This summer for the Columbus Blue Jackets will be unpredictable.
Throw out everything you know, or you think you know about the team. We will be proven wrong in the coming months. This roster could look dramatically different come training camp in September.
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Columbus Dispatch reporter Aaron Portzline chatted with fans on Thursday about a variety of topics, including Nick Foligno’s captaincy, and offseason moves that could come. I was expecting to see the normal stuff from fans. Then, about halfway into the 1 hour chat, Portzline said the following, in which I almost flew out of my chair: “I would not be surprised to see Cam Atkinson traded this summer.”
I was caught off guard as soon as I saw this. My immediate reaction was, “He just signed a new contract on trade deadline day. There’s no way he gets traded now. Even management has said Atkinson was part of the core of this team.”
But, the more I think about it, the more this could come to pass. I’m not saying it will. I’m saying that given the right circumstances, an Atkinson deal could happen.
Should Columbus Trade Atkinson?
Personally, I don’t want to see this deal happen. He is the best right-winger on the roster. To give him up in a deal means having Rene Bourque and David Clarkson as your best right wingers. The team already needs an upgrade in that position. Giving up your best player there doesn’t make sense.
But truth be told, Atkinson has value now. The team has made clear that they are looking for a defenseman, even throwing out Kerby Rychel’s name in possible trade talks.
Because of his new contract, Atkinson is an attractive option for teams looking for a right-winger. Atkinson turns 26 on June 5th, and is coming off a season in which he scored 22 goals. An under 30 forward going into possibly his best years will attract attention.
The fact remains, there is an excess of forwards on the Blue Jackets. As long as this is true, most anyone can be brought up in potential deals (except for the core players). Teams in need of a forward should have Columbus’ number on speed dial. They have ample supply, and are willing to deal.
Just because he signed a new contract on deadline day, doesn’t exclude Atkinson from being discussed. If it will improve the team in the sight of management, it will be considered.
Unless there is a Plan B, Cam Atkinson should not be traded. He’s the best player in a position that needs improved. I think you can improve the team via trade without involving Cam Atkinson. If a team makes an offer Columbus can’t refuse, then of course, the trade will happen.
But he’s just starting to hit his stride. Forwards who are in their mid 20s who are about to hit their prime don’t grow on trees. When training camp begins in September, Cam Atkinson needs to be a Blue Jacket.