The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Mathieu Olivier from the Nashville Predators on Thursday evening, in exchange for a fourth round pick (#122) in next week’s NHL Draft. This was the pick originally thrown into the Nick Foligno trade at the 2021 trade deadline, and leaves the Blue Jackets with six picks total in the draft, including two in the first round (#6, #12); and one each in rounds 2 (#44), 3 (#96), 4 (#109), and 7 (#203).
At a glance, the Blue Jackets acquiring a player like Olivier might seem like a minor move. He was an undrafted player who has bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL for the last three seasons, and in 46 NHL games played has just 3 goals and 7 points. But, this trade isn’t for a player to play on the second power play unit. It’s even possible Olivier spends a lot of his time in the press box. So why give up a fourth round pick for a guy who doesn’t push for a ton of ice time?
Simple: he can fight. Olivier fills a massive hole for the Blue Jackets, who lacked toughness last season, especially after trading away Max Domi. GM Jarmo Kekalainen just gave this team a player who will handle its dirty work, without parting with a player from the active roster. Olivier doesn’t need to play big minutes to be effective. On the flip side, he also won’t completely tank the team’s fourth line when he’s on the ice. I can see him playing alongside Sean Kuraly and Eric Robinson as needed; that line could give the Blue Jackets a responsible, heavy, straight up and down impact. He even fits right into the team’s competitive age group, at 25 years old.
While not a hulking reminder of the enforcers of yesterday, Olivier stands 6-2 and weighs in around 210 pounds. He plays the game hard and will make this team immediately more respectable, especially in the more physical matchups against teams like Minnesota (remember this?) (or this?). Having a player like this on your roster makes guys think twice before throwing certain hits or saying certain things.
In a league that seems to be devolving back to its more physical days, it seems like every team is going to need to have one or two of these guys around “just in case”. The last thing you want on a young, talented team, is one of your star players getting knocked out of physical games. This acquisition takes a huge step toward preventing that from happening.
In the end you give up a fourth round selection at the draft – which can be a hit or miss – and acquire a player who will play in the NHL this season. It’s a perfect trade for the Blue Jackets, bringing much needed toughness, without giving up too much.