The trade winds are blowing.
As we draw closer to the NHL Draft and free agency, the trade winds will get even stronger. Teams are looking for ways to improve their team in time for the start of next season. For the Columbus Blue Jackets, the trade winds are near hurricane force.
As we wrote yesterday, Columbus has made it clear that they are looking to upgrade their roster via trades. The most pressing need at this point is on defense. Columbus gave up a ridiculous 33.3 shots/game this past season. Management feels so strongly about the need to upgrade on defense, that they’re willing to deal a young prospect such as Kerby Rychel to make it happen.
But who should the Blue Jackets target? We outlined yesterday that there is a current imbalance on defense, with 5 left-handed and 3 right-handed shots on the roster. Knowing this, we can reasonably conclude that Columbus would want a right-handed defenseman to balance it out.
When do trades happen? They happen when it makes sense for both teams. They also happen when one team is feeling cap crunched and their only option is to trade. There is a unique opportunity that is available to Columbus as a result. They must make every effort to see if there is a match.
Who Must Columbus Trade For?
The Chicago Blackhawks are again playing in the Western Conference Finals. The run this team is on since 2010 is about as close as you’ll see to someone being a modern-day dynasty. But in the cap era, great teams sometimes don’t last for long.
Because of the 2 massive contracts signed by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks will seemingly have some players who will be victims of the salary cap. Chicago is certainly willing to listen to reasonable offers to help with their cap crunch.
This is where Columbus needs to make a call to Stan Bowman. The Blackhawks have a player on their roster who is a perfect fit to what Columbus is looking for. This player has 1 season remaining on his current deal at a $5.8 million cap hit. Because of the signing bonus at the beginning of his contract, his actual salary for next season would be $5 million. He has produced at a higher level than what he makes. He just turned 30 in April. He is a right defenseman. His name is Brent Seabrook.
Why This Trade Would Work
Both sides would benefit from this deal. Columbus would get a huge upgrade on defense in Seabrook. His experience and leadership would be a huge welcome addition to the locker room. He would also stabilize the current defensemen on the Blue Jackets. Imagine for a moment a top pair of Ryan Murray and Brent Seabrook. Then you would have a 2nd pair of Jack Johnson and David Savard. That leaves a 3rd pair of any combination of Kevin Connauton, Dalton Prout, Fydor Tyutin, and Cody Goloubef. Seabrook’s impact is a bargain at $5.8 million.
Chicago would benefit also, by getting cap relief. They could then sign other important players, like Brandon Saad. In addition, the Blackhawks would get younger if a Kerby Rychel was involved in a deal. I could see a situation in which Rychel, Goloubef and the 8th overall pick goes to Chicago in exchange for Seabrook. Chicago is currently without a 1st round pick. That kind of deal would give the Blackhawks a promising forward, an up and coming defenseman, and a chance to draft an impact player.
Columbus is close to being a true contender. Bringing in someone like Brent Seabrook would energize the Blue Jackets locker room even more than it already is. Chicago may decide to keep Seabrook and trim other pieces. But if I’m John Davidson or Jarmo Kekalainen, I’m on the phone with Stan Bowman this offseason to see what it would take to get Brent Seabrook to Columbus. He could be the missing piece Columbus needs to get to the next level.