It sure seems like the Jackets want to get this head coaching hire out of the way before the draft, and it totally makes sense. The coach they hire may affect the player they target at third overall, and they might want to have the coach’s say on that player.
But more importantly, it seems like they want to get this coaching hiring done so they can turn their attention to overhauling the roster. Some of this work needs to be done before the draft, which is exactly 30 days from today. I say this knowing that they want to flip their second first round pick for immediate help. The trade may not happen until they are on the draft floor, but the framework for these deals is usually put in place well in advance.
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The LA Kings First Rounder is Traded – But Not for a Defenseman
Jarmo has gone as far as saying that he would trade this pick for immediate help. They want to replace Vladislav Gavrikov on the back end, who was in fact the player traded for this pick. But, teams aren’t exactly lining up to trade top-four defensemen with term, so I fear the Jackets will be diving into the free agent pile to sign one instead. There will be options there.
For the purpose of this asset, the Jackets make a deal for a top-two line center. As far as which center they got after, we can only speculate. But, consider the fact that the salary cap will again remain mostly flat (expected $1.5-$2.0 million increase) – and how many teams are pushed right up against it, with the need to add players to fill out their rosters.
And, on top of that, you have several teams who are outspoken about wanting to reset their roster, or get younger in general. One team I’m keeping a close eye on is the Calgary Flames. New GM Craig Conroy spoke honestly about wanting to get younger, also adding that he would not let top talent walk for nothing.
One quick look at their roster situation gives you an idea of where they might be looking to trim some fat – and save some ugly negotiations later. In particular, look at their centers. You have Nazem Kadri for the next six seasons, paid like a top line center. Mikael Backlund, rumored to be their next captain, will certainly be getting a nice extension soon.
Where does that leave Elias Lindholm? If the team wants to get younger, paying three centers at the levels it will take to keep them all well into their 30s, seems counterintuitive. Could that leave Lindholm on the outside looking in? Will Conroy look to deal him with a year left on his deal, to maximize return value? Could the Jackets put together a package of young assets that the Flames might like?
You get the idea. Naturally, we could say the same thing about defenseman Noah Hanifin; but the Flames would be wise to lock him up longer-term. They have a lot of impending UFA defensemen there, and he’s a legit top-four guy that they could build around. If they don’t want to, then he should be a guy high on Jarmo’s list of targets as well.