The 2013 NHL trade deadline has passed and the Columbus Blue Jackets made one of the slowest deadlines in recent history an exciting one, with three late deals. These deals showed that the Jackets are committed to a playoff run this season, without mortgaging the future.
Most of the high-profile trades took place prior to today, with Jarome Iginla going to the Penguins, Jaromir Jagr to the Bruins, and Jay Bouwmeester to the Blues. Leading up to the deadline, Jussi Jokinen to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a conditional seventh-rounder was the highlight, before a deal that saw the Ottawa Senators pick up Cory Conacher and a fourth from Tampa Bay for goaltender Ben Bishop gave trade junkies hope for late activity.
The final hour saw the deadline being flipped on its head, with Jason Pominville going from Buffalo to Minnesota, and Columbus General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen taking the Blue Jackets from playoff question mark to playoff contender.
Though in the grand scheme of things the Pittsburgh Penguins have to be considered the team that has improved the most in recent days, the Blue Jackets are clearly the winners of deadline day.
- The first deal to be announced saw goaltender Steve Mason go to Philadelphia for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick in 2015. Before the details of the deal were announced, my initial thoughts were two-fold: why would a team give up an asset, any asset, for Mason; and man, we just screwed Springfield. To my amazement, not only did the Flyers ship a goaltender to Columbus, they also coughed up a decent future draft pick as well. Leighton allows Springfield to keep Curtis McElhinney on the roster, and if things don't work out he's an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
- The biggest deal of the day come down minutes later, when it was reported that the Jackets added winger Marian Gaborik, Steve Delisle and Blake Parlett in exchange for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a 2014 6th rounder. I've been advocating a Brassard trade for weeks now, Moore has been a frequent healthy scratch, and Dorse, while a true warrior and fan favorite, is replaceable.
It remains to be seen how Brassard will react to the John Tortorella factor, but he has a chance to play with Rick Nash again and may be rejuvinated in Manhattan. With the emergence of Dalton Prout and Tim Erixon, and with Ryan Murray on the way next year, Moore became expendable. It really says something about Columbus' terrible drafting record when Murray and Ryan Johansen are the only remaining first round picks in the organization. Ranger fans are going to love Dorse as much as we all did. He'll be missed.
Adding a sniper of Gaborik's caliber shows a real committment to winning now. Though he has issues with injuries, when healthy he is one of the best pure goal-scorers in the league. He comes with a hefty price tag at $7.5 million per year, but is only under contract for one more season after this year. Gabby has played with Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky in the past as well, when the four were members of the Rangers.
Unlike the last time the Jackets traded for a star forward (see: Carter, Jeff) this time around Gaborik isn't a risk to bitch and whine, as he chose to waive his no-trade clause to move to Columbus. He was flattered that the Jackets wanted him on the team, and will come to the Jackets with a positive attitude.
Delisle and Parlett are AHL/ECHLers included to balance out the numbers under the roster limit. Both are RFAs at season's end.
- The final deal the Jackets pulled off saw the Jackets acquire winger Blake Comeau from the Flames, in exchange for a 2013 fifth-rounder. Comeau is a UFA after this season, making him a depth rental as the Jackets move toward the playoffs. I've always been a fan of Comeau from his days on Long Island, and a change of scenery from the rebuilding Flames to a team in the thick of the playoff chase could give him a boost.
Perhaps the best part of the day was that the Jackets didn't part with a first or second rounder, allowing them to continue with the rebuilding process. Gaborik gives them a star to build around, while getting out from under the Mason contract (and picking up a good draft pick) is nothing but a positive.
How about the look of the new forward corps:
This is truly a new era for the Blue Jackets and their fans!