Alexandre Texier a Big Part of Future for Blue Jackets

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

With Frank Seravalli reporting that the Columbus Blue Jackets are taking calls on Alexandre Texier, plenty of fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets were pretty surprised. With good reason, as “Tex” seemed to be breaking out in a big way before suffering a finger injury, which has kept him sidelined for the last month.

Starting the season as the team’s de facto top-line center, Texier struggled to find his game, taking demotions down the lineup. He eventually wound up as the fourth line right wing, on a line with Sean Kuraly and Eric Robinson.

In that role, something seemed to click and he found his groove both offensively and defensively, rattling off nine goals and 18 points, in 22 games between November 6th, and January 13th—while also spending time on the penalty kill.

Why Trade Alexandre Texier Now?

Clearly, Texier is a player the Blue Jackets really liked. They traded former third-round pick Keegan Kolesar (a pretty good player now for the Vegas Golden Knights), for the second-round pick they used to secure him. They brought him over for the 2019 playoff run and he did not disappoint, jumping straight into the lineup and onto the second power-play unit, scoring a memorable goal in the process.

Now, I don’t think it’s fair to assess a player too heavily for their performance through the pandemic, and it’s evident that Texier really struggled to find his way, playing 85 games, scoring just 10 goals and 28 points in the process.

He came out of the gate flying in 2020-21, scoring four goals and five points through the first seven games, before only adding 10 more points (all assists) over the final 42.

So why would Jarmo be listening to calls on Texier at this point? He finally seems to be breaking out, though his production this season is book-ended by a combined 14 games in which Texier has just two goals and no assists.

It’s Too Soon To Give Up On Alexandre Texier

What has stood out to me this year, is his energy. He seems to be quicker on the ice and into battles. He’s done a good job of using his speed to generate off the rush, pushing back defenders and opening up chances. He’s been a competitor on the forecheck, going into the difficult areas and often coming away with the puck. He has silky smooth hands (though let’s be honest, he needs another shootout move), and a quick release.

Surely, at just 23 years old, he’s already making a case for himself as a middle-six forward and is one of the most successful second-round picks the team has ever had. It’s hard to rationalize trading away a guy like this when you’re mired in a rebuild, as noted by our own Franklin Steele.

"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."

One argument I’ve seen from a few people is that there won’t be room for Texier once the younger prospects come along. That may be true, however, we should be cautious and remember a couple of things in that regard.

First, until guys like Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko or Tyler Angle, actually make the team and become productive players, they are still prospects. For that reason, you can’t justify trading viable young NHL players to make room for them. What if one of them doesn’t work out? What if someone gets injured in the interim? For these reasons, pro-level players are extremely valuable … especially when they are bringing energy and producing, and even more so when they are only 23.

Where Alexandre Texier Could Fit In Long Term

The last thing to consider here: What if all of the prospects do work out?

Johnson becomes an 80 point first-line player. Marchenko becomes a first-line player. Yegor Chinakhov and Patrik Laine both score 40 goals. What do you do when all of their contract negotiations hit within a year or two?

For this reason, you need to have viable middle-six options. My argument here is that Texier could be locked up for the intermediate-long term, as part of the core of this team, at a reasonable hit.

How does the roster break down without him, say in two years? If Laine is signed, you’re probably looking at a top line of Laine-Sillinger-Johnson. A second line with Bjorkstrand, another center and Marchenko.

After that, you only have Boone Jenner, Eric Robinson and Sean Kuraly with NHL experience, who are still under contract. Sure you can add Tyler Angle, Trey Fix-Wolansky, Josh Dunne, Liam Foudy, or any other prospect to this list … but how much better does the lineup look if you pencil in Texier? He could be part of a strong third line, with Jenner and another speedy winger on the other side. Maybe he even slots in as that question mark second-line center?

While I don’t think it’s fair to say that Texier has hit his ceiling (with several interrupted developmental seasons included); I do not think he has top-line potential, at least not for the long term. He looks like he could be a solid, 25 goal/50 point guy, who plays at both ends of the rink. There are worse players the Blue Jackets could have, really. My hope is that, if Jarmo Kekalainen really is taking calls on Texier, the return should be significant enough to put our concerns at ease immediately. Because the last thing this team needs is to give up on another young player before he hits his stride.

Really, I think pretty highly of Texier, but I also know that Jarmo has his thumb on the pulse and that any decision he makes, will help this team in the longer term. If he’s trading this player away, it leads me to believe that there is something big in the works. Either way, it sure seems to be shaping up as an interesting trade deadline for the Blue Jackets this season.