The Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled to score goals of late. Nick Foligno, Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson ... the list of forwards who are underperforming on the offensive side of the puck could almost encapsulate half of the team. To win games, the team is going to have to start scoring goals.
It is conceivable that the Blue Jackets pick up the slack. There is no way that Artemi Panarin is going to shoot 2% for the season, for instance. But to take the next step as a team, the Jackets need another playmaker in their top six. With Matt Duchene and Kyle Turris off the market (sad face), what are some other options for the Blue Jackets to add to the roster to bolster their goal scoring efforts?
One such option is Montreal Canadien Alex Galchenyuk. The Canadiens have struggled to start this season, stumbling to a 7-8-1 record. Galchenyuk has strugled as well, registering 4-2-6 in 16 games played with a -6 on the season. He has just 3 points in his last 5 games (1-2-3) and a Corsi% of just 49.7%. He has been rumored to be on the trading block already this season.
Regarding his contract, Galchenyuk is signed through the 2019-2020 season at a cap hit of $4.9 million, a relatively reasonable contract that will leave him as a Restricted Free Agent at the end.
Other Blue Jackets up for new contracts that season include Artemi Panarin, Tyler Motte , Lukas Sedlak , Zach Werenski , and Sergei Bobrovsky. That would be an expensive summer for the Blue Jackets, but that is why Jarmo is paid the big bucks - to make these pieces fit. EDIT: Galchenyuk’s deal expires the season following those contracts, so the contracts up for negotiation that summer would include Pierre-Luc Dubois, Josh Anderson, and Gabriel Carlsson. That is a much more manageable summer.
Galchenyuk scored 46 points, 56 points, and 44 points (in an injury shortened season) over the last three seasons. He also fills a need at center, where he is capable of playing (and the Blue Jackets need help). Could Alex Galchenyuk find a home here in Columbus?
What would it take to bring Galchenyuk to Columbus?
Montreal is rumored to want a top four defenseman as part of a return for Galchenyuk. Obviously, there is absolutely zero chance the Blue Jackets are trading one of Zach Werenski or Seth Jones unless Connor McDavid is coming back, so let’s just strike that idea right now. That leaves David Savard, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray, Markus Nutivaara, and Gabriel Carlsson as potential trade chips (I’m assuming Montreal is not looking for Scott Harrington to be a centerpiece of a trade like this). Jack Johnson is likely out because they’re not trading Galchenyuk for a player who is on an expiring deal.
David Savard is an interesting option. He has registered 2-3-5 in 16 games played for the Blue Jackets this season. Savard has a CF% of 48.5% this season despite playing extremely tough minutes this season, averaging a 56.6% defensive zone start time. Savard is also under team control through the 2020-2021 season at a cap hit of just $4.25 million per season. A cap friendly contract for a shutdown defenseman that can contribute offensively (20+ points in each of the last 3 seasons) could make him an intriguing pickup for Montreal, a team that needs defensive help to prevent goals (having given up 57 already this season).
Montreal also is seeking scoring options and prospect depth because their pool is so thin. To this end, players like Markus Hannikainen and Kole Sherwood could be added to get the deal done. Hannikainen has performed well for Columbus in limited spurts while Sherwood is seen as one of the better prospects in the Blue Jackets pool. A nice story from New Albany, Sherwood also is somewhat expendable thanks to the presence of QMJHL MVP Vitaly Abramov. To further fill out their roster, Montreal could ask for a draft pick, but as they are not dealing from a position of strength, Jarmo might be able to skate without giving one up. If a draft pick is added, it will not be a first rounder, maybe a second or third.
Could this deal get done?
The Blue Jackets need help, either through playmaking or at center (preferably both). Galchenyk, despite a slow start to the season (and being moved out of his natural position and to the fourth line by Canadiens coach Claude Julien) has the skillset that the Blue Jackets are looking to add to the roster to take the next step.
Losing Savard would be difficult, but Ryan Murray is having a solid start to the 2017-18 season and could step up to play next to Jack Johnson. That would leave the team with a third pairing of Gabriel Carlsson and Markus Nutivaara, inexperienced but talented (with Scott Harrington as the seventh defenseman).
Losing Kole Sherwood would be a blow to the prospect pool, there’s no doubt about it. He is a local kid who has worked hard all through his development and projects to be a scorer at the NHL level (and may be ready in the next year or two). However, the opportunity to add a center with scoring skills who can contribute now is important. The presence of Vitaly Abramov also helps to negate this loss, as Abramov could eventually step in to take Cam Atkinson’s spot in the lineup. Abramov has put up 93 and 104 points in his last two seasons, and this year has registered 10-11-21 in just 14 games. He has more value than Sherwood going forward.
David Savard, Markus Hannikainen, Kole Sherwood, third round pick
Should the Blue Jackets make this trade? Is it enough for Montreal? Let us know in the comments!