Jarmo Kekalainen has not been shy when it comes to improving this team for the longer-term. One thing I love about this management regime: they’re in on the big names. Is it possible that the Jackets could actually go out and add a piece at the deadline? Absolutely. Is is likely? I’m not so sure.
We’ve beaten the Jakob Chychrun rumors to death this year, and that cloud still hangs in the air over our heads. I think there is something to that rumor, especially since the Coyotes have not yet moved Chychrun – they may be waiting to see what kind of package the Jackets get for Gavrikov, before making a final decision. That could help their decision process in a couple of ways.
Beyond the Chychrun rumors, we have to talk about the other names who are popping up for the Jackets. Let’s start with Boone Jenner.
Take all of the facts into consideration here: Jenner is nearing the tail end of his prime, and is signed for three more seasons after this one, with a team-friendly cap hit of $3.75m AAV. He’s currently the team’s top line center and captain, leading the way with 18 goals this year. In short, I have a really hard time seeing this player dealt … but it’s not impossible.
I have two comparable trades to look at here, both within the last week. First, look at what the Leafs gave up for Ryan O’Reilly. Boone is three years younger, has 3 more goals, 10 more points, and is under team control, at a lower cap hit, for three more years – whereas O’Reilly is a UFA. Then, look back at what Tampa Bay traded for Tanner Jeannot. This is an example of a player that Nashville didn’t necessarily want to trade, so the Lightning had to go well above and beyond what they might typically give up for a player of this caliber.
If the Jackets were to trade Jenner, I would expect Jarmo to ask for a huge bounty here. In the case of Jeannot, basically an entire draft class was dealt. Can you really ignore a team when they’re throwing that much value at a guy who is ultimately a depth player on a good team?
The other name we’re hearing in the rumors is defenseman Andrew Peeke. The big, stay-at-home defender’s new three-year contract kicks in next season with a $2.75m AAV, which is palatable for any team in the league who needs a reliable bottom-four defenseman.
Why would the Jackets move a good, young asset like Peeke? Too many bodies for one position. The list of right-hand shot defensemen that are signed here next year are: Peeke, Erik Gudbranson, Adam Boqvist, Nick Blankenburg, and upcomer David Jiricek. Billy Sweezey is signed for one more year as depth, and Marcus Bjork is an RFA that the team could look to bring back as well. That’s 5 players battling for 3-4 roster spots, not including the depth players that could be recalled in a bind.
In reality, I have a hard time seeing Peeke dealt this week. This team is just too thin on defense already – but, I would not be surprised if he or one of the other right-hand shooters on our blue line are dealt this summer. Ultimately, I do think this will still be a busy week for the Jackets, and we’ll do our best to keep you posted with news and notes as moves are made.