The Blue Jackets made a waiver claim over the weekend, picking up forward Lane Pederson from the Vancouver Canucks. This is a move that can fly under the radar, but in this case I think it’s a sign that we’re about to see some changes made to the Jacket roster in the near future.
Pederson is a talented player who has been highly productive in the AHL, with 166 points in 227 games over the last six seasons. But this production hasn’t carried over to the NHL thus far: he has just 8 points in 55 games split between Arizona, San Jose, and Vancouver.
The Jackets decided to take a flyer on Pederson after playing against him Friday night, bringing in a player who can play center, adding depth to a position of need within the organization. He’s signed to a league-minimum contract ($750k, RFA after this season) so it’s an easy one to put onto the books, and he cost virtually nothing to pick up.
It would be easy to look at the injuries to the Jacket roster and say that Pederson is a plug-in until one of Gustav Nyquist, Jakub Voracek, Justin Danforth, Yegor Chinakhov, or Carson Meyer can return. But, there are a number of guys playing in the AHL, patiently waiting their turn. In a lost season, they could just call guys up from Cleveland and plug them in to get a look at them in the big league. So why claim Pederson?
My gut says, this decision is multi-faceted. First, I think the team saw a need to add another skill player down the middle. Not to say that Lane Pederson is going to play between Patrik Laine and Johnny Gaudreau on the top line, but he could step into a job lower in the lineup and be a productive player.
Offense down the middle is sorely needed – the four regular centers for the Jackets (Boone Jenner, Jack Roslovic, Cole Sillinger, and Sean Kuraly) have combined for just 29 goals and 73 points this season. Roslovic’s 27 points leads the way, and is good enough for a tie for 71st place in the league amongst centers. That’s not good.
Secondly, I think the team saw a need to add a body as the trade deadline approaches. There’s no secret that they’re shopping Nyquist, and hopefully his recent injury doesn’t derail things there. But, is it possible that they’re listening to offers on a player like Roslovic? Pederson would be an obvious plug and play fit here – while he’s obviously not on the same level as Roslovic as far as productivity, he’s a right handed shot who plays a similar brand of hockey.
Or, perhaps the team is looking to send down a player like Cole Sillinger, to spend some time in the AHL and regain his confidence? He has struggled mightily this season, and a stretch run with the Monsters could be just what he needs to find his game again.
No matter how you shake it up, this feels like a well-thought out move that is part of a larger plan. All season long we’ve seen players hit waivers and pass by the Jackets without a claim, so for the team to take this player, at this time, is interesting to say the least.