The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a busy offseason for themselves thus far, and it is yet to be over. The surrounding teams in their division were also extremely active as well. With that out of the way, lets focus on what was done within before going externally with reviews by team and where I think they will finish. Let's start at home...
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a busy draft day with pulling the trigger on the most surprising trade of the offseason, dealing winger Josh Anderson to the Montreal Canadiens for center Max Domi and a 2020 3rd round pick (#78th overall).
Their draft was shorter than other years due to the success of the 2018-19 regular season, with the dealing of their second and third round picks at last season's deadline.
Round 1, #21 - RW Yegor Chinakov (KHL) -- the theme of surprise continues to show itself with this team by adding a goal scoring Russian winger that they had placed in their first round, while others had him in the late 5th or early 6th round.
Round 3, #78 (from Montreal) - D Samuel Knazko (Slovakia)
Round 4, #114 - C Mikael Pyyhtia (Finland)
Round 5, #145 - D Ole Bjorgvik Holm (Norway)
Round 6, #176 - D Samuel Johannesson (Sweeden)
To reflect on their original draft picks, and where they round up:
1. Columbus traded their 2020 second round pick at the 2019 trade deadline with their 2021 second round pick and winger Anthony Duclair to the Ottawa Senators for left winger Ryan Dzingel. Instead of selecting this pick at pick #52, they traded it with center Jonathan Gruden to the Pittsburgh Penguins for goalie Matt Murray. With that pick, Pittsburgh drafted Finnish goalie Joel Blomqvist, which was their first draft pick in the 2020 draft.
2. At the 2018 trade deadline, the Blue Jackets traded their 2020 third round pick with winger Nick Moutrey to the Ottawa Senators for left defenseman Ian Cole. To relieve cap issues for their rival, the Sens packaged this pick with defensemen Ben Harpur and Cody Ceci and center Aaron Luchuk to the Toronto Maple Leafs for wingers Connor Brown and Michael Carcone and defenseman Nikita Zatisev. Prior to the 2020 trade deadline, the Leafs bolstered their goaltending with dealing the Columbus third rounder with winger Trevor Moore and a conditional 2021 third round pick for goalie Jack Campbell and winger Kyle Clifford. With the 83rd overall pick, the LA Kings selected winger Alex Laferriere.
3. The Columbus Blue Jackets traded their seventh round pick on draft day of the 2020 draft to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional seventh round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. Anaheim selected center Ethan Bowen with the 207th overall pick.
After the draft, Columbus looked to prevent any sort of potential of an offer sheet to the yet unsigned center Pierre-Luc Dubois, and traded two defensemen and bought out a former first round pick to clear cap. Additionally, they announced players were not going to be qualified to previous salaries in their restricted rights, to become unrestricted free agents.
The Columbus Blue Jackets dealt defenseman Ryan Murray to the New Jersey Devils for their 2021 5th round draft pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Murray was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft, and proved to be a very serviceable defenseman in his eight years with his organization. Murray had 110 career points in 347 career games with Columbus (15 goals, 95 assists). In 20 career playoff games, Murray had one goal and two assists. Murray has a list of injury history, only playing one full season in his career. The fifth rounder makes up for the 5th they dealt in 2022 for G Keith Kinkaid.
Columbus also shipped defenseman Markus Nutivarra to the Florida Panthers for winger Cliff Pu. Nutivarra was a seventh round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry draft, and was becoming a spare part in the backlog jam of the Columbus defensive crop. In 244 NHL games, Nuti had 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists), and a goal and a helper in 12 career playoff games. Pu was a third round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft with the Buffalo Sabres, and is now a part of his fourth organization in four years. In London of the OHL, he had a career high 86 points in 63 games. In the minors, he has jumped from Charlotte to Springfield to the coast.
To finish out their fears, they bought out center Alex Wennberg. Wennberg had three years remaining on his six year deal, shedding $4.9 million per season for the next three years off their books. Because of the CBA and Wenny's age, Wennberg will be getting paid less than $900K over the next six seasons to not play in Columbus. With this termination of contract, all three of Columbus' first round picks in the 2013 draft are no longer a part of the organization. Like Murray, Wennberg does also have an injury playing, and not playing a single full 82 game regular season in his career. In 415 NHL games, the Swedish center has 201 points (40 goals, 161 assists); and 8 points in 22 playoff games (4 goals, 4 assists).
Columbus also let RFAs including center Devin Shore and winger Justin Scott walk to unrestricted free agency.
In free agency, thus far, the Blue Jackets added a veteran blue liner and center to their squad. On defense, they added defenseman Gavin Bayreuther to a one year, two-way deal. Bayreuther had 5 points in 19 games played with the Dallas Stars (2 goals, 3 assists). They also added center Mikko Koivu to a one-year, $1.5M dollar contract. Koivu was the 6th overall pick in 2001 and captain of the Minnesota Wild for most of his NHL tenure. In his 1028 games in Minnesota, he had 709 career points (205 goals, 504 assists); and 28 points in 59 games played (11 goals, 17 assists). They also added center/winger Mikhail Grigorenko to a one year, $1.2M dollar contract. Grigorenko was the 12th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The Russian forward played the last three years in the KHL, being a near point per game player. In 217 NHL games between the Buffalo Sabres and Colorado Avalanche, Grigorenko has accumulated 64 points (22 goals, 42 assists) in 217 games played.
Looking at their full completion of adding depth, they also extended center Max Domi to a two year contract, worth $5.3M a season for this and next season. Domi was the 12th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. In 375 career games between the Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens, Domi has produced 251 points (81 goals, 170 assists), and three assists in 10 games in the 2020 playoffs.
With the center depth fixed, and the defense clarified, here is what I project the lineup to be to start the next season, whenever it starts.
Additionally, here is their current 2021 Draft outlook (as of 11/3/2020)
Round 5 (from New Jersey)
Columbus also has a depth of prospects that have played and are playing in junior or being loaned due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
- C Liam Foudy -> London
- LW Alex Texier -> LIGA
- C Emil Bemstrom -> SHL
- LD Jacob Christiansen -> WHL
- G Daniil Tarasov -> KHL
- G Veini Vehvilainen -> Fin
They do have some tempting prospects that could be in their system soon, with
- C Tyler Angle
- C Calvin Thurkauf
- RW Trey Fix-Wolansky
- RD Andrew Peeke
- G Matiss Kivlenieks
The Columbus Blue Jackets know how to scout, and their talent will be their future. Based off where they are headed, I feel the Jackets will finish fourth in the Metro division and hold a wild card spot in the 2021 postseason.
What are your thoughts? More to come...