Like most hockey fans, I always love seeing Elliotte Friedman's "30 thoughts" columns - not only does he do a great job of capturing what's going on around the league, but he has a great ability to talk to players, coaches, and other sources to really give a feel for what players and organizations are thinking about.
20. Would not be surprised if Montreal is one of the teams in on Kerby Rychel, who may not be a Blue Jacket much longer. Columbus is looking for defencemen and is loaded with good, young forwards.
A 20-year-old two years removed from being a first-round pick is hard to find, so there's going to be a market. Rychel had concussion issues last season, but word is he's cleared.
Rychel, taken with the first round pick Columbus acquired from New York in the Rick Nash trade back in 2013, had a decent start to his pro career with the Falcons before a concussion ended his season back in February. He's got a ton of natural scoring talent, but as Friedman points out, the Jackets are plenty deep at forward - and Montreal could be looking at a cap crunch next season, with guys like Alex Galchenyuk, Nathan Beaulieu, and Brian Flynn coming off their entry level deals.
Rychel still being on his ELC will be cap friendly, and makes a lot of sense for the Habs, but it brings up the question of who Columbus might want back. P. K. Subban would be a cure for just about everything that ails the Blue Jackets' back end, but I don't expect Montreal to part with him any time soon.
Andrei Markov is interesting, but his injury history and age are both frightening - neither really make him a good fit here - and it seems like he wants to retire a Canadien.
Alexei Emelin is an interesting idea. At 28 he'd be one of the more seasoned guys in the locker room, and he's signed for another three years on a fairly cap-friendly deal ($4.1 million cap hit / season).
He's an excellent skater who hits hard and knows how to take opponents out of the play - which sounds pretty great for the style of play here in Columbus - but he's been inconsistent at times, and he's not really regarded as an offensive playmaker, which is more in line to what we need.
The only other guy who stands out to me is Jeff Petry, who is a pending UFA. He's another guy who has a great skating ability, and unlike Emelin he's demonstrated some pretty serious offensive chops. He's regarded as a hard worker and somewho who can drive the puck up ice with a will, though he's not necessarily the most physical guy. All things considered, I think that's a pretty tempting package for Jarmo and JD, but would he be available? After all, the Canadiens just traded for the guy.
Would they offer negotiating rights if he's not interested in staying in Quebec? Probably - after all, it worked out when they offered us the rights to talk to James Wisniewski - but a high end prospect like Rychel seems awfully steep for just the negotiating rights. The team would need to be very, very sure that he'd be willing to sign in Columbus, or they'd come out worse than they began.