A certain beat writer covering the Columbus Blue Jackets offered up a tasty rumor on Thursday night: but how likely is it that the Blue Jackets trade the third overall pick?
This one rattled the fanbase throughout social media the moment it was put out. Blue Jacket fans were quite vocal immediately about the potential fallout of a deal like this – and really, we’re right to be concerned.
But the important thing to remember here is, it’s a rumor from one reporter. Whether you trust him as a reliable source or not is fully up to you, but at this point it really feels like baseless speculation. GM Jarmo Kekalainen and team President John Davidson have both been adamant that this pick would be used to secure the top line future of this team, and I expect them to do just that.
What I don’t expect, is for them to trade this pick for a 28 year old who is one year away from unrestricted free agency. In fact, that would be such poor asset management, that it would call for an immediate changing of the guard here, should it happen.
The fact of the matter is, as good as Elias Lindholm has been for the Calgary Flames, he’s still in what I would consider to be the bottom half of first line centers in the NHL. There are 32 teams in the league, and I have little difficulty finding 16 centers who I would rather have leading the way than him.
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He’s a phenomenal two-way player, who has shown capable of scoring at a point-per-game pace. But is he worth a third overall pick in a draft as loaded as this one? Hardly. Whether it’s Leo Carlsson, Will Smith, or by the grace of luck Adam Fantilli; there’s no way I’m giving up that pick for a guy who has just a handful of good seasons left in the tank – and, mind you, at a cap hit that will probably exceed Bo Horvat’s recent $8.5m AAV extension.
Whichever player you draft third overall, probably steps into the lineup within 1-2 years and soon after produces at a similar level to Elias Lindholm – and at an ELC cap hit. Why would you add an aging asset to a roster whose competitive core is at least 2-3 years away from maturity? It would make zero sense.
For these reasons, the Blue Jackets would be absolutely bonkers to trade this pick. Even with an extension in place. The only way I would even consider trading this pick in any realm of possibility, would be in a scenario where they can move up in the draft order – or, if someone wants to offer an under-25 player who is a legitimate top line talent in the league already. Let’s be honest: trading this pick for someone like Elias Lindholm is just absurd. Even as talented as he is.