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Trade Proposal: Let’s make a deal with Toronto

We need an elite forward; they need another standout defender

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Welcome to Trade Week at The Cannon. We’ll be sharing our ideas for deals that GM Jarmo Kekalainen can pursue to further improve the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup. Some will be bold while others may be more in the realm of practicality. Enjoy!

For my trade proposal, I’m taking a “go big or go home approach.” Strap in.

As we all know, the Blue Jackets are in desperate need of a dynamic, playmaking forward to replace Artemi Panarin. It just so happens that one of them is out there and available: Mitch Marner. He is looking for a big payday and the Toronto Maple Leafs are short on cap space. It is believed that if anyone may sign an offer sheet, it’s him. The New York Islanders appear to be the most likely ones to do it, but the Blue Jackets also have the cap space. It would cost us a lot of money and draft picks, but we’re talking about a 22 year old who put up 94 points last year. Do it and be legends.

One major draw back: the Blue Jackets also still need to re-sign their own RFA, Zach Werenski. A cap hit to Marner for around $10.5M would leave the Jackets with just $5.2M of cap space. A team could offer him $6M a year and the Jackets could not match. So, would you be willing to lose Werenski and four first round picks in return for Marner and, say, a first, second, and third round draft picks? (See here for the compensation levels)

Solution: let’s make a trade first. Columbus needs forward help and Toronto could use another young, near-elite blue liner. Neither is able to give up - or unwilling to give up - the draft picks necessary for offer sheets. So, let’s trade the players for each other.

Of course, Marner is a better player than Werenski and will cost more to sign. Evolving Wild’s projections have Marner making nearly $3 million more per year than Werenski. So we can throw in the 2020 first round pick that we retained when Matt Duchene signed elsewhere. On the flip side, Toronto still needs cap relief and Columbus still has space. Therefore we can make some more player trades.

Side Note: I know some will take issue with me trading Werenski. Let me clear that I do not think that the Blue Jackets should be shopping him. A 21 year old with 128 points in three seasons (half that time spent suffering or recovering from a busted shoulder) does not grow on trees. Thanks to the luxury of having Seth Jones as well, however, Werenski could be just the piece needed to acquire the elite forward we desperately need. But only for a truly special player like Marner.

Enter William Nylander. The Swedish forward put up 61 points in each of this first two full seasons as a Maple Leave. His RFA negotiations last summer did not go well, and he missed the first two months of the season before signing on the last possible day. Is that water under the bridge, or does any bitterness remain between the team and the player? Not helping the issue is Nylander’s poor stats after rejoining the team: just seven goals and 20 assists in 54 games. On the plus side, he won 55.2% of faceoffs and had a Corsi of 56.8%. He shot an abysmal 5.4% on his shots on goal, versus a career percentage of just under 10.

What to send back? How about a young, improving, criminally underpaid power forward? Josh Anderson would save Toronto around $5.1M off the cap from Nylander. The resulting $8.8M in space would be more than enough to re-sign Werenski. Go ahead and throw in Sonny Milano as another cheap forward in need of a change of scenery (I came up with this idea prior to his incident over the weekend).

Nylander and Marner put Columbus right up against the cap but perhaps another move could be made to move a guy like Wennberg or Riley Nash.

Final trade offer:

Toronto receives: Zach Werenski, Josh Anderson, Sonny Milano, 2020 CBJ 1st round pick

Columbus receives: Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and let’s say either the 2020 TOR 2nd round pick, or the 2020 CBJ 3rd round pick (which was sent to Ottawa for Ian Cole, and sent to Toronto in the Cody Ceci trade.

The Columbus lines could look like this:

Nyquist/Nylander/Wennberg (the Blue Swede line)


Will this happen? Absolutely not. Should it? I’ll let you decide. Vote here, and give your own suggestions below for how we could get either Marner or Nylander (or both!)


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