Columbus Blue Jackets’ Trade Deadline History

Since the poor performance of last season, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been looked at as a key trader in this year’s marketplace as a major seller looking to add assets to their retool. No major assets offloaded through the first week of March in preparation for the March 21 trade deadline could mean a busy couple of weeks.

As the deadline is forthcoming, it’s time for a look into the last five deadlines, and then the Blue Jackets’ five best, and five worst trades in the lead up to the annual milestone.

Recapping the Blue Jackets’ Last Five Trade Deadlines

The past five seasons have been some of the more eventful for the franchise, which has historically made most of their big moves between seasons, as opposed to the lead-up to the midseason event. Let’s have a look into those last five deadlines.

2021

This may have been the Blue Jackets’ busiest deadline as a seller. It helped that they had some pretty decent assets up for sale, and they were a bottom-dweller. They sold off franchise cornerstones Nick Foligno and David Savard to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Tampa Bay Lightning respectively. In return, they received two first-round picks and a third and fourth-round pick.

Nick Foligno Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Foligno was shipped from Columbus to the Toronto Maple Leafs in one of the busier deadlines in Blue Jackets’ history (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It was a big win for the struggling franchise in the minds of many, getting a bounty of picks in return for rental assets to help with their rebuild. One of those first-rounders was upgraded in the Seth Jones trade selecting Cole Sillinger, and the other selected stud-defenseman Corson Ceulemans. As a result, this could go down as the best trade deadline in team history.

2020

Not a ton of asset movement from the Blue Jackets in 2020. They started by moving depth forward Markus Hannikainen for what ended up being nothing. The only real movement in this one was trading former first-round pick Sonny Milano to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Devin Shore. Shore played six games for Columbus and Milano has been lighting it up, looking pretty decent as a linemate to Ducks star Trevor Zegras. It was one of the more lopsided trades in team history, making it not a fun one to look back on for Blue Jackets’ faithful.

2019

2019 was the busiest deadline as a buyer in team history. The 2018-19 campaign was also one of the few times, maybe the only time, they reached contender status as a team to watch. With a lot of players possibly moving on at the end of the season, there was definitely a “farewell tour” feeling in relation to the core of the team that season.

Related: Blue Jackets Go All in With Duchene, Dzingel Trades

Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid, and Kieth Kinkaid were all acquired in separate trades as part of the Blue Jackets’ last-ditch effort to win a cup with the likes of standouts Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky. It didn’t go as planned, but the loaded roster managed to win the franchise’s first playoff series in a sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who had just won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s best team in the regular season.

2018

Mainly minor moves for Columbus leading up to the 2018 Deadline. Adding former offensive star Thomas Vanek to add some scoring depth on the wings, and a couple of other depth pieces in Ian Cole and Mark Letestu to aid in their playoff hunt.

Thomas Vanek Canucks
Thomas Vanek made an impact coming to the Columbus Blue Jackets from the Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Vanek performed above expected with 15 points through 19 regular-season games and chipped in a couple of points in a six-game series loss to the eventual champion Washington Capitals.

2017

Little impact in the 2017 Deadline proceedings, adding Kyle Quincey from the New Jersey Devils in return for Dalton Prout, and Lauri Korpikoski from the Dallas Stars for defenseman Dillon Heatherington. None of these players played an impact role, with none of them lacing up their skates for more than 20 games with their new organizations.

Blue Jackets’ Five Best Deadline Deals

5. Thomas Vanek to the Blue Jackets – 2018

In the late-2000s, early-2010s, Vanek was a name that would strike fear into the hearts of a defensive unit. He twice eclipsed 40 goals, and 25 goals seven times. He had declined from an elite level to being a pretty decent offensive threat by the time the Jackets traded for him at the 2018 Trade Deadline. The Blue Jackets were Vanek’s seventh team in five years, and the 33-year-old Austrian made an impact in Ohio.

The Jackets were in the midst of a tight playoff race, battling for a playoff spot against the Penguins, Flyers, Devils, and Panthers. Vanek came in and gave the team a bump, with 15 points through the final 19 games of the season. Making the playoffs by a single point, in a race that was so tight that the spread between second place in the Metropolitan Division to missing the playoffs was only four points. In exchange, Columbus sent Tyler Motte, who has become a decent depth player with the Canucks, and Jussi Jokinen who was in his last year of NHL action. Pretty fair price for a decent bump to make the playoffs.

4. Matt Duchene to the Blue Jackets – 2019

Duchene became a real threat for a Blue Jackets team that needed offensive help. Without him, it’s hard to think that they would have still swept the Lightning in that key first-round win, the first in franchise history. He scored seven points against the Lightning and added three more in the Jackets’ second-round loss to the Boston Bruins.

Columbus Blue Jackets' Matt Duchene
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Matt Duchene played a key role in the sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Looking at the deal itself, the Jackets sent prospects Jonathan Davidsson, Vitaly Abramov, and a first-round pick to the Senators. Davidsson and Abramov didn’t work out with the Sens and both left the organization as unsigned free agents when their contracts expired. The first-round pick became defenseman Lassi Thomson, who has been coming into his own as a professional with the Sens AHL affiliate this season but hasn’t yet made a significant dent in the big leagues. It was a decent trade for the impact made by Duchene.

3. Nick Foligno to the Maple Leafs – 2021

Come 2021, it was time for the captain who had presided over the most successful era in Jackets’ history to move on. As a pure rental in the last year of his contract, Nick Foligno was far past his offensive prime, but still valuable as a two-way player and a leader in the locker room. Exactly the kind of character depth player that the Toronto Maple Leafs thought they needed to put themselves over the top. However, as with every other deadline deal since 1967, this wouldn’t bring a championship to the city – regardless of the unbridled belief from pundits and their fanbase.

Foligno was part of a three-way deal sending him to the Leafs in exchange for a first-round selection in 2021 and a fourth in 2022. Time will tell if the pick – used to select Corson Ceulemans – works out, but Foligno fizzled with the Leafs. He chipped in four assists in regular season action for the Blue and White, but no goals, and only one assist in yet another first round departure.

2. Adam Foote to the Avalanche – 2008

There were definitely some glory days in Adam Foote’s career. They did not happen with the Blue Jackets, though. Foote spent his time in Ohio as the captain of a dark time in franchise history. A time when David Vyborny’s name reigned supreme at the top of the scoring list. Nothing against Vyborny, but his name definitely isn’t synonymous with team success in Columbus.

Related: 3 Ghosts of Blue Jackets Past

The aging tough defenseman brought a pedigree of success from his time as a key member of the juggernaut Colorado Avalanche squads that ruled the late-1990s, early-2000s. He did not find success in the Buckeye State, with a poor showing over his three seasons with the team.

Then 2008 came, and the Avalanche came calling for the then 36-year-old Foote. They paid a hefty price for him too, dishing a first-round pick and a fourth in return. The price looks even heavier when you consider they were reportedly the only team he was going to accept a trade to. (from ‘Foote forced his way out, sources say,’ The Columbus Dispatch, Mar. 2, 2008) The Blue Jackets drafted an almost Foote-type in David Savard with the fourth-rounder and shipped the first-round pick off to the Philadelphia Flyers in part of a deal to acquire impact forward R.J. Umberger.

1. Sami Pahlsson to the Canucks – 2012

This one was a pretty wild one with a lot of pieces coming in the resulting trade tree, so bear with me. The Blue Jackets sent 33-year-old Sami Pahlsson to the Vancouver Canucks for two fourth-round picks. They then selected Josh Anderson with the pick and used the other pick as part of a package to acquire a goalie by the name of Sergei Bobrovsky. Ever heard of him?

Sami Pahlsson - Columbus Blue Jackets
Sami Pahlsson with the Jackets (Tim Vizer/Icon SMI)

Basically, the Blue Jackets traded an aging center with a career-high of 26 points, turning him into seven seasons and two Vezina Trophies from Sergei Bobrovsky, six seasons of Anderson, and then by extension, a couple of seasons from Max Domi and prospect Samuel Knazko. Pahlsson played 19 games for the Canucks in what would become his last season in the NHL. Not bad for Columbus.

Blue Jackets’ Five Worst Deadline Deals

5. Jonathan Marchessault to the Lightning – 2014

File this one in the “don’t know what you had until it was gone” folder. The Blue Jackets dealt Jonathan Marchessault at the 2014 Deadline. Ultimately in return for the pint-sized forward, they received bupkis. Dana Tyrell and Matt Taormina were the ones going back to Ohio in the deal. Tyrell cracked the major league roster on three occasions and Taormina made his way back to the Lightning organization after 18 games in the Jackets’ farm system. Granted in this argument, there is the nature vs. nurture component, but just imagine Marchessault added to the loaded 2019 Blue Jackets roster. Yowza.

4. Ryan Dzingel to the Blue Jackets – 2019

The flip-side of the Duchene success story was the failure of Ryan Dzingel with the Blue Jackets. Dzingel was hoped to be a piece that would come in and be able to acclimatize quickly as he had some familiarity with Columbus – spending three years in the city with Ohio State. He was at the peak of his trade value, in the midst of what will likely be the most productive season of his career scoring 22 goals and 44 points with the Senators through the 57 games.

His production didn’t completely fall off, but definitely dipped, adding 12 points through the final 21 games of regular-season action. Whatever credibility Dzingel had earned evaporated in the playoffs. He was non-existent, adding one goal in a 4-3 loss to the Bruins in the Blue Jackets’ first-ever second-round appearance.

Columbus Blue Jackets Ryan Dzingel
Columbus Blue Jackets’ Ryan Dzingel (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Julio Cortez)

The deal itself sent 2018-19’s chief resident of John Tortorella’s doghouse, Anthony Duclair to the Ottawa Senators along with two second-round picks for Dzingel and a seventh-round pick in 2019. He exploded with them over the next season and a half and has now become a near point-per-game player with the Florida Panthers. The Senators used those two second-rounders to acquire Matt Murray and Derek Stepan in separate deals. The Blue Jackets used their seventh-rounder to pick up Tyler Angle, a center who could sneak onto their roster in the coming seasons.

3. Jeff Carter to LA – 2012

This one is mostly bad because of what the Blue Jackets gave up to acquire Jeff Carter in the first place. We did a brief recap of the acquisition at the beginning of the year, which you should check out if you’ve forgotten.

Long story short, the Blue Jackets brought in Carter with the hopes that he could become their new franchise cornerstone after the departure of Rick Nash, but it didn’t pan out. So they ended up shipping him off, 39 games into an 11-year contract, to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jack Johnson. Johnson, granted was a decent defender for the Blue Jackets, wound up being a better lesson to NHLers in not letting their parents handle their finances than a franchise-altering piece. Also in the deal was the first-round pick which the Jackets turned into Marko Dano, who also was far from franchise-altering. Carter went on to be a key piece of two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings.

1 & 2. The Marian Gaborik Debacle – 2013 & 2014

This may seem like a cop-out, but it was two deals at two different deadlines, and they were both abhorrent for the Blue Jackets.

Let’s start with the first one. The Blue Jackets traded a former sixth-overall pick in Derick Brassard (who was still under 25 years old), along with another former first-round pick in defenseman John Moore, and tough guy Derek Dorsett for Marian Gaborik. In the four seasons following, Brassard became invaluable to the Rangers. He went on to put up point totals for the Rangers which would have led the Jackets once and been on the podium twice.

Marian Gaborik
Marian Gaborik’s tenure in Columbus was short and infamous (Andy Martin Jr)

And the second deal, after 22 points through 34 games, it was determined that Gaborik “just didn’t fit.” He too, like Carter before him, was sent to the Kings; in exchange for Matt Frattin – who was once lauded as the next big thing for the Toronto Maple Leafs – along with two draft picks. While general manager Jarmo Kekalainen worked his magic, turning the picks into what became Elvis Merzlikins and Gabriel Carlsson, it definitely stung more in the short-term seeing Gaborik go on to win a Stanley Cup championship with the Kings, beating Brassard and the Rangers in the Finals and being lauded as a key piece of the team.

Moving forward, only time will tell if the Blue Jackets are as busy as many expect in the lead-up to this year’s deadline. Columbus hasn’t historically been active leading up to the annual occasion, so it will be exciting to see if that trend continues as the team continues deeper and deeper into its rebuild.

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