Last week, the Columbus Blue Jackets acquired defenseman Mikko Lethonen from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goalie Venni Vehivalinen. VV was stuck in a prospective netjame between himself, Danil Tasarov, and Matias Kivelinkins. VV now gets the change to compete and learn from the Maple Leaf veteran netminders of Andersen, Campbell, and Hutchinson.
Mikko adds to the depth the Blue Jackets defensemen between Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Vladislav Gavrikov, David Savard, Dean Kukan, Scott Harrington, Michael Del Zotto, Gabriel Carlsson, and Adam Clendenning. Itself, Jarmo Kekalainen built on of the most complete defensive units in the entire National Hockey League, and added Mikko will get him into one of the most complete defensive factions in the league, and could extend his stay in the NHL with the Torts' system.
The biggest issue that faces the CBus to push pass the Chicago Blackhawks into the postseason is the number one centre nedded to compete. After acquiring Max Domi, Mikko Koivu, and having Pierre-Luc Dubois at season's start, none worked out the way the team planned. Dubois (WPG) brought offensive weapons in Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. Mikko Koivu retired after seven games, earning a goal and a helper with Columbus. Domi, coming from Montreal with a third rounder for Josh Anderson, has been struggling to adjust to the tough Tortorella coaching system in the Buckeye state.
What is next for Columbus, and what could be done?
1. Goalie for Center. One of the biggest conversations ongoing in the rumor mill is a swap of contracts between G Elvis Merzlikins and C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers, or a package involving G Mikko Koskinen and LD Caleb Jones for Merzlikins to join brother Seth to keep him happy in Ohio.
2. Wait until next season. The free agent season has pending UFAs in Derek Stepan and David Krejci awaiting a new contract. Either that, or adjust with bottom six depth and hope the development of Alexnadre Texier and Liam Foudy leaps into top six production.
3. Push on the weak west. Thomas Hertl, Richard Rakell, RNH, and Sean Monahan could be moved at the right price, and if Columbus believes in this core, there is options in differnt ages for league competition to get,
4. Draft a center. Aatu Raty and Shane Wright and Brad Lambert are coming close to the draft, and if patience is the destiny, the right reward could fall into the laps of Columbus.
5. Work with what you got. Adjust and help the growth of Domi, Foligno, Jenner, Roslovic, or Grigorenko grow into a number one role to produce. All of them have big term professional hockey experience. Coaching and player determination can help this team go the extra mile.
What is next? More to come...