Today is one of the most anticipated on the NHL calendar: Trade Deadline Day! Fans of contenders dream of their teams acquiring that one missing piece that will lead them to a Cup. Fans of bottom dwellers brace themselves for theirs getting trade, and take solace in the hope of prospects and draft picks.
Of course, often the day is a disappointment. Sometimes teams make a series of minor trades, or none at all. Big names stay put (like Erik Karlsson last year). The deadline can be spoiled by big trades happening earlier.
Which brings us to our recap of what GM Jarmo Kekalainen has done already. He started with a bang, trading Blake Seibenaler to Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick. Hard to top that, but boy did he ever by acquiring Matt Duchene from Ottawa for two prospects, a first round draft pick, and a conditional first round draft pick. A day later, the Blue Jackets made another trade with the Senators as they sent Anthony Duclair and two second picks up north for former Buckeye Ryan Dzingel.
Here are some national takes about what went down:
“‘It’s about time’: Small-market Blue Jackets suddenly an NHL alpha dog” by John Matisz, The Score
“Duchene, Dzingel trades show how much Blue Jackets want playoff success” by Tom Gulitti, NHL.com
“Bold moves by Blue Jackets show they are ‘serious about winning’” by Pierre LeBrun, The Athletic
What should we look for today?
- Will Artemi Panarin be traded?
I understand the logic here. Fans are concerned with the the assets given away this weekend and want to recoup some draft picks and other long term pieces. With Duchene and Dzingel off the market, there is scarcity of game-changing forwards on the market, so Panarin’s value has gone up. He will not come cheap. Jarmo’s price has always been high, and it has gone up:
“As I’ve said, it would take a lot of sense not only in the long term but in the short term as well to make that kind of trade,” Kekalainen said. “We’re not trading Artemi Panarin for draft picks. … We want to try to win, and while draft picks are valuable, we have some time to get some back and we’ll work on them later.”
Getting a current NHL back in addition to draft picks seems an impossible demand. That’s absolutely what the Jackets should ask for, but I don’t think any team will pay it. And that’s OK! The last two games have been fun and I would love to see Panarin play with Duchene for a few more months.
It’s hard to get better in both the short term and long term. Duchene and Dzingel are about short term success, as is keeping Panarin and Bobrovsky. Trading Panarin can help the franchise in the future, but there’s no way that trade doesn’t make the team worse than they are this morning.
- Will we acquire a defenseman?
Ryan Murray is currently on the IR. In other news, grass is green and water is wet. Expect Columbus to acquire a player similar to last year’s Ian Cole: a veteran defenseman on an expiring contract who can fill in on either the second or third pair. Anything to avoid icing a Scott Harrington/Dean Kukan third pair in the playoffs.
Making things difficult is the injuries to Pittsburgh defensemen Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin. The Pens are more desperate so may outbid the Jackets for their targets.
- Is Alexander Wennberg on the trading block?
Despite well-documented struggles, Wennberg avoided a Torts healthy scratch - until Friday night in Ottawa due to the arrival of Duchene. Wennberg did not play on Saturday, either, leading some to speculate that he could be on the move.
I am wary of trading Wennberg. He is still young. He is signed for four more years at a reasonable price for a second line center. He is having the worst season of his career, but it’s reasonable to expect that he can return to form next season. He has already been playing better over the last month.
My biggest concern is what a Wennberg trade would do to our center depth if Duchene is not re-signed.
This is your open thread for all of Monday’s activity. Post rumors and trade announcements in the comments and discuss them here. We will create separate articles for each Columbus move as it happens.