The last trade on our list was a continuation of the early part of this rebuild. The Jackets sent away their beloved captain, who had spent 599 games in a Union Blue sweater (fourth most all-time); sitting third in all-time scoring for the Jackets (334 points).
This one stung right away. It still stings, from time to time. In trading Nick Foligno, the heart and soul of this team was ripped out, effectively ending the Tortorella era and the successful years that went with it in Columbus. Nick was Mr. Blue Jacket, the team’s captain through the most memorable stretch of seasons in franchise history. But, like Savard, he was an expiring asset on a team that was headed down the tube.
Traded on the same day as Savard, Foligno was sent to Toronto in a three-team deal, returning the Jackets another 1st round pick, along with a mid-round selection. Foligno’s days in Toronto did not go as planned; the injury bug caught up with him and he played just 7 regular season games, registering 4 assists. The playoffs weren’t much better; he appeared in 4 games and picked up 1 assist in yet another first round series loss for the Leafs.
As an unrestricted free agent, many thought it possible that Nick might return to the Jackets – but the rebuild was well under way at that point, and he opted to sign in Boston, where he’s been a Bruin ever since.
The Jackets turned that 2021 1st round selection (#25 overall) into Corson Ceulemans, who has become one of the top defense prospects in the system. The 4th round pick was eventually traded to Nashville in exchange for Mathieu Olivier – who has already given the Jackets more games played (41), goals (3), and points (7); than Foligno did the Leafs.
While I’d never make the comparison between Olivier and Foligno, it’s at least a little bit funny that the trade turned out this one-sided in favor of the Jackets. Even without that first round pick having played a single professional game to this point. Things just did not work for Nick in the blue and white, and he never scored a goal with the Leafs.
Though trading Foligno and Savard set this franchise on a completely different course, in the long run I think the sting will be well worth it. The Jackets have set themselves up with one of the top prospect pools in all of hockey, and their best years are yet to come. This year’s deadline will inevitably see them acting as sellers again; but if they can get anywhere near the same kind of returns, things will be fun again in no time.