sign rather than spend his upcoming season in his native Russia.

With all that in mind, Kekalainen told Friedman he won't compromise the depth there, especially after the defensive unit played as much a part in Columbus' goal-scoring last year as the forwards.

"Every good offensive team starts from the defence to move up the ice,"  he said. "We will not easily give up that strength. It affects how many goals we score."

Kekalainen also made it clear he doesn't expect the salary camp to limit the team. According to, the Blue Jackets currently have just over $70 million in payroll committed for next season, under the threshold which is expected to be anywhere between $73 and $77 million next season.

"I have zero concerns," Kekalainen told Friedman. "Every year people are so concerned about our cap. Last year they thought we’d have serious problems. We didn’t. I expect zero problems next year."

So there you have it. It appears Columbus will make a move if the right one presents itself, but it has to be the right one. And this is an enviable spot for an organization that now has more depth and options than perhaps at any time in franchise history.



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