Blue Jackets News & Rumors: Horvat, Trade Candidates & More

The Columbus Blue Jackets might not be doing so well on the ice. But off the ice, there are no shortage of stories to talk about. Welcome back to another week of News & Rumors.

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This week, a prominent center is potentially available. Should the Blue Jackets pursue him? Then we will look at the Blue Jackets’ pending UFAs. Could their big-three UFAs have a new home by the trade deadline? We’ll then finish with side dishes from around the Blue Jackets and the NHL.

Canucks in Tough Spot

As soon as the Canucks put pen to paper with forward J.T. Miller, the focus switched over to their captain Bo Horvat. He’s in the last season of his contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.

Horvat will be due a significant raise with his next contract given the season he’s already put together. But where he signs his next contract is up for debate.

On Tuesday, Horvat released a statement indicating that he will not be making any more comments this year about his future.

Horvat will be one of the most sought after players should he reach free agency. It’s not often top-six centers hit market. There will be a lot of competition for his services.

The question we will consider here is from a Blue Jackets’ standpoint. Should they try to trade for Horvat? Then if he reaches market, should the Blue Jackets pursue him?

Our Nick Arnold did a nice job on Wednesday laying out the case why the Blue Jackets should not pursue a trade for Horvat. It makes no sense.

Related: Blue Jackets Should Not Trade for Canucks’ Horvat

The Blue Jackets are not in the market to a) be a buyer and b) trade for a rental. There is no guarantee Horvat would sign with the Blue Jackets if a trade was completed.

In addition, the Blue Jackets would have no interest in trading players the Canucks would want. Cole Sillinger, Kent Johnson and David Jiricek would be at the top of the wish list. This would be a quick hi how are you and then click.

However, should Horvat reach market, the Blue Jackets should at least inquire if not seriously pursue. The need for a top center remains a priority for the Blue Jackets. He would be a fit. The question becomes price.

This is where things could get dicey from a Blue Jackets’ perspective. Horvat’s next contract could approach $8 million. Would the team be able to afford that price tag? If they can afford it, would they want to make that commitment?

With Jake Voracek’s future uncertain, the last year of his contract could go to LTIR if he is unable to return from a concussion. Given also that some of their pending UFAs might not be back, it seems clear the Blue Jackets could afford this. But should they do it?

If Horvat wants to come to Columbus, the Blue Jackets should do everything they can to make it happen. He would immediately fill a need on the top line which would allow Boone Jenner to play lower in the lineup. He would also bring much-needed leadership to a young team. The concern would be the back end of the contract. You worry about that later though.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat will be the headline of the offseason. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nobody knows what the future holds in store for Horvat. The Blue Jackets shouldn’t trade for him. But if he wants to join them in free agency, then they should do whatever it takes to accommodate.

Land both a lottery pick at the draft and then Horvat in free agency? That would make the current pain worth it.

Blue Jackets’ Pending UFAs

This story will only pick up steam as we get closer to the Mar 3 trade deadline. The Blue Jackets have three pending UFAs that will generate most of the headlines. What does the future have in store for them?

Of course we are talking about Vladislav Gavrikov, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Korpisalo. One seems obvious while the other two have nuance involved. Let’s look at each situation.


This one seems heading for trade. Both the Blue Jackets and Gavrikov’s camp have talked however no progress towards a contract has happened. As expected, Gavrikov’s camp is not speaking publicly about where things stand.

This feels like a money issue though. It’s clear the Blue Jackets want to bring him back. Given the state of their defense, they need to bring someone like him back. But if Gavrikov’s ask is outside what the Blue Jackets are willing to pay, then a trade becomes likely.

Gavrikov would be highly sought after. He’s a no nonsense defensive defenseman who can add some offense. He has no trouble laying hits and blocking shots. During the playoffs, teams would love to add someone like him.

Vladislav Gavrikov Columbus Blue Jackets
Vladislav Gavrikov will be highly sought after should the Blue Jackets be unable to sign him. (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

With a lot of competition for his services, that would ensure a good return for the Blue Jackets in any trade package. A late first can be obtained. The return for David Savard was a first round pick. There’s no reason to think a return would fall below that.

Never say never. Perhaps the two sides can find common ground. But the general feeling I’ve heard is that it’s a longshot an extension happens.


This one is more nuanced than what you would think. Nyquist loves Columbus. The Blue Jackets love what he brings to them. There’s a chance an extension could happen here, but only if the price fits.

If the tag stays high, then a trade is likely. But with the need for a veteran presence and the steadiness Nyquist brings, it’s not 100% he is traded.

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This is going to come down to what Nyquist wants at this stage in his career. If he wants to stay with the Blue Jackets, would he be willing to take a pay cut? It’s not impossible. Call it 70/30 he’s traded vs. he stays. As for a return, given the cap hit, a second rounder could be had.


Didn’t we have this talk last season? We thought Korpisalo was gone. Not only did he stay, he signed an extension. This was going to be a year for him to rebound.

All things considered, Korpisalo has done ok for himself. It’s better than last season but he has more to give too. The question here will be do teams think he can regain his All-Star form?

It’s not 100% he’s traded either. If the Blue Jackets feel the return is not good enough, they’ll elect to keep him. They may even explore another contract similar to last season. A lot of this will depend on how he plays in his upcoming starts once he returns from injury. If a trade does happen, a mid-round pick seems reasonable for a return.

Side Dishes

  • Cole Sillinger had his best overall game of the season Thursday night in Tampa. When on the ice at 5-on-5, his expected goal share was over 95% per Nat Stat Trick. Complete dominance. His line with Kent Johnson and Kirill Marchenko scored the only goal of the night and played with a lot of confidence. Brad Larsen said it was easy to play this line as the night went on, especially in the third period.
  • While it was a good night for the kid line, it was an off night for the veterans. Two big mistakes in the third changed the game from 1-1 to 3-1 in a snap. Much more is needed from the veterans.
  • Get this. Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine have combined to score zero (0) power-play goals this season. Yikes.
  • Daniil Tarasov is getting close to ready for a more permanent NHL role, eh? That save on Nikita Kucherov was incredible.
  • Two teams allow more than four goals per game. Those teams are the Anaheim Ducks and the Blue Jackets.
  • However, the offense isn’t saving the Blue Jackets like before. They rank 27th in goals for per game at just 2.79. Scoring 2.79 and allowing 4.07 is not a recipe for success.
  • One of the Blue Jackets’ biggest priorities the rest of the season? Fix Elvis Merzlikins.
  • Finally, the Blue Jackets play in Boston Saturday afternoon. On Friday, former Blue Jacket Nick Foligno made a $200,000 donation to Boston Children’s Hospital through the Hearts Playbook. This will go to fund a two-year program through the Cardiology unit there. This is the same hospital his daughter Milana had her surgery. Foligno continues to be a champion in the community at every stop he’s in.