The Columbus Blue Jackets need skill up front, preferably in the form of a top six quality center.
That sentence could have been written at any point in the past 20 years of the franchise and it would be true, but it feels even more true this summer. After a playoffs in which the Columbus Blue Jackets meekly bowed out in five games to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nowhere on the ice was the disparity more evident than the forward group, particularly down the middle. After Pierre-Luc Dubois, none of Columbus’ centers played much of a factor in the offensive end.
For the Jackets to take the next step, that has to change. Max Domi could be the guy to help change the offense.
Max Domi Stats
Games played: 71
Shooting percentage: 9.5%
Games played: 375
Shooting percentage: 10.2%
With the postseason emergence of Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Domi appears to be on the way out of Montreal. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin did not guarantee that Domi would be sticking around
“He’s better suited to answer regarding his performance,” said Marc Bergevin on Max Domi. “Max has a lot of potential. I can’t speak for his future. He’s an rfa for two more years...”— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) August 22, 2020
It sounds like Domi, coming off of a difficult postseason where he had no goals and just three assists in ten games, has run out of time in Montreal.
Max Domi Contract Status
Max Domi is a restricted free agent who is arbitration eligible this summer. He is coming off of a two year bridge deal that saw him make $3.15 million against the cap each season.
It goes without saying that a trade for Domi would be contingent on him signing a long term deal in Columbus. Trading for him without agreeing to an extension and allowing him to walk after one year would be catastrophic asset management.
Complicating this matter is that Domi has reportedly fired his now-former agent Pat Brisson and hired Darren Ferris. Negotiations between the Blue Jackets and Ferris clients have been contentious over the years, dating back to Ryan Johansen and Josh Anderson.
What is Montreal Looking For?
The Habs’ defence, backed by Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, and Jeff Petry, could always use an upgrade. Even if it may make Victor Mete, Xavier Ouellet or possibly playoff standouts Brett Kulak and Ben Chiarot expendable, and it could put less pressure on Alexander Romanov when he eventually joins the squad. But the more pressing need for the Canadiens is on the wing, specifically a finisher.
The team is coming off a series where they were frustrated by a defensive Philadelphia Flyers team (whose higher-profile players like Claude Giroux struggled to score).
A defenseman and a finisher seem to be on the wish list for the Canadiens. Could Columbus be a potential fit? It seems likely.
What Could Columbus Offer?
Columbus boasts a finisher they could offer in Josh Anderson. While he is coming off an injury-riddled season and reportedly has reached the end of his time in Columbus, he was an absolute force for the team in the 2018-19 season. That year, Anderson posted a 27-20-47 line with a whopping 22 of those goals coming at even strength. His combination of size, toughness, and speed bring a dimension to the Canadiens offense that they sorely lack.
In addition, Montreal is looking for defensive help. While they are full on the right side, they could use left side help. Despite his injury history, Ryan Murray has been excellent when he’s played. His name has been floated in trade rumors, according to Aaron Portzline.
Another NHL club would need to get past the “buyer beware” concern in acquiring Murray, who has been beset by a chronic back injury. But if they believe they could manage the injury better than Columbus, perhaps there’s a green light.
Both players are coming off of an injury, but Ryan Murray has the more lengthy injury history. Given the need for speed and grit up front for the Canadiens, perhaps Josh Anderson is the more attractive piece. If the Canadiens want to hedge their bet, they could ask for a conditional pick in addition to Anderson.
The Potential Trade
Columbus trades: Rights to RFA Josh Anderson + conditional 4th round pick (pick becomes a third round pick if Josh Anderson plays 65 games)
Montreal trades: Rights to RFA Max Domi
Who Says No?
If anyone says no here, it’s Montreal, but it’s not because of not getting fair value - it’s a concern over Josh Anderson’s injury history.
Anderson, when healthy, is a dynamic forward. He scored 22 five on five goals in his last full season, and was clearly one of the best players on the ice when Columbus won their first playoff series, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, however, Anderson only scored one goal in 26 games before having another shoulder surgery and missing most of the year, including the return to play.
Is the conditional pick enough to offset the risk? Maybe. Anderson is coming off only one surgery (he had elected to rehab the injury without surgery before that and was re-injured in a fight with Ottawa’s Mark Borowieki in December), but given another prominent player’s struggles with shoulder surgery (St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko), teams trading for Anderson could get spooked.
If the Canadiens are willing to take a bit of risk with Anderson’s shoulder, the trade is fair. If not, it becomes much more difficult to get Domi in the Union Blue.
What are your thoughts on Max Domi? Could he be a fit in Columbus? What would it take to get him?
Share you thoughts in the comments below!