The Jackets have firmly established themselves as “sellers” at this year’s NHL trade deadline (March 3rd). Near the bottom of the overall standings, the team will look to parlay players on expiring contracts – or who they simply don’t see as long-term solutions here – for futures. One player who is an obvious trade candidate: Gustav Nyquist.
It’s not that the club and player are on any sort of outs here. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Signed to a four year contract to help the team replace some of the production it lost during the mass exodus of 2019, Nyquist has been pretty much everything advertised.
Though he missed the entire 2020-21 season due to injury, he’s otherwise been pretty healthy. In fact, he’s the only Jacket to play in all 82 games last season, and all 42 this year. He’s skated in 194 regular season games with the Jackets, scoring 41 goals and 113 points, while being a much needed veteran voice who plays in all situations.
But as these things go, being a pending UFA on one of the worst teams in the league, likely means Nyquist is going to be dealt. At 33 years old and carrying a $5.5m cap hit, he may not return prime assets such as first round picks or top prospects; but it is reasonable to think that a quality middle-six guy like this will return a couple of mid-level assets.
If Jarmo Kekalainen can swing a deal and return a second round pick plus something else, that’s a big win for this franchise. That could be possible if a third “cap broker” team is involved. Though, if the Jackets just want to get something in return for him, I can see the return being lower – say, third and fourth round picks.
The likely suitors for Nyquist are teams that are in the hunt for the Stanley Cup, but need to add some depth and secondary scoring to their lineups. I took these things into heavy consideration here, while also thinking about past tendencies. Some teams load up for their playoff runs, while others prefer to avoid making big splashes at the deadline.
With all of that aside, lets take a look at some of the teams that might want to get involved in a trade for Gus.