Jarmo Kekalainen spoke to the media today after the Blue Jackets made the following two trades:
Here are the four main things I took away from his media availability:
The Kings' First-round pick is on the table & the Jackets aren't done yet
Kekalainen made it clear that the Blue Jackets are not done making deals before Friday's 3 p.m. ET deadline.
"We keep working at it," Kekalainen said. "And definitely with the picks we have now as assets we were looking to make our team better not just be picking year after year. Obviously, our first pick is not going to be in play but the pick that we acquired and some of the future picks, that we have plenty of now, will be in play to try to improve our team next year but not just next year, into the future, into the same window where we see our young group developing into a playoff team and a playoff and cup contender."
Term was the biggest issue in the Vladislav Gavrikov contract negotiations
The Blue Jackets had scratched Gavrikov for "trade-related reasons" since Feb 14. before trading him Wednesday. One can assume that was because there was a trade on the table and/or the Jackets and Gavrikov were so far apart in negotiations that an extension was not going to happen.
"We tried for months," Kekalainen said. "It wasn't a gap [in salary] really. It was more about the term and we couldn't agree on it. So we had to make this decision."
Don't be surprised if Jonathan Quick doesn't play a game for the Blue Jackets
In the trade with the Kings, the Jackets acquired goaltender Jonathan Quick, who is a pending UFA. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff reported that Quick is not happy with the deal.
To say Jonathan Quick is unhappy with the trade, I'm told, is "an understatement."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 1, 2023
The entire #LAKings team was a bit down after the game, a win, and you could understandably see it in Anze Kopitar's face after a 4-goal night.
Tough deal, Kings trading a franchise legend.
"Well, we've been communicating with him and his agent," Kekalainen said. "And we have the utmost respect for him, his career, and his accomplishments. So we're gonna try to do the right thing and we'll stay in touch with him. And we still got plenty of time here. We'll see what happens."
The young players on the Blue Jackets may not go down to the AHL
With the Blue Jackets in the basement of the NHL standings and their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters, just one point out of a playoff spot with 21 games to go, it's not out of the realm of possibility that young players like Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, Tim Berni, and Kirill Marchenko could go down to Cleveland to try and win a Calder Cup. I asked Kekalainen about this possibility.
"We've talked about a lot of different things and what's best for the individuals, What's best for the Blue Jackets, and the Monsters," Kekalainen said. "Obviously, we want the Monsters to make the playoffs. And they certainly would have if we hadn't taken half of their team onto the ice with us. And it's been quite an interesting process for [Monsters GM] Chris Clark and the team in Cleveland because they were doing so well before we started having our injuries and took half of their lineup like I said, so. Now we still need 20 guys on the ice for the Blue Jackets every game and that's the tough part of it. But we're certainly looking at all the different options and what's best for the individuals. And for both teams."
Kekalainen's full media availability can be viewed in the embedded link below.
A reminder that the NHL trade deadline is on Friday at 3 p.m. ET.