The Columbus Blue Jackets have developed a bit of a nasty habit of letting players get away from them just before breaking out. Trading Alexandre Texier at this stage of his development would be a grave misstep for general manager Jarmo Kekalainen that would fall in line with the William Karlsson and Anthony Duclair whiffs.
Yet that’s exactly what Frank Seravalli of DailyFaceoff.com is reporting that the Blue Jackets are doing. “Taking calls” on Texier.
Now, it’s important to think of the context that Karlsson and Duclair are succeeding in, but the fact remains that they weren’t given ample chances to perform to those heights while in Columbus. The former averaged just over 13 minutes of ice time during his final year with the Blue Jackets, while Duclair barely cracked 12.
Texier’s time on ice this year hasn’t been quite that low—he’s sitting at 14:36 on average, which is still less than the 15:50 he saw a year ago—but giving up on him now would not be wise for Kekalainen. Especially since he is so steadfastly against the idea of stripping things down to the floorboards for a full-on rebuild.
“We called it a ‘reset’ for a reason,” the GM recently told Aaron Portzline of The Athletic. The longtime Blue Jackets beat writer went on to write that “…if you want to see a Finn’s blood boil, mention tanking.”
OK, fine. Columbus isn’t actively tanking in the name of a higher draft pick. All the more reason to hang onto a 22-year-old cost-controlled forward. His current deal doesn’t expire until the end of next season, and he’ll still be an RFA at that juncture.
Barring some massive overpay, it’d make absolutely zero sense for the Blue Jackets to move Texier now. We’d even argue that adding another pick late in the first round wouldn’t be enough to make this kind of trade worth it for the Blue Jackets.
Seravalli is reporting that the team is asking for a first-round pick and a roster player; if that roster player isn’t a top-six lock, then this should be a hard pass for an organization that needs as much homegrown talent as it can get.
We aren’t trying to say that Texier doesn’t have shortcomings as a player. He isn’t the best in his own zone, but the Blue Jackets don’t roster a single player with an XGF% over 50 percent (only looking at skaters with more than 400 minutes played). And, in reality, among that group of 12 forwards, Texier’s XGF% of 44.21 ranks eighth—above top-line options, Boone Jenner and Patrik Laine.
There’s room for improvement at 5-on-5, but the impact Texier has as a penalty killer indicates that he has the IQ to get better here. Shayna Goldman of The Athletic recently took an (incredibly insightful and interesting) dive into players who generate offense while killing penalties. As it turns out, no one in the entire NHL generates more chances while down a skater.
This isn’t the kind of skill set you trade away for futures. Texier is the kind of player you’d hope to land towards the end of the first round: a hard-working, versatile skater with a decently high skill ceiling. If he manages to stay healthy, seeing a 25-plus goal, 50-plus point campaign wouldn’t be out of the question for the native of St. Martin D’heres, France. The ship may have sailed on the idea of him as a top-six center, but the fact that he was even considered for that role as recently as this offseason shows just how much upside he has.
If the Blue Jackets traded Texier, it’d be taking two steps back just to take one step forward at the 2022 or 2023 draft. Again, unless the Nashville Predators see him as a central piece in a Filip Forsberg trade or something incredibly unlikely such as that, this is a useful player that Columbus should be investing in. Not sending out to another team, where he’d almost certainly blossom into a player that the Blue Jackets would regret giving up on too early.
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