Columbus Blue Jackets: Markus Nutivaara vs. Scott Harrington

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 16: Markus Nutivaara
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 16: Markus Nutivaara /

Gabriel Carlsson on injured reserve for a few games provides an interesting showdown for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third pairing.

The loss of Gabriel Carlsson with an upper body injury opens the door for Columbus Blue Jackets to integrate 2016-17 surprise Markus Nutivaara into the defensive rotation. Nuti will certainly get some time on the third pair with Ryan Murray this week. He found success there last year and played a solid 66 games in union blue as a rookie.

But Kingston, Ontario native Scott Harrington will get his opportunity as well. Harrington has drawn into one game thus far this year following Carlsson’s injury. He has spent the rest of the season as the seventh d-man.

Many would like to see Carlsson spend a year in Cleveland. After all, he only played seven games in the NHL last season. Transitioning from Sweden is difficult, especially as a 20-year-old.

Columbus Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets /

Columbus Blue Jackets

But Carlsson will draw back into the third pairing when he is healthy. The organization likes him a lot in the NHL, and so do I. I don’t see Carlsson being sent down.

That leaves Markus Nutivaara and Scott Harrington with a chance to battle it–kind of. Nuti is in a situation where he doesn’t have to clear waivers to go back to Cleveland–he does if he plays four more CBJ games, but not currently. Harrington does though immediately. The Columbus Blue Jackets value Harrington enough to not want to risk losing him to a waiver pickup, which would likely happen.

But who is a better defenseman for this team?

Answer: Nuti, of course

Yeah, this is an easy answer. Nutivaara is a better player all around and fits better with the Blue Jackets’ style. He is a better skater than Harrington and a better passer. Neither have above-average offensive abilities but Nutivaara has a better offensive game.

Harrington plays more physical than Nuti but most would agree that Nuti is still stronger on the defensive side of the puck. Mostly because he doesn’t make as many egregious errors like Harrington is prone to make.

But again this conversation is all for none because the Jackets don’t want to lose Harrington for nothing.

But the Jackets must prepare for losing an NHL defenseman. And not due to injury.

Murray Trade Bait Still

Ryan Murray could leave the Jackets at any time, leaving a whole that would need to be filled by either Nuti or Harrington. The Jackets are reportedly still in trade talks as they look to add a center to the lineup. Almost any trade would likely include Murray.

Related Story: Who CBJ Could Trade For

And Murray has certainly helped his trade stock. He has played well through five games with a rookie in his pair.

Nuti staying sharp and proving himself in this short stint in the NHL could go along way to ensuring he fills Murray’s spot if a trade happens. His time in Columbus this week will be invaluable.