Blue Jackets quiet at trade deadline, leaving blue-line renovation for offseason
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After making a flurry of strikes earlier within the week, Blue Jackets normal supervisor Jarmo Kekalainen principally waited and watched as the ultimate day and the ultimate hours of the NHL trade deadline handed on Friday.
This was by no means going to be an exhilarating deadline in Columbus, given their last-place standing within the league.
“Yeah, we acquired all the pieces carried out that was wanted, that was vital, and we acquired ’em carried out earlier than the deadline,” Kekalainen mentioned. “In order that’s why it was a boring day for you guys (within the media).
“You are taking the cellphone calls and see if there’s one thing, see if someone has some concepts and one thing pops up. However we weren’t actually seeking to do a lot at the moment.”
The Blue Jackets did what they wanted to do. However they didn’t do all the pieces they wished to do, which is why Kekalainen will head into the offseason — mercifully there are solely 20 video games remaining after Friday — with main tasks on his punch record.
If Kekalainen had his superb trade deadline, the Blue Jackets would have acquired top-pair defenseman Jakob Chychrun in a trade with Arizona. However Kekalainen’s makes an attempt to land Chychrun fell quick on Wednesday, when Chychrun was traded to Ottawa.
With Vladislav Gavrikov traded and Chychrun taking part in in Canada’s capital, an already skinny Blue Jackets’ defensive high 4 now’s in even worse form. The one participant who matches that description is Zach Werenski, who might be coming off one other shoulder surgical procedure when coaching camps take the ice within the fall.
Kekalainen wouldn’t go into a lot element on Friday — all GMs maintain their playing cards shut, particularly Kekalainen — however his participation within the Chychrun sweepstakes is validation that he is aware of his blue line wants vital assist.
“We’ve acquired loads of work left to do within the offseason, and proper now the alternatives aren’t there as a result of 20 groups are attempting to load up (for the playoffs) and so they’re not prepared to surrender something,” Kekalainen mentioned.
“These alternatives will come within the offseason, when there’ll be 31 disenchanted groups.”
The conditional first-round decide that the Blue Jackets acquired within the trade that despatched Gavrikov and Joonas Korpisalo to the Kings was dangled earlier than the Coyotes as a part of the Blue Jackets’ package deal to swing Chychrun, and it’ll little question be used this summer time to attempt to purchase instant roster assist.
Both that, or the Blue Jackets should plunge into free company with a good larger expenditure than final summer time, after they signed free agent defenseman Erik Gudbranson to a four-year, $16 million contract to play on the third pair.
This is the reason it was vital for Kekalainen to unload Jakub Voracek’s $8.25 million contract in a cope with Arizona. Veteran top-four defensemen don’t come cheaply on the NHL free agent market.
That’s actually the main target, too, the defensive high 4. The Blue Jackets have many choices to play on the third pair, however no one who jumps off the web page as a transparent top-four candidate on a membership that’s able to win.
One spot could possibly be crammed by David Jiricek, the No. 6 total decide final summer time. Jiricek is seen as a candidate to play with Werenski on the highest pair, however taking part in top-pairing minutes is a big problem for most 19-year-olds.
Proper-side defenseman Adam Boqvist could possibly be seen as a candidate, too. He’s regarded more and more efficient this season when he’s been in a position to keep wholesome.
“We have now to develop internally and look for alternatives to make our workforce higher from outdoors,” Kekalainen mentioned.
The Blue Jackets have some selections to make up entrance, too, however the questions appear doubtless to attract higher solutions.
Kekalainen mentioned on Friday that he expects Alexandre Texier to be a part of the membership subsequent season after spending this season in Europe to be nearer to his household in Grenoble, France. Texier is a top-nine winger, and was taking part in in addition to anyone when he suffered a damaged finger final season.
The Blue Jackets are anticipated so as to add third- or fourth-line middle Dmitry Voronkov subsequent season. Voronkov, a fourth-round decide in 2019, is taking part in his remaining season in Russia’s KHL earlier than making the NHL leap.
Maybe most significantly, the Blue Jackets are hoping to land the No. 1 total decide on this summer time’s draft, which might permit them to draft middle Connor Bedard, the NHL’s newest generational expertise.
The Blue Jackets did make one minor transfer on Friday, and really it wasn’t actually a transfer at all.
Heart Cole Sillinger, who has endured a depraved sophomore stoop this season, was despatched to AHL Cleveland earlier than the three p.m. AHL roster-freeze deadline.
It was solely a “paper transfer.” Sillinger by no means left Columbus. In actual fact, he was recalled at round 3:01 p.m. and was within the lineup on Friday towards Seattle.
However the transfer made Sillinger eligible to play for AHL Cleveland later throughout the common season or within the playoffs. The Blue Jackets didn’t ship out Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko, Tim Berni or others, so they won’t be a part of the playoff push ought to the Monsters qualify.
“If we get more healthy and get some guys taking part in in Cleveland as effectively, they need to make the playoffs and Cole could be an ideal addition to that group,” Kekalainen mentioned.
Sillinger had 16 objectives as an 18-year-old rookie final season. He has two objectives, none since Nov. 17. That’s a span of 40 video games.
Requested if Sillinger was on-board with a doable demotion, Kekalainen mentioned: “Yeah, that’s a part of being knowledgeable.”
(Picture: Timothy T. Ludwig / USA In the present day)