The Columbus Blue Jackets are masters of chaos
Even if it does not make sense.
The NHL offseason has not even officially started yet and there is already one team that has me asking “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”
As always, it is the Columbus Blue Jackets.
If there has been one constant for the Blue Jackets under the watch of general manager Jarmo Kekalainen it has been unpredictability and desperate swings at relevance.
It rarely works as planned.
On one hand, I love the fact he is not afraid to be bold and goes for the blockbuster move. In a league where everybody seem afraid of doing anything out of the ordinary it is a breath of fresh air to see. The league would be more exciting if more teams embraced that mindset.
Just a quick refresher of Kekalainen’s boldness and unpredictability:
At the 2019 trade deadline his two best players — Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky — were set to become unrestricted free agents, he knew he had little to no chance of re-signing him, and even though his team was outside of the playoff picture he elected to hold on to them for a playoff run. Not only did he hold on to them, he was the most aggressive buyer at the trade deadline and traded multiple picks and prospects for even more rentals in Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel. That was enough to get Columbus in the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference and lead them to a stunning four-game sweep over a record-setting Tampa Bay Lightning team for their first ever playoff series win. So there was SOME payoff for it. The cost also did not turn out to be that damaging to the long-term outlook of the team because they were able to recoup a lot of those picks over the next couple of years.
Early in the 2020-21 season, with Pierre-Luc Dubois desperate to get out of Columbus, he dealt him to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic in one of the bigger blockbuster trades in recent memory (even if the players involved mostly forced it). It has been a mixed bag for both teams in the years since, but Dubois is looking to push his way out of Winnipeg as well.
Last offseason Columbus came out of nowhere to land Johnny Gaudreau, the top free agent on the market, on a seven-year contract. That move was on nobody’s radar going into the offseason. It was accompanied by an absurd long-term contract for veteran defenseman Erik Gudbranson that forced the team to give away Oliver Bjorkstrand to make enough room under the salary cap.
In the early stages of this offseason the Blue Jackets have already made two massive moves and are rumored for a third blockbuster. When it comes to the latter move, all signs point to them naming Mike Babcock as their next head coach. As for the former, they have traded multiple draft picks — including a first-round pick — for defensemen Ivan Provorov and Damon Severson, signing the latter to an eight-year, $50 million contract.
There is a lot to unwrap here and leads to the question of how much better all of this makes the Blue Jackets. And whether or not any of it makes sense.
I am not sure it does.
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