Trading Gustav Nyquist could be a tricky proposition for Kekalainen and Co. The longtime GM has made it crystal clear that he doesn’t intend to strip the Blue Jackets roster down to the floorboards. He wants to at least stick around in games, even if that means missing out on possible top-five picks in the draft.
Veterans like Nyquist are integral as the Blue Jackets try to maintain a winning culture while hovering around the .500 mark. Once losing becomes part of a team’s DNA and acceptable, it can take years to get rid of. Nyquist alone isn’t holding that stink back, but his work ethic during practices and off the ice gives young players like Cole Sillinger an example to follow. A high bar to clear, if you will.
Is that more important to Columbus than another selection in the first two rounds of one of the next two drafts? Nyquist isn’t a rental and has another year on his deal, which carries a $5.5 million cap hit.
If the Blue Jackets ate half of that salary, a first-round pick from a high-end team looking to win a Stanley Cup this year or next wouldn’t be out of the question. Trading Nyquist would leave a void in terms of professionalism, however.
He’s a realistic trade target because if a contender comes knocking with B-range futures, the Blue Jackets would almost have to listen. It’d be difficult to see a pro of his caliber skating elsewhere in 2022-23, however.