Now that the Stanley Cup has been awarded, we can fully turn our attention to the off-season. For the Blue Jackets, the off-season has already kickstarted with the acquisition of two veteran defensemen. Now, they would be wise to add a center or two – and perhaps no team makes more sense for a trade than the New York Islanders.
If I were to compare Jarmo Kekalainen to any other GM in the NHL, Lou Lamoriello might be my choice. Not because Jarmo has had the same level of success; but the two share some common bonds here. Both guys play their cards extremely close to their chests, and don’t use words unless they absolutely know what the outcome is going to be.
Jarmo has been vocal about wanting to improve the Blue Jackets roster on defense and down the middle, which meets the criteria for another potential big trade. After adding Ivan Provorov and, more notably for the purpose of discussion here, Damon Severson – the Jackets have no fewer than six guys playing for three jobs on the right side of the defense. Severson joins Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke, Erik Gudbranson, Nick Blankenburg, and David Jiricek as players who will look to lay claim to ice time next season.
Meanwhile, Lou casually talked in the Islanders’ end of season presser, about the team having too many centers. Something has to give for them, with Matt Barzal, Bo Horvat, Brock Nelson, J-G Pageau, and Casey Cizikas all vying for playing time at the position. The Islanders are also somewhat thin on the right side of their defense, with departing UFA Scott Mayfield leaving a hole there.
The fit is pretty obvious for both teams in this situation. The only questions I have here are, which center might the Islanders be willing to trade? And, which defenseman doesn’t fit in with the Blue Jackets long-term?
Right off the bat, let’s cross Severson – just acquired and signed – off the list. We can also cross off Gudbranson, because with his contract, there’s no value to the Islanders in a trade. Jiricek is a non-starter in any trade discussion as well. So, this leaves us with three: Boqvist, Peeke, and Blankenburg. I could honestly see the Islanders having interest in any of the three … so, what kind of trade could we make?