Three Defensemen the Columbus Blue Jackets Could Look to Trade Before the Deadline

The Jackets have a log jam on the blue line. With several players who don't fit into the long-term plans, they should look to clear that log jam up before the March 8th trading deadline.
Seattle Kraken v Columbus Blue Jackets
Seattle Kraken v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages
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Speaking of the log jam on the blue line, we cannot have trade discussions without bringing up the most obvious "addition by subtraction" candidate on the team: defenseman Andrew Peeke.

Peeke has managed to get into just 16 games this season, acting as the team's healthy scratch almost every night. He has 6 assists on the year, which is fine for a guy who has never produced much.

The issue with Peeke is, he's the 5th highest paid defenseman on the roster - and if you've paid any attention to player usage this year, he's roughly 10th on the team's depth chart. That's not a good situation for player nor team.

His presence on the roster is forcing the Jackets to rotate players like Nick Blankenburg and top defense prospect David Jiricek up and down between the NHL and AHL. Both of these players already bring more to the table than Peeke, with still more upside to give.

The thing that drives me nuts is that Peeke should be exactly what this team needs: a physical, stay-at-home defender who can block shots and kill penalties. The problem with all of that is, he's a complete mess of a player. He's not strong or physical enough to match up against the other team's physical players.

On top of being physically out-matched, his foot speed isn't enough to keep up with speedy forwards. His gap control is awful, and he frequently gets pulled out of position. Often, he's caught in what I like to call "no man's land" - where he's not close enough to break up a play with his stick, but is also not far enough away to truly block a shot.

Nicholas Robertson, Andrew Peeke
Toronto Maple Leafs v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

This would all be perfectly fine if his cap hit was that of a 7th defenseman, say, below $1.25m AAV - but for reasons I'll never understand (sheer loyalty?) - he's signed for two years after this one at a $2.75m AAV. Yikes.

Even with a fairly low cap hit, he has easily one of the worst contracts in the entire NHL. Even if they can find a team that needs to add depth and has interest in him, they may have to actually give up assets to another trade partner in a double retention deal.

Peeke certainly doesn't - or, at least, shouldn't - fit into the future plans with this organization. If any offer comes along for him, they would be smart to act swiftly. Otherwise, I think he's a prime buyout candidate this summer.

Stay tuned - tomorrow we'll take a look at some of the forwards this team could be looking to deal away.