3 Teams Heavily Scouting Columbus

The Columbus Blue Jackets can help bolster your team for the playoffs.

Because of their annual poor start, the Blue Jackets find themselves in a place to sell come Monday’s trade deadline. With fewer sellers than buyers this season, the options the Blue Jackets have available become more attractive for teams looking to upgrade.

Whether your team is looking for a top-six option (Scott Hartnell), a bottom-six option (Gregory Campbell or Rene Bourque), or a defenseman (Fedor Tyutin), Columbus can fill your need. The most attractive option here is Hartnell.

At age 34, Hartnell is in the back nine of his career. The Blue Jackets are looking to shed salary, while getting younger. Hartnell has three years remaining on his contract after this season at a cap hit of $4.75 million. The acquiring team gets control of a player who can score 20 goals, while boosting your power play. He can also irritate the heck out of the other team in the playoffs.

Campbell and Bourque are players who can help your fourth line. The price to acquire them is not expensive. A late-round pick for each likely gets a deal done. The Blue Jackets likely do not re-sign Bourque after the season. Campbell does have one more year left at a cap hit of $1.5 million.

Tyutin has played better of late. He has played with Dalton Prout on the Blue Jackets’ third pair. Tyutin in this recent stretch has shown he has gas left in the tank. At age 32, Tyutin has two years remaining on his contract, with a cap hit of $4.5 million. Steady is the best way to describe his game. You can usually depend on him being in position defensively to limit scoring opportunities, while adding a hint of offense.

These players are most likely to go before the deadline. Of course if the right deal comes along, other players could move as well. So which teams have followed the Blue Jackets of late? There are three teams that have followed them for a long time, and two others that have off and on. Thanks to Cap Friendly for all of the salary data.

Nashville Predators

This makes sense, given their need for a top-six forward. Could we see a homecoming of sorts? Scott Hartnell started his career with the Predators. He’s exactly the kind of player Nashville could use. The Predators have plenty of cap space to take his contract on. TSN’s Frank Seravalli recently told me that Hartnell would be a “perfect fit” for Nashville. In my mind, if this deal happens, a pick and a prospect would come back. Columbus doesn’t want to add salary if they can help it.

Alex Galchenyuk
If the Habs make him available, Columbus would have significant interest in Alex Galchenyuk. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Montreal Canadiens

The Habs are interesting. They’ve followed Columbus for most of the season, likely looking for a forward. Given that most of the Canadiens roster is available in the right situation, a lot of things can play out. I wonder if they’re looking at a player like Kerby Rychel. When Rychel wasn’t getting playing time in Columbus, he wanted a trade but Montreal didn’t want him then. I’d think they’d have interest now.

At the same time, Columbus has scouted the Habs a bunch this season. Names like Dale Weise, Lars Eller and even Alex Galchenyuk have been tossed around. If Galchenyuk was available, I believe Columbus listens. Eller is someone Jarmo Kekalainen drafted in St. Louis and is a fan of. Weise could fill a need at right-wing. This one is hard to get a gauge on.

It doesn’t mean the teams are close to a trade at this time, but that they’ve scouted each other a lot does show some level of interest. If not now, we could see something after the season.

Minnesota Wild

Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher came out and said that the team is not selling at the deadline. If that’s their mindset, then the Wild are looking for a top-six forward to help them get to the playoffs. Hartnell would seem to fit this mold. But unlike the Predators, the Wild are close to the cap. This would need some creativity to make work.

Columbus has scouted the Wild of late. I wonder if the Blue Jackets would look at Jonas Brodin here. Not sure the Wild would want to give him up. When the Wild asked about Ryan Johansen, Brodin was the likely player coming to Columbus. Perhaps the time has passed for that now, but it is curious to see where this could go. Zach Parise and Jason Zucker are out with injuries. Will the Wild address that by Monday’s deadline?

Two Others

The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are also worth watching leading up to the deadline.

The Ducks have heavily scouted the Blue Jackets at different points this season. GM Bob Murray said that they could have interest in a forward. Are they interested in Scott Hartnell? It’s always possible. They could use a player of Hartnell’s caliber, especially given what he can bring on the power play. The cap is not an issue. Because Andrew Ladd is off the market, more teams will start to look at Hartnell.

Dean Lombardi
What does Dean Lombardi have up his sleeve this time? Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to the Los Angeles Kings. This seems like it’s an annual tradition that the Kings and Blue Jackets get involved in a deal of some kind. The Kings are right at the cap, though. If anything happens here, it will involve salary switching hands. The Kings could use a defenseman. The Kings were at Nationwide Arena Thursday watching the Devils/Blue Jackets game. We’ll see if this turns into anything.

It’s go time. With a little more than 72 hours left until the trade deadline, the action is just beginning. Who will end up where? Let the trades begin.