Blue Jackets Trades Coming…Eventually

The Columbus Blue Jackets are the hottest team in the NHL.

Their 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators gave the Blue Jackets their sixth win in a row. They lead the dreaded Metropolitan Division by just a single point over the New Jersey Devils going into Saturday’s games.

Forward Thinking

Things are good in Blue Jackets land given the winning streak. They sit fourth in the NHL and second in the Eastern Conference thanks to timely scoring, a stout defense and the man in the mask Sergei Bobrovsky.

The question on the minds of many now is the upcoming trade deadline and how the Blue Jackets plan to handle it. Recent reports suggested that the Jackets want to make a move quickly given their need at center. With GM’s Doug Armstrong, Peter Chiarelli and Brad Treliving all spotted at recent games, speculation only increased.

Let’s pump the brakes just a little on the impending trade talk. While it’s true the Blue Jackets want a center, I’m not sure pulling the trigger at this moment is wise.

Winning Allows Patience

The Blue Jackets are in a prime position just after the US Thanksgiving holiday. They can look down at the rest of their division. Because of that, they can afford to wait to see what their options are.

There are five teams in the Eastern Conference within four points of the playoffs and five teams in the Western Conference within two points of the playoffs as of this writing. That leaves just five teams (Montreal, Florida, Buffalo, Edmonton and Arizona) with the fight of their lives just to rejoin the race.

The other 26 teams are either in the playoffs or a maximum of four points out. With so much “parity” in the league, there’s much more sorting out to do. Being on top allows the Blue Jackets time to scan the market to see what opportunities develop. While getting a player like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would help, a better situation could develop later that isn’t there now.

Another Angle

Look at the Edmonton Oilers. Although life is rough for them at this point, I’m not sure trading Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is wise now. His value is at a low point. A team like the Blue Jackets will actively pursue him. But the Oilers have plenty of season left to turn this around. Trading Nugent-Hopkins will hurt. If we’re closer to the trade deadline and we’re still here, then it’s a different conversation.

This kind of trade isn’t easy to make in season. It’s more of a summer trade given all the different variables that could be involved. It can all change in one phone call, but the Blue Jackets do not have to rush into this one.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Oilers
The Blue Jackets would love adding Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but they should wait for the market to develop first.
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Current State of the Blue Jackets

Alexander Wennberg has an upper-body injury. Matt Calvert is still hurt. The Blue Jackets really haven’t played a game in which everyone was healthy or everyone was going. Staying patient in trades allows the team to get these players back to see what they have in February near the deadline.

There’s also questions the team must answer. Can Pierre-Luc Dubois stick on the top line with Artemi Panarin? So far, so good in that regard. But can Dubois sustain his early success over a few months?

When will core guys Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson and others break out of their slumps? Foligno and Atkinson scored Friday night and showed signs of maybe coming out of it. Can they consistently get it going?

With questions about the team still unanswered and the market yet to take full shape, the Blue Jackets should wait until closer to the deadline and see what they got then. Winning allows them the luxury to wait and find the right deal. The pressure’s on the teams who fall out of the race to find the right deals for themselves. Columbus can set the price for a player like Ryan Murray because they’re in a position of strength.

A trade is coming eventually. But I wouldn’t lose sleep over it now. The best things come to those who wait.