The more likely option, if the team is going to find a quality center that can play with this group longer term: a big trade. And as they say, to get good players, you have to give up good players. Fortunately for the Blue Jackets, there is no better time for a massive trade that could alter the course of the franchise. Whether it takes place or not is yet to be seen, but they have the assets to do it, and Jarmo has done it in the past.
When you look at the current construction of the roster, there are some obvious players that could be used to upgrade the team in other positions. I’m not talking about Emil Bemstrom (who I fully expect to be dealt for a draft pick), or Eric Robinson (you need depth players here). I think this is the kind of offseason where we’ll see a trade that will shake this roster’s core up, with an eye towards a top defenseman to play alongside Zach Werenski – or, more likely, an age-similar center to play with Patrik Laine and Kent Johnson on the team’s top line.
My hot take? There are two players who I have a hard time placing in the lineup long term. I think these two players will be (or already have been) passed up by younger, less expensive talent. And, I think they are luxury depth pieces here, that could be valuable to cap strapped teams, who may need to add depth and shed current, or future salary. In a flat cap world, these guys are still team controlled for another 1-2 years, giving a Cup contender some quality young depth to put right into their lineup.
I’m talking about Alexandre Texier and Jake Bean. As mentioned at the offset of the article, Bean is a player that is buried and might be held back by playing for the Blue Jackets. He’s at least third on the depth chart both for left defensemen (Zach Werenski, Vladislav Gavrikov), and for power play time, behind Werenski and Adam Boqvist. He’s not awful defensively, but he still needs time to mature and get stronger, but even in his prime I don’t see him as a shutdown player. That said, he’s better than third pairing minutes, and could be a great addition to a team needing a second power play quarterback.
Texier was flying high and looked to be breaking out, before a broken finger and personal situation sidelined him for the last half of the 2021-22 season. But he hasn’t been consistent enough at center, and certainly looked more comfortable on the wing, when the game was simplified for him. He’s a good young player who could be a 20 goal, 50 point guy in the NHL … but as a winger. For a team carrying so many talented young wingers, he’s a hard player to place in the long-term. Immediately, I would put him behind Laine, Voracek, Nyquist, Bjorkstrand, and perhaps even Johnson and Jenner (assuming both are used on the wing). That’s without Kirill Marchenko, who I think could also compete for time in the top-six this season. And, Yegor Chinakhov, who stood out in a lot of good ways last year. Keeping Texier around, might stunt the development of two of the best young wingers the team has had in recent years.
I don’t see them dealing a player like Bjorkstrand, who wears a letter and is locked up longer-term. I don’t think there would be a ton of offseason interest in a player like Nyquist … that’s a deadline deal, if you look to move him. For these reasons, I think you have to weed out the players that don’t fit into the makeup of this roster immediately and for the future. To me, Texier and Bean are those players.
Now, it’s tough to pinpoint which teams might be looking to deal the kind of center the Blue Jackets would be looking for. But, if the Jackets were willing to ante up with Texier, Bean, and something like the #12 overall pick? I think there would be some teams willing to listen to offers. The improved roster could be very solid:
What do you think? We would love to hear your trade ideas, comment below!