They come away with Leo Carlsson or Will Smith at the draft – great! But, neither of these guys are going to play in the NHL until 2024, and probably not in prominent roles for another 1-2 years after that. So what do they do in the meantime?
In my opinion, they need to add at least two centers, and preferably guys who are going to play in the top-six. This is no easy task, and it’s going to be expensive. But, the good news here: they have plenty of assets to spare.
Let’s make a deal…
Swing over to capfriendly.com and check out some of the teams who are either at the cap, or right near the cap … with rosters that don’t have enough bodies to even ice a team, or restricted free agents that they’ll really want to keep. The New York Islanders are one team who have too many centers, and a clear need for right hand shooting defensemen, for example…
It’s evident that in a year when the cap will remain almost flat, there are more than a few teams who are going to be selling good players for pennies on the dollar. One thing Jarmo Kekalainen has done a terrific job of: keeping money aside to address other areas of the lineup. With so many young assets set to battle for jobs this fall, he’s in prime position to strike with a big trade, taking advantage of the situation. Here are the players legitimately competing for jobs with the Jackets this fall, with the bolded names being locks:
Forwards: Johnny Gaudreau, Boone Jenner, Patrik Laine, Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko, Jack Roslovic, Sean Kuraly, Eric Robinson, Alexandre Texier, Cole Sillinger, Emil Bemstrom, Liam Foudy, Mathieu Olivier, Justin Danforth, Hunter McKown, Dmitri Voronkov, Yegor Chinakhov, Trey Fix-Wolansky … and these are just the guys already under contract. Do they extend Brendan Gaunce, Josh Dunne, or Carson Meyer?
Defense: Zach Werenski, Jake Bean, Damon Severson, Ivan Provorov, Erik Gudbranson, Andrew Peeke, Adam Boqvist, Tim Berni, Nick Blankenburg, David Jiricek, Jake Christiansen.
The bolded names here gives us 13 forwards and 7 defensemen. This leaves us with just one more roster spot to try and fit in one of the guys not highlighted (13 names listed here). Two things to take away from this situation:
- There are too many bodies for too few roster spots. You have to find room for at least 2-3 of the players not highlighted; there are too many guys here who deserve to be in the NHL.
- There is a clear lack of top-two line centers.
If you were to put together a package around some of your secondary/young pieces, as well as future draft picks, you might be able to pluck away a legitimate top-six center. It will be costly, but the lists above prove that it’s not impossible for Jarmo to strike here. Side note: Jack Roslovic might be an ideal returning piece for a team that offloads a good center. He’s cheap, and a team could take a flyer on him to replace some of their lost productivity.