With the signing of Patrik Laine, something had to give. With around $5.5M to clear to be compliant, Oliver Bjorkstrand got the axe, going to Seattle for a pair of picks in next year’s draft. He finishes with 111 goals and 234 points in 382 games as a Blue Jacket.
I’ve now had the unfortunate task of trying to put a positive spin on both the Gudbransson signing and this trade. With the former, you can see the reasoning. The Jackets needed to get meaner. Bigger. A style of play that’s quickly waning in an increasingly skilled NHL. They over-payed to do this. And now they must pay more.
You can see the reasoning for the Bjorkstrand trade, too. The NHL has a hard salary cap of $82.5 million. With the Laine, Gaudreau, and Gudbransson signings, the Jackets had around $88.5 million on the payroll. Trading Bjorkstrand’s $5.4 million contract, plus sending one of Gaunce or Olivier to Cleveland, makes Columbus compliant.
But doing it with Bjorkstand just feels wrong. The other obvious trade option was Gustav Nyquist, but the Jackets would likely have had to pay another team to take him, and he’s a veteran. Has leadership and whatever. But I, and many other fans, don’t care about that. Elpalito put it best in the Cannon’s Slack:
I don’t care about that though - Bjorkstrand was a CBJ draftee who worked his way. Survived Torts to become a better player. The first one to re-sign with the team when all the ‘out of our blue’ shit was going on. And traded for nothing
While Johnny Gaudreau was the first outside star to commit to the franchise, Bjorkstrand was the first star developed within the club to put pen to paper after the 2019 exodus. He was a manifestation of the “Our Blue” mantra, of the identity of this team. Werenski and Gaudreau and Laine may be bigger names, but in a way, Bjorkstrand was the soul of this team. Given up for grit. For punches. For a veteran presence.
Was it worth it? No.
Columbus sold it’s soul to a dying god.