Hartnell for Colin Wilson? Friedman Would.

Not sure why, but Elliotte Friedman says trade "makes sense" to him.

Elliotte Friedman posted one of his required-reading "30 Thoughts" columns today, and while there wasn't much on the Blue Jackets trade front, one thing certainly stuck out:

5. Trade that may only make sense to me: Scott Hartnell for Colin Wilson.

Been a rough year for Wilson, dropping from a career-high 20 goals in 2014-15 to four in 43 games so far. It’s been a roller coaster relationship between him and the organization. The Predators know Hartnell very well and coach Peter Laviolette had him in Philadelphia.

Nashville would lose in age (seven years), and Hartnell makes $800,000 more per season, although that could be evened out. They both have three years remaining on their contracts.

This is a head scratcher, but maybe that's because Friedman is looking at this from a different perspective than we are.

It has long been assumed that the only reason to trade Scott Hartnell right now is that his value is not ever going to be higher, with respect to his production, age, and remaining contract length/cap hit. We look at that through the CBJ-tinted lens of: we're nearly at the salary cap, playoffs aren't happening this season, and next season might be a stretch too. Let's get out from under as much salary as possible, and if we can maybe get a William Karlsson kind of prospect a la the Wisniewski trade last year, let's do it.

Friedman seems to be looking at it from the standpoint of Nashville wanting scoring help now while making the salaries balance out. The fact that he cites the contracts at the end of his blurb is the dead giveaway.

But, let's look at the actual players. As Friedman notes, Colin Wilson is the much younger of the two at 26 years of age. But, again, he's signed for the same term as is Hartnell, and doesn't save the team much money at all over the remaining term: his $3.9375 million cap hit is just $812,500 less than Hartnell's $4.75 million hit. That's a "loss" trade for the Jackets, just purely from an asset management standpoint.

What I mean by that is this: Hartnell is an asset at this deadline, and the biggest potential return (i.e., reason to even trade him at all) is the salary relief down the road.

In terms of production, there's a chance Wilson *could* help the Jackets over the term of his contract. He is an NHL-level center, after all, which is something that the Jackets do not have enough of. He is also just one season removed from 20 goals for Nashville. Conversely, however, is the fact that he's notched just four goals this season in 43 games while seeing all of his numbers plummet. Perhaps he's suffering from a version of Nick Foligno syndrome, in that last season his PDO was 101.9 with an 11.6% shooting percentage in what was a contract year; this year, those numbers are down to 98.2 and 4.9%.

So, is Wilson due for a bounce back? His career marks there are 101.1 and 12.2%, so there's some data to suggest he's just having a "bad year".

But, is parting with one of your biggest trade chips--and biggest chance at getting some immediate salary cap relief--worth that gamble? Moreover, is a Colin Wilson "bounce back" really a big selling point for the Blue Jackets, or would they be better served going in another (read: younger) direction?

That's the question. Friedman thinks so. I, however, am skeptical. I'd much rather take a flyer on a mid-level prospect or draft pick and then eat a much smaller, shorter contract then to take a gamble that a guy who has never topped 42 points in a season will suddenly bounce back going to a more defensive-minded system, all while punting away your chance at some much needed cap space.

Perhaps that's what this trade "may only make sense to" Friedman.

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