I'm not surprised to see the Jackets at the forefront of trade rumors as the deadline approaches. Clearly, things aren't working in Columbus, with the constructed roster sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference by way of points percentage (.415).
It's been said that the team is listening to offers on nearly every player on the roster. Which is usually the case when a team is built to compete for a playoff spot, and they fall well short of doing so. Last night on TSN's Insider Trading panel, however, was the first time I've heard specific names come up. In this case, Darren Dreger mentions Ivan Provorov and Patrik Laine.
It's hard to call either of these names surprising. Both guys are paid and utilitzed in prime roles here, and it's obvious that neither situation is really working out.
Trading Provorov is probably the easier move for the club to make - even though they're still short on quality defensemen. There is less commitment here, and dealing him could take down a few dominoes for this club as they look to add another year to their rebuild.
First, a Provorov trade would help free up the log jam of players on defense for this team. Even though he plays on the left side (which is thinner depth-wise), trading him would allow the team to bring top prospect David Jiricek back up. Or even, add sparkplug Nick Blankenburg back to the roster. In a season of evaluation, it's important to let these guys play so you can evaluate them.
Second, and more importantly: they could recoup the assets they shouldn't have given up for Provorov in the first place. We talked just the other day about how the team should not have acquired him in the first place. It just hasn't been a good fit. If they can get back one of those picks (a first or second rounder), we can somewhat write this mistake off.
His contract makes him relatively easy to deal away, as well. He's signed through next year at a cap hit of $4.725M AAV - which in itself is not a bad amount for a legitimate second pairing defenseman. The Jackets could also retain up to 50% of that hit, which might drive the trade value up.
Even with his defensive shortcomings, I can imagine a few teams lining up to inquire about Provorov. His offensive production is really good, and any team looking for a secondary option to quarterback their power-play, should be interested. If someone offers Jarmo Kekalainen a first round pick, he should absolutely jump. If he can drive the price any higher, great. Take the deal and run.
A Patrik Laine trade could be more complicated, however. We'll talk about the Finnish sniper on the next page.