Wild’s 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: Columbus Blue Jackets

Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ 2023 Offseason Trade Targets series for the Minnesota Wild. During it, we will be looking at a handful of players from each NHL team who the Wild should consider pursuing this summer.

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The latest installment of this series takes a look at the Columbus Blue Jackets. They finished second last in the entire NHL in the 2022-23 regular season with the Anaheim Ducks the only team with a worse record. The offseason acquisitions of Johnny Gaudreau and Erik Gudbrandson were not enough to make up for injuries and poor play. They hold the third overall selection in the upcoming 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

  • Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Cap Space: $16,829,167
  • Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA): 6
  • Restricted Free Agents (RFA): 7

They have a decent amount of cap space available that could help facilitate a deal between the two clubs. They could sign many of their free agents without digging too much into their cap. There are a few members of the team that could benefit the Wild as realistic acquisitions.

Sean Kuraly

Sean Kuraly is a career bottom-six player who is primarily used in a shutdown role. He only played 71 games this past season but was able to generate 20 points in that time. He is a penalty killer who isn’t afraid to throw his body around as his 187 hits demonstrate.

Related: Wild’s 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: Edmonton Oilers

Kuraly could easily slot into the Wild’s bottom six, ideally as a fourth-line center. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 213 pounds, he would bring some size to that portion of the lineup. He could really thrive in the Wild’s defensive system and be a consistent contributor.

Interesting Fact/Stat: Kuraly was given the 2015-16 National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Defensive Forward of the Year award.

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Despite Kuraly’s $2.5 million contract, I believe sending a couple of draft picks to the Blue Jackets might be enough to acquire him. They don’t have any third or fourth-round picks this year, however, they do have two second-round picks this year and two fifth-round picks in 2024. A third and a fourth feel like the right price, but maybe a 2024 second-round pick and a 2023 fifth-round pick gets the deal done.

Andrew Peeke

Andrew Peeke is a top-four right-handed shutdown defender. That is enough to draw interest from the Wild, but he is also very young at 25 years old and still has his prime years ahead of him. He played 80 games this past season averaging 21:15 of time on ice (TOI). He has received the least offensive deployment with 39% of his zone starts being in the offensive zone.

Andrew Peeke Columbus Blue Jackets
Andrew Peeke, Columbus Blue Jackets (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Peeke could slide right onto a second pairing with Alex Goligoski. Goligoski’s offensive flair can complement Peeke’s stay-at-home defensive style and could become an effective pairing. They could be deployed in a variety of situations and not be an explicit shutdown pairing.

Interesting Fact/Stat: Peeke was a member of the 2017-18 U20 World Junior Championship bronze medal-winning USA team.

Jake Middleton would be a perfect shutdown defender to pair with Peeke, but he needs to be the casualty in this situation. With Matt Boldy’s contract extension kicking in for the 2023-24 season, as well as still having the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts on the books, they need to sacrifice some younger talent to get other young talent. Middleton plus a mid-to-high pick (second round to fourth round range) for Peeke with some salary retained could get the deal done. If the Wild are fine with adding $200,000 in salary, then adding a fifth or sixth-rounder makes sense.

Jack Roslovic

Jack Roslovic is a 26-year-old center who has yet to truly find his groove with two different NHL clubs. In 77 games this season he recorded 11 goals and 33 assists for 44 points. Nine of those points were on the power play while earning 16:27 TOI. Over his career, he is a 0.49 points per game (P/GP) player.

Jack Roslovic Columbus Blue Jackets
Jack Roslovic, Columbus Blue Jackets (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Any acquisition of Roslovic would automatically give him a shot at being in the Wild’s top six. That could be centering Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello or Marcus Johansson and Boldy. It may take a bit of time to find the right rhythm on the right line, though.

Interesting Fact/Stat: Roslovic was the American Hockey League (AHL) player of the month in November 2017.

Ryan Hartman is still in his prime and could make sense as part of a package sent to the Blue Jackets. Another prospect and/or pick might need to be involved in the deal. Adam Beckman or Marat Khusnutdinov make sense as young forward prospects that the Blue Jackets could add to their depth. Therefore, Hartman, Marat Khusnutdinov, and a 2025 second-round pick with 50 percent retained feels right as a package going the other way.

Related: Red Wings’ 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: Vancouver Canucks

The Blue Jackets need a lot of work on their roster, but these trades would address a few small items for both teams. It would also give players like Roslovic and Hartman a change of scenery as both have had struggles with consistency in their play. It’s a long offseason for the two teams, so we will see what transpires between them.