All is quiet in Columbus for now. That may not last much longer.
It’s no secret that the Blue Jackets are in the market to make some trades this offseason. But there are several things we are not sure of yet. We don’t know who is all involved. We also don’t know how many trades could be coming.
A closer look at the Blue Jackets roster, combined with what we know publically, reveals a real possibility for major fireworks in the near future. Anytime that a recent 1st round pick is made available, you take notice.
The Blue Jackets have excess. They have an unbalanced roster loaded with extra forwards. As a result, there is a glaring need for defensemen. Kerby Rychel’s name mentioned here does make some sense.
Rychel is a left winger. Assuming the Blue Jackets resign restricted free agent Matt Calvert, the team would have newest captain Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Calvert, and Jeremy Morin on the left side. All in all, that is a good set of left wingers.
Rychel also has value around the league. He is just 20 years old, and just 2 years removed from being a 1st round pick. Teams will certainly inquire of him. Montreal has already been tied to Rychel.
Blue Jackets Blockbuster?
If a trade does happen, would the trade involve only Kerby Rychel straight up? Maybe. It depends what the Blue Jackets have in mind for a defenseman target. If a bigger name is involved, the trade itself could be bigger.
On defense, the Blue Jackets have an abundance of left-handed shots. Ryan Murray, Jack Johnson, Fydor Tyutin, and Kevin Connauton are all left-handed. Only David Savard, Dalton Prout, and Cody Goloubef are right-handed. Because of this imbalance, it is reasonable to believe that the Blue Jackets will want to target a right defenseman to balance things out.
Elliotte Friedman recently reported that the only untouchable defensemen for the Blue Jackets are Ryan Murray and David Savard. If that is true, the right deal could make the other defensemen moveable.
Also consider the current right wingers the Blue Jackets have: Cam Atkinson, Rene Bourque, David Clarkson, Jack Skille, Corey Tropp, and Jared Boll. The team wouldn’t mind adding a top 6 right-wing to play along side a Brandon Dubinsky.
If you put all these pieces together, it shows that the Blue Jackets will be active this offseason. GM Jarmo Kekalainen recently told me that draft picks will take 2-3 years to develop on average. He also said the team will take the best available player, no matter the position. With that said, immediate help will come in the form of free agency or trades.
Whether it is several smaller trades, or one big trade, the Blue Jackets are open for business. Kerby Rychel is getting the attention, but do not discount the possibility of others being involved. Given the needs, the imbalance at forward, and the emergence of young players (Oliver Bjorkstrand/Sonny Milano), you can expect turnover in this roster.
The team is looking to upgrade, not add. This is important to note. This would imply that trades are more likely than UFA pickups. This is not a matter of if they trade, but how much they trade. The takeaway? Expect some surprises. If James Wisniewski was dealt, most anyone can be dealt. Stay tuned. This will not be a boring summer for the Blue Jackets.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.