NHL Trade Deadline 2013 - Blue Jackets Must Deal From Strength
If Jarmo Kekalainen wants to make a move at the NHL trade deadline, you have to give to get. That means fans in Columbus should be prepared to see a very different blue line after this season.
No matter what happens between today and Wednesday, the Blue Jackets are probably going to look a bit different on Thursday morning. While nobody expects Jarmo Kekalainen to do anything too radical, he's almost certainly looking to improve the club for the long term, no matter what the short term effect may be.
If he should decide to make a move to keep the club in the playoff chase, there's a decent chance he'll be looking for someone who can help the team's scoring while keeping up their solid two way play. If he feels it's time to look to October, I wouldn't be shocked to see a gameplan that involves assembling as many draft picks as possible for the 2013 entry draft, with a priority placed on the first and second rounds.
Either way, he's going to need to offer other general managers something for those assets. I cannot see a scenario where Jarmo seriously considers moving one of his first round picks (well, OK, let's say I cannot see a realistic scenario), so that means prospects and vets are going to be his primary currency.
There are a few players up front who might be considered attractive, but with the team's current injury situation, I don't see them trading forwards on the current roster unless they get a powerful offer, so the blue line seems like the most likely area to offer up candidates.
If I had to guess, players like David Savard, Dalton Prout, and Theo Ruth could all be offered - all upcoming RFAs, all getting good experience in Springfield, and with decent, if not top drawer, NHL potential.
On the veteran side of things, Adrian Aucoin is an obvious possibility for a club looking for a veteran, but it's also worth considering that the Jackets were already risking a log jam on the blue line when Ryan Murray was drafted.
I think Tim Erixon has played well enough to make him an asset to build with, but equally a potential bargaining chip, and both John Moore and Dalton Prout have another year on their ELCs.
If Murray is, as expected, going to step into the lineup next season, something is going to have to give. Even if you expect Aucoin to move on and to send Prout back down to Springfield next season (barring injury), you still have a full compliment of NHL defensemen.
A lot of teams are looking for help on the blue line, particularly the Flyers and Blues. The club may have to consider who they trade with - today's cross conference deal could literally be next season's division rival - but there are some intriguing possibilities.
This is going to be Jarmo's first opportunity to put a real stamp on this club. I don't think he'll fail to take advantage of it.