Blue Jackets Center Trade Cannot Come at Expense of the Future

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Cole Sillinger #34 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena on November 20, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 20: Cole Sillinger #34 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena on November 20, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

There’s plenty of talk about the Blue Jackets adding another center to their roster this summer, and with good reason. They need someone that can play on the top two lines and provide them with a chance to compete each against the best. But, one thing I don’t want to see happen: this team mortgaging their bright future for a quick fix.

We’ve written ad nauseam about this version of the rebuild for the Jackets, and how it has to go right for the future of this franchise (and, most notably, their management staff). I think we can all agree that in order for this team to take the next step and become a playoff contender again, they need to add two top-six centers to the mix.

With that said, I think the most important thing that we can do here is to be patient. One of the issues that has plagued this franchise for its entire existence, is the need to improve immediately and get this team to compete for a playoff spot. I’m just like the rest of you – I want to see them playing when the games matter most, not sit around and wade through 5 months of summer without hockey.

But, what we have to realize here is that this team is really close as it’s assembled. And, the future is incredibly bright here, whether you want to believe it or not. Also, let’s not forget; the biggest mistakes teams often make are in free agency or via trade. While Jarmo has a great track record for making big trades that impact the roster, he’s also had some misses. We should be in no hurry to see another Erik Gudbranson-like contract thrown around in free agency.

With all of that in mind, do we really want to see this team out big game hunting for some of the players rumored to be available? Top centers are really hard to come by, so even a player like Elias Lindholm, who is nearing 30 and will be a UFA next summer, is going to come at a ridiculous cost. Yes, he’s a great two-way player. Yes, he and Johnny Gaudreau have a great history together … but are we really wanting to see this team throw a major package together, to get a guy who has only exceeded 60 points, three times in his career?

Apr 5, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm (28) skates into the Winnipeg Jets zone during the first period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2023; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm (28) skates into the Winnipeg Jets zone during the first period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

That kind of player definitely costs you your 2024 first round pick. He definitely costs you at least one of your top prospects (let’s say for argument’s sake, Cole Sillinger). He also definitely costs you another high draft pick or asset (Corson Ceulemans) – and probably one other roster player.

In my opinion, the Jackets are probably much better off keeping those assets, and maybe finding a different stop-gap option. Not to mention, a guy like Lindholm is going to want an 8-year contract north of $8 million AAV … really, when you think about the whole package, of where this team is versus where they’ll be in 2-3 years, it does not make sense. They have some good centers coming, it will just take time.

WINDSOR, ONTARIO – MARCH 04: Forward Luca Del Bel Belluz #73 of the Sarnia Sting skates against the Windsor Spitfires at WFCU Centre on March 04, 2023 in Windsor, Ontario. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
WINDSOR, ONTARIO – MARCH 04: Forward Luca Del Bel Belluz #73 of the Sarnia Sting skates against the Windsor Spitfires at WFCU Centre on March 04, 2023 in Windsor, Ontario. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images) /

They would be wise to find a more cost-effective option, that they can keep around for 2-4 years while the younger players on this team find their way. Think of it like the Ivan Provorov trade. Maybe you have to give up that 2024 first rounder still. Maybe it even costs you another draft pick or prospect. Or some of the depth pieces that you have returning to your bottom-six.

But, you’ll hold onto the future core pieces that we’ve suffered so much to see them add. Patience is the key here. This is the difference between having a team that will contend for a bubble spot for the next three or four years, versus a Cup contender in three or four years.

Next. CBJ 2017 Draft Review. dark