The only reason I think the Jackets even consider trading Jenner at the trade deadline this year: someone wants to significantly overpay for his services.
Jenner is signed for three seasons after this one, with a very team-friendly $3.75m AAV contract. At 29 years old, he may be on the back-end of his prime … but he’s still in his prime, and the Blue Jackets shouldn’t have any desire to move him. That contract will age well because while he may lose a step by the 2025-26 season, he’s not a guy who has relied on speed for his game. He can still be a bull in front of the net in four years.
All of that said, if a team like Toronto comes along and wants to acquire Jenner for their middle-six, you have to listen. Any GM of a last place team should be willing to listen to every trade call, and look for opportunities to improve their team for the long-term. The best part about teams calling you to inquire about players? You can set the price as high as you want.
Let’s talk hypothetical for a moment: you have a player on the way out for whatever reason. Maybe he’s asked for a trade, maybe his contract is expiring, or maybe the club just feels the need to move on. If the Jackets were actively looking to trade Boone, I think the price would be around what they expect to get for Vladislav Gavrikov: a first round pick and another mid-round selection (think third or fourth round).
But since the Leafs are rumored to have come calling, Jarmo Kekalainen is in the position to ask for quite the haul. I can only guess that the package might be something similar to what the Lightning gave up for Brandon Hagel last year: two first round picks and two prospects who were recently selected in the second round.
The two are similar players in style, but there are some differences between Hagel and Jenner. Notably, Hagel is six years younger, and has less than half of the contract hit that comes with Jenner. But that might honestly be to the advantage of the Blue Jackets here, because it’s not often that a team can go out and acquire a cost-controlled player in his prime, who is captaining another NHL team. That kind of experience could be extremely valuable to the Leafs in a 7-game playoff series.
The other major difference here: the Blackhawks were actively trying to trade Hagel, and I don’t believe that to be the case with the Blue Jackets and Jenner. So Jarmo Kekalainen can set his price and hold firm because, well, we didn’t want to trade him anyway. You either come out of this with a ridiculous overpayment by the other side, or you keep your captain. From the Leafs that probably means their next two first round picks, plus something like Nick Robertson and Matthew Knies, or Fraser Minten. It’s a huge cost, but is it worth it? Would it put them over the top?
Whichever outcome occurs, I don’t see this as a losing situation for the Blue Jackets. Boone is far more important to this team, than any perceived trade value from the outside. He’ll only be traded if someone wants to throw the entire farm at us.