We are now into the final week before the NHL’s Trade Deadline. Although it’s been very quiet of late, it’s not going to be quiet for long. Teams have decisions to make on several players. Time is starting to run out.
With that, we focus on the Columbus Blue Jackets and perhaps their biggest trade chip of this deadline. Although he’s been inconsistent as a whole since arriving in Columbus, he’s played better of late and still has plenty to offer contending teams looking to win a Stanley Cup this season.
Max Domi Offers Solid Depth
Max Domi appears to be very much in play as we countdown to Mar 21. He is a pending UFA. As he told recently told the Hockey Writers, he and the Blue Jackets haven’t had much in the way of talks about his future here.
When you consider where the Blue Jackets are at overall, they have to decide who is going to be a part of this future. Domi doesn’t seem to fit in that regard. Plus he can bring back assets the Blue Jackets could use as part of building for their future.
The question we need to consider is what does Domi have to offer to contending teams interested in his services. Despite the inconsistencies in his game, Domi would make a forward group better for several reasons.
If you have watched his recent games, it’s clear that he’s taken his game to another level. He’s playing with the energy and passion the Blue Jackets wanted from the time he arrived in Columbus. In particular, three things stand out in terms of what a contender would get if they choose to acquire him. Let’s look at those now.
Speed is something Domi has always had. When he’s on top of his game, his skating is one of his most effective weapons. He can create rush chances as well as close gaps on defense.
The issue as stated above has been the inconsistency. There are times when Domi doesn’t impact the game and is chasing it. But in the last couple of weeks, he’s been one of their most dangerous players. On some nights he’s been the Blue Jackets’ best player. It starts and ends with the energy and passion he brings into a game.
As a depth add on a contender, Domi will provide speed that should open things up for him and his teammates. If he ever figures out the consistency needed in the NHL, he could be a special player. This leads us into point two.
Domi can create chances. He’s known more for being a playmaker than a scorer. In Sunday night’s win against the Vegas Golden Knights, his playmaking was on full display. His pass to Cole Sillinger to setup a goal was a thing of beauty. It was a saucer pass right on the tape to help create a hat trick goal for Sillinger.
Domi is especially good at this aspect when he doesn’t overthink the situation. When he just plays within the flow of the game, he can be electric. Head coach Brad Larsen has liked what he’s seen from him of late. It’s some of the best Domi has looked in a long time.
“Man he elevated his game. He was flying tonight,” Larsen said of Domi. “Again I think these offensive guys you get a shift like that, you get the crowd in it at home. It gives you a jolt, doesn’t it? Those three (Domi, Sillinger, Bjorkstrand) they were electric tonight as far as their legs. You could see it. The puck was following them around. They could have had more too, could have done more damage.”
“Some of the plays that Max made, that’s some of his special skill that he has with his passing ability. So it was great to see him elevate his game too for us.”
Domi has the speed and the skill. Now here’s where he can be a real asset especially in the playoffs.
Willingness to Play Physical
Domi has a master class of being able to get under someone’s skin. When he’s engaged and motivated, few in the league can do what he does. Sometimes it goes too far. That’s the thing that has to be tempered in a playoff series.
Domi is willing to fight even if it’s against someone bigger than him. He defends his teammates and isn’t afraid to let the opposition know what he truly thinks of them. During postgame Sunday, he didn’t mince his words when it came to Alex Pietrangelo and their “fight” in the first period.
“I tried to get him to fight and he didn’t want to and he waited until I was in a headlock,” Domi said. Then he took off his glove when I couldn’t move my arms and he suckered me in the nose. It is what it is.”
Nic Hague came in and gave the headlock to Domi while he and Pietrangelo were in a scrum. This resulted in a Blue Jackets’ power play.
There are many nights when Domi’s play gives energy to his teammates. It can be infectious at times. It’s just now a matter of putting it all together.
It’s not often that a former 70-point scorer becomes available at the deadline. But in Domi, contending teams get a package of speed, skill, playmaking and physicality that would be a great fit for the playoffs. A middle-six winger role with an established center would be the sweet spot.
A team that immediately comes to mind here is Boston. Colorado is also a team that could benefit from Domi. There are others too.
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Domi’s tenure has been inconsistent. But he has shown flashes of brilliance especially in the last couple of weeks. He is the biggest pending UFA trade chip the Blue Jackets have. They should get a decent return for someone who has plenty to offer.
With just one week to go, the time is coming for someone to step up. It won’t be a matter of if someone steps up. It’s a matter of who steps up and for how much. Domi is primed to be a sneaky add for a contender who’s ready to go all-in on this season.
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.