Blue Jackets Still Have Trade Options to Get Maximum Return

Welcome to NHL Trade Deadline Week 2023. We are now just four days away from the 3 P.M. eastern deadline. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, it should be an eventful week.

As we release this piece on Monday morning, all three of Vladislav Gavrikov, Gustav Nyquist and Joonas Korpisalo are still on the team. It’s possible that all three or even maybe a surprise or two could be gone by the Friday deadline.

The question on the minds of many fans is a simple one. Can the Blue Jackets still get maximum value, including a first-round pick, before Friday’s deadline? That will be the focus of our discussion here. Warning: please read before it gets outdated.

Setting the Scene

The Blue Jackets thought they had a deal with the Boston Bruins for Gavrikov. However the Bruins pivoted and completed a trade with the Washington Capitals to acquire Dmitri Orlov and Garnet Hathaway. The Bruins gave up their 2023 first-round pick in this deal essentially taking them away from a possible Gavrikov deal.

Vladislav Gavrikov Columbus Blue Jackets
Vladislav Gavrikov is still available for a contending team. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

This left the Blue Jackets in a pickle. With the number of teams around the league willing to give up a first for a rental basically dried up, it leaves the possibility that the price would have to come down in order for teams to seriously consider Gavrikov. It has been reported the Blue Jackets want both a first and a third rounder in this deal.

Now GM Jarmo Kekalainen will have a decision to make. Does he stick to his guns of the perceived asking price or does he come down some? Considering what the Tampa Bay Lightning just gave up for Tanner Jeannot, anything is possible.

Possible Options to Maximize Return

Because the market has other defensemen available such as Luke Schenn and Jake McCabe, teams could opt to look for a deal with those players if they don’t want to give a first rounder for Gavrikov. Market supply and demand is in play.

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The Blue Jackets do have some intriguing options if they want to get a bigger return in a deal. Let’s look at a couple scenarios they could take on for a higher return.

Packaged Deals

We briefly touched on the Bruins/Capitals trade in which Orlov and Hathaway went to Boston. They pivoted to this deal as they got two important pieces rather than just one. Perhaps the Blue Jackets see an opportunity here also.

For instance, why not package Gavrikov and say Mathieu Olivier together? Or what about Gavrikov and Korpisalo? We could even go one step further and package Gavrikov and Nyquist together. Speaking of Nyquist, I saw him postgame on Saturday. He wasn’t in a sling. Seems his recovery is going well.

There are combinations available that could attract more teams. If the goal of the Blue Jackets is a first-round pick, their odds of acquiring one go up if they go the package route.

For example, the Edmonton Oilers are in the market for a defenseman. They could also use a depth goaltender. Acquiring both Gavrikov and Korpisalo could have appeal to them. Including both would drive the price up which could mean landing a first-round pick.

Trading Players With Term

There’s always room for a surprise or two, right? Until the deadline comes, anything is possible. For the Blue Jackets, they could receive calls for players with term left.

Jack Roslovic for example had two goals Saturday against the Oilers. He has this season and next season at $4 million. He can skate and has some scoring flash when he’s on his game. A contender could easily kick tires here.

Captain Boone Jenner is another example. The Blue Jackets are not shopping him and would have little motivation to trade him. But contenders would see the value he’d bring. He also has plenty of term left. The conversation might be short but it wouldn’t surprise anyone if there were calls at least.

Eric Robinson is another example of a player with term who could help someone’s bottom-six. He’s a burner and an important penalty killer. He could even be included in a package deal above to maximize value.

Weaponizing Cap Space

The Blue Jackets could in theory act as a third-party broker. Thanks to LTIR, they have room. But they have to be selective in which situations would appeal to them.

The Blue Jackets can’t just get into every broker situation. There is a cost to this. A team at the bottom of the NHL standings would love to shed salary if they could. But at the same time there could be opportunity for them to add assets.

Jarmo Kekalainen Columbus Blue Jackets
Jarmo Kekäläinen has some decisions to make this week. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

For example, the Blue Jackets could retain salary on any of their pending UFA’s. That would help a contender make a deal and would also increase a potential return.

Cap strapped teams like the Oilers, Maple Leafs, Golden Knights and others would be more willing to talk if the cap hit was less for them. The Blue Jackets could make that happen.

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As you can see, just because the Blue Jackets and Bruins couldn’t agree on a Gavrikov deal doesn’t mean they don’t have other options available for a maximum return. It’s now up to Kekalainen to find the deals that make the most sense while getting good value in return.

What will the Blue Jackets look like Friday night in their game against the Seattle Kraken? Let the madness of Trade Deadline week begin.

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