By the time the 2021 season was played, the Jackets were a much different team than the one that loaded up for a playoff run just two years prior. Gone were Panarin, Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky, Pierre-Luc Dubois … the list goes on and on. At the 2021 deadline, the team had grown stagnant and needed freshened up. So, GM Jarmo Kekalainen made two deals that kicked off the rebuild in earnest.
The Jackets traded beloved defenseman David Savard, who played more games on defense in a CBJ sweater than any other player in their history (597). Originally taken in the 4th round (#94 overall) all the way back in 2009, Savard went from high scoring junior player, to rugged, shot blocking, stay-at-home defenseman under John Tortorella.
On the ice, he could be maddening because of his sluggish skating or refusal to generate any kind of offense. But in reality, he was a reliable defender who quietly took the toughest assignments, mostly stayed healthy, and did whatever it took to help his team win. And then, every so often, that skill would make a brief appearance and he would score a goal like this.
Off the ice, he was adored both amongst teammates and the fans alike. You could spot his beard from a mile away, and he was always willing to engage and sign autographs or have a quick chat. But as things go, eventually teams need to reset, and so the Jackets sent him down to Tampa Bay in exchange for a couple of futures.
This trade turned out to be an absolute win for both sides. The Lightning would use Savard in a depth role and go on to win their second straight Stanley Cup that summer. Regardless the outcome of the draft picks, that is the ultimate goal.
The Jackets would trade that 32nd overall selection (Nolan Allen) at the 2021 draft as part of the Seth Jones deal; eventually acquiring two first round picks (Cole Sillinger, David Jiricek) from the Blackhawks in that trade. The 2022 third round pick in this deal? That was used to select Jordan Dumais, who is currently leading the entire CHL in scoring.
So to summarize, the Jackets were able to turn a 30 year old, second pairing defenseman – on an expiring contract – into some combination of Dumais, Sillinger, and/or Jiricek. These are the kind of moves that, eventually, turn teams into contenders.
And that wasn’t the only one Jarmo made at the 2021 deadline…