CBJ- Center of Attention
With the blockbuster trade of 2016 happening in Ohio's capital, the team's future goes from finding a number one defenseman to a new number one center. With a solid three man backend in Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, and Zach Werenski, the team seems to be okay for the future. With Brandon Dubinsky being the team's number one center followed behind by young Sweedish men in Alex Wennberg and William Karlsson, what can this team do? Here are some possible solutions
With this team being a small market team, this seems to be the most likely thing to happen. They don't have much center depth, but have two young centers in the N with Wild Bill and Wennberg. In the A, they have Michael Chaput, who is at best a bottom six forward.
They could also develop wingers into centers. They have wingers like Boone Jenner and Nick Foligno that have played center before, and as recent as this season. Other guys that may work for them include Sonny Milano, TJ Tynan, and Alex Broadhurst.
This draft is a good draft to acquire centers. As have the past couple. With the likes of Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Leon Drasatil, Alex Barkov, Nate MacKinnon, and Jonathan Drouin being just several examples. This year, the number one prospect in the rankings is Auston Matthews, a generational talent from Arizona, that is tearing it up in the Swiss League under former NHL coach Marc Crawford. In TSN's International Skating Rankings, where the top thee prospects could be coming from for this year's draft, there are four centers in the top 10- Matthews, Rasmus Asplund, German Rubtsov, and Linus Lindstrom. In the North American rankings, the only two centers in the top ten are Michael McLeod and Clayton Keller.
Lots of teams have good centers out there and some could be on the trade block. Some big names that have been out there include Matt Duchene, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Steven Stamkos, Nazem Kardi, and Jonathan Drouin. The price tags on all of them are very high.
For Duchene, it is a young forward, young defenseman, and a high draft choice.
For Nuge, a top young defenseman. There was discussion of Nuge for Jones (when in Nashville).
For Stamkos, it is probably the usual deadline price, and since he is a pure sniper, it may be higher. It could be a first round pick, and maybe two or three top prospects, and maybe another first rounder.
For Kadri, a first may do it, but also a second and a couple other pieces may do it too.
For Drouin, the asking price went from a top player on an active roster to a top prospect.
4. Free Agency
As of right now, there are plenty of options to add to the center depth via free agency. Some options include Stamkos, Eric Staal, David Backes, and Frans Nielsen. Backes is probably the most intriguing for Columbus as general manager Jarmo Kekalainen recruited him into St. Louis.
Plus, with the money of Borque coming off the books and other big salaries guys rumored to be moved, the Jackets may have the room to sign him to big money. Also, with what the Blackhawks did this summer with adding Artem Pinarin, more teams are trying to find gems in Europe. And, there are still big college UFAs still out there, including Jimmy Vessey (NSH) and Mark Jankowski (CGY).
What are your thoughts? What can this team do? Comment below. More to come…