So let’s fire Todd Richards, and trade Kerby Rychel for P. K. Subban, Kris Letang, and Drew Doughty.
If you follow the Blue Jackets talk on Twitter, this is what a smart team would do.
Still no? Alright then.
Realistically, Columbus General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen is in a very difficult position. From a trade standpoint, his options are quite limited.
The Clauses (No, not Santa)
Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, David Clarkson, Scott Hartnell, and Fedor Tyutin all have no movement clauses in their contracts. In addition, Rene Bourque has a no trade clause.
That is roughly $25 million in cap-space that they cannot move without player permission. This makes things exceptionally difficult on a team that only has approximately $2.5 million in free space..
Not Going Anywhere
We know that Brandon Saad, Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, and Sergei Bobrovsky are not going to be traded. So if you take away the players with clauses, and the untouchables, that doesn’t leave much to move.
With the exception of Cam Atkinson, and (maybe) Jack Johnson, the remaining players, such as Dalton Prout and Kevin Connauton are not going to bring much in return.
Unfortunately, Kekalainen’s hand are mostly tied.
Pick and Prospects
So there is always a draft pick or one of the quality forward prospects to be traded, right?
Well, yes and no.
Who is trading quality D right now for a prospect? That’s a March trade involving a UFA. Not week 2. https://t.co/24pDrHXhAu
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) October 15, 2015
Trading a first-round pick, or a decent prospect will bring you a return. But there are issues even with this. The first problem is that unless you find the right trade partner, you would likely only get a rental, and that doesn’t help this team the way that it needs helped.
The second problem is the date. This is only October, and a team that is looking for future help isn’t going to make a move until the trade deadline is near. This will ensure as much of a bidding war as possible to maximize the return. All of this being said a trade is possible, and necessary, but it wont be easy.
From a recent Columbus Dispatch article by columnist Michael Arace.
“Kekalainen added that, yes, he has attempted to swing a trade. He has not come close to making one for the obvious reason — a desperate team does not deal from a position of strength.”
Fire the Coach!
Unfortunately, right or wrong this is the most likely scenario. Todd Richards is a quality coach and deserves better. But the old saying is that an NHL head coach is hired to be fired. They all have their expiration date in regards to their effectiveness.
Coaches tend to lose their teams for various reasons. I do not believe that this is the case, but it appears that the players have all lost all confidence in themselves as a team.
The team believed their own hype. As Kekalainen has stated, they are trying to finesse their way through games. Yes they traded for Brandon Saad. Yes they have a shameful amount of talented forwards. But playing globetrotter hockey doesn’t help you in the NHL.
The Blue Jackets can not out skill their opponents for a full three periods, and their defense isn’t good enough to compensate. By the time the players realized that they weren’t the second coming of the 80’s Oilers it blew their minds, and they still have not recovered.
Ultimately who is going to pay for the players mistakes? That right, Todd Richards.
Likely what will happen is that the team will hire a taskmaster, probably a John Tortorella type, and will get their heads on straight. They will string off several wins, and everyone will shake their heads at the ineptitude of Richards.
It’s a shame, but that the life of an NHL head coach.
No Change for the Sake of Change
I have seen too many people recently just calling for change. Any change.
I do agree the status quo just isn’t good enough anymore, but they have to be the right moves or it will make the situation worse. Not just worse right now, but for years to come.
The front office slowly backed themselves into a corner with albatross contracts and no movement clauses. The first order of business is finding a way around those obstacles.
There a lot of coulda, shoulda, woulda, situations here. They should not have to address their defensive needs in October. That should have been done in July. But nothing can be done about that now, whats done is done.
Changes must be made, and they need to be smart moves. But until changes are made, the Blue Jackets players need to get back to basics and play sound, fundamental hockey.
The finesse will come, but they have to play smart hockey first.
Until next time.
Greg is a Pittsburgh Penguins writer for ‘The Hockey Writers’.
He is a Pittsburgh area native who has written for multiple Penguins news and opinion sites. In addition to hockey writing, he is also an experienced YouTube creator.
Greg started with THW in 2015 as a Blue Jackets writer, and spent time as a Fantasy Hockey analyst.