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CBJ and the NHL Event Calendar - All Star Game, trade deadline, draft and free agency

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Read what the Jackets should do at the upcoming major events on the NHL calendar.

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All Star Game

-          You've all seen the sweaters by now, and I've yet to see somebody come straight out and say that they love them. I've seen comments like "hey, at least they're edgy", or "these are neat". Put me among those who think they are atrocious. I like pushing the envelope with sweaters, but there has to be some tie-in (colors at least) with the host team.

-          Make Foligno one of the All-Star captains for the fantasy draft. This event has actually become a very cool part of the weekend. Who can forget poor Phil Kessel sitting by himself at the end of the draft the first time this format was used? Ovechkin couldn't help but laugh and snap a pic on his phone.

-          Speaking of Ovechkin, I wonder what he has in store for the shootout competition portion of the skills event? He and Patrick Kane have pulled off some fun moves (props included) in the past. This is an event which has all the potential in the world, if the players can let loose and have fun with it.

-          The skills competition is by far the best part of the weekend. With no Zdeno Chara, who is Shea Weber's biggest threat for the hardest shot? Dustin Byfuglien comes to mind.

-          This event is a prime opportunity for Ryan Johansen to really cement himself as an NHL star. With all eyes watching, I expect big things from him.

-          Folks- cross your fingers that Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning-injured last night- will be healthy enough to participate in this game. He's easily one of the best stories in the league this year, and he's so deserving of a chance to get in the spotlight.

-          It's been talked about before, but what if the NHL held the All Star Game outside? The skills should remain in the home rink, because you want the intimacy with the players, but the game itself could always use a boost. Replacing the Stadium Series with the All-Star Game would do just that.

Trade Deadline

-          Jarmo- stand pat. There's no need to trade current or future assets to improve the club this season. What this team needs more than anything is a healthy roster. On paper, it's well-balanced. I wouldn't be against trading for future assets though, as long as it doesn't deplete from what's already in the organization too dearly. Cam Atkinson and Matt Calvert are the two notable remaining free agents at the end of the season- could one get moved? Cam's value is higher, but how much would he fetch in return? The fact he hasn't spent any significant time on Johansen's wing makes me wonder what the team thinks of him long-term.

-          Something that wouldn't shock me in the least would be the trade of a blueliner on a long-term deal. Teams like the Oilers who struggle in free agency would probably love to add a Fedor Tyutin or Jack Johnson. The Oilers did just pick up an extra first rounder in the David Perron trade, so that, plus a young forward (Nail Yakupov reclamnation project?) could start the conversation.

-          Last year, Nick Schultz was added as veteran depth. With the moves to add Jordan Leopold and Kevin Connauton, I don't think the team will need to add a player of that ilk. The rest of the roster has last season's series against Pittsburgh to draw experience from as well.

NHL Draft

-          Yep, I'm talking draft. Assuming the Oilers win the draft lottery, the Jackets are currently picking sixth, in what is a very strong draft. Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin are a lock to go 1-2-3. Four through ten is where things get interesting: Oliver Kylington and Zach Werenski are two high-end blueliners, a position of need in the prospect pipeline. Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner and Lawson Crouse are three very different, but very talented forwards. Pavel Zacha and Mikko Rantanen are two big, skilled forwards who would help the team immensely. If things stay as they are, put me down for Kylington, Werenski or Rantanen- in that order.

-          If Kylington gets drafted by the Jackets, he'll join Ryan Murray, David Savard, Cody Goloubef, Dillon Heatherington, Mike Reilly, Ryan Collins, Austin Madaisky, Olivier Leblanc and  Blake Siebenaler as the next wave of young blueliners in the organization.

Free Agency

-          The free agent crop is relatively weak this upcoming summer, so if the team will potentially have to look elsewhere to replace Nathan Horton. Jaromir Jagr, Chris Stewart, Justin Williams and Antoine Vermette headline the available forwards. There is one option I like- Carl Soderberg. He's quietly having a solid season in Boston, and would look damned good in Columbus.