Our last bold predictions go hand-in-hand. The Jackets will be working hard to improve their back end this summer, which should help the goaltending and in turn, improve the team immensely.
If you’ve kept up so far, we have talked about dealing the LA first round pick for immediate center help. We also mentioned the team diving into free agency for that second pairing defenseman, to tide them over until the prospects come along. But, do they like their options there?
The Jackets Avoid a Big Free Agent Splash and Make a Blockbuster Trade Instead
We’ve heard the clichés quite a bit over the years. Build from the draft. Take advantage of cash-strapped teams. Brick by brick.
My prediction here is that the Jackets aren’t enamored enough by any of the free agent defensemen. Maybe they’re asking for too much money or term to make Jarmo comfortable. Or maybe, he just doesn’t like the fit. So, he goes back to working the phone and drums up a blockbuster deal to land a building block defenseman that helps this team immediately, and into the future.
This kind of move would hit all three of the cliché boxes I mentioned above. He could use some of their future draft capital, and prospects, to go out and get a legitimate top-four defenseman with some term, from a team who needs to clear cap space from their own roster.
The kind of trade I have in mind is almost certainly not going to be popular with everyone. In fact, I think it would surely involve dealing one or more of your favorite players/prospects from the current roster/system, in a real swing for the fences.
With the quality of prospects they have, the logjam of forwards returning next year – especially in the bottom six – and the strength on the right side of the defense corps; the Jackets deal from a position of strength to address a position of weakness. They pluck away a left hand shot D that can play on the second pairing, or fill in on the top pairing in case the unthinkable happens with injuries again this year.
As far as which player that is, I can only speculate. But, I’m quick to point out that nobody saw Jarmo acquiring Seth Jones, or Brandon Saad. Or after that, Artemi Panarin. He has a knack for putting out feelers and making moves when they make sense, which is what we’re counting on here.
Bonus Prediction: Jack Roslovic Will be Involved
Just a gut feeling/hunch here. Jack has been a somewhat productive player in his time here, but if they’re adding a center to this team, which we fully expect them to do – I would not be surprised to see Roslovic involved in that deal, going the other way. The experiment has to come to an end at some point; I don’t see them extending him, and the Jackets shouldn’t just let the asset expire.