Over-Thought: Jackets Backed into a Corner with Bob and Bread

I’m a few days late with the OT this week but better late than never. This week’s edition is technically last week’s, with thoughts coming from Elliotte Friedman’s column breaking down the Auston Matthews extension. If you haven’t already, you can read the entire column here.

  1. Over the weekend, the feeling was Florida would not make trades for Panarin or Sergei Bobrovsky — feeling there was no need to spend assets when the Panthers liked their chances in free agency. Monday, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reported the Panthers are thinking about trading for Bobrovsky, so as to give him eight years. We will see where this goes, but don’t be surprised to see Florida continue to try to clear room. Mike Hoffman, now in his fifth-straight 20-goal season, could be another to go. Teams are always looking for scorers.

This rumor keeps gaining steam and it’s an extremely unenviable position for the Blue Jackets to be in. As a member of Team Chaos, I’m all for seeing this deal go down. At the deadline. There’s an added bonus of a division rival potentially carrying $14m-plus in goaltender contracts, so I’d be happy to see the Panthers get aggressive for the pair of pending UFAs.

Today’s report that Jonathan Huberdeau could be a potential casualty for the Panthers to clear the space for the pair added even more fuel to the fire, though Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period threw some cold water on the report. This has to be a tricky one to navigate for the Blue Jackets as they’re backed into a corner on each player and it seems apparent that they’ll each be wearing new uniforms next season. They’re a strong team that’s probably one or two pieces away from being a serious contender. They’re hardly in a position to be trading their top scorer or starting goalie. They should be adding in an attempt to get over the hump in the East. Do you keep Panarin and Bobrovsky as “rentals” for the postseason, make your run and deal with the fallout in the summer? Or do you try to double down? Ship them for assets in an attempt to flip the return into more bodies prior to the deadline? If Huberdeau was truly on the block, I’d be taking a long look at pulling the trigger on the deal if I were Jarmo Kekalainen. Huberdeau isn’t Panarin but he keeps you afloat offensively. Add in whatever else the Panthers will be offering (Brassard, picks, prospects) and the opportunity to leverage those assets prior to February 25. That would require a lot of moving parts but it offers the Jackets more stability for this season without the threat of the bottom falling out immediately after.

I still think this plays out in the summer. Are the Panthers confident enough that an eighth year is enticing enough to swing a deadline deal? Is there enough time for the Jackets to turn the non-NHL bodies they’d receive into more help for a playoff push? If I’m Florida I’d be working to maximize the return I can get at the draft in order to shed salary with plans on putting together two big offers on July 1.

  1. Montreal GM Marc Bergevin watched Anaheim in Winnipeg and Toronto. He doesn’t tip his hand, but I think he’s looking at forward depth. Bergevin has said he won’t give up futures, which takes him away from the Ducks’ prime assets. The Canadiens may also have checked out Dallas’s Brett Ritchie.
  1. Buffalo is like Montreal. The Sabres do not want to use their best assets on rentals. I could see them looking at someone like Carl Hagelin. He’d be a good fit.

I’m linking these two notes because as desperate as so many fans are to see a move I can’t help but wonder how disappointed the collective fan base will be if Jason Botterill just moves for “some guys”.

Hagelin is a player I felt the Sabres may target in the summer as the Pens looked to shed salary as he would’ve added some much needed speed and skill to their bottom six. Most of that still holds true at this point. I think it’s pretty clear that Vladimir Sobotka isn’t coming out of the lineup any time soon, so I’m not sure Hagelin would push the fanbase’s whipping point to the press box. Maybe it would allow them to put Zemgus Girgensons into a different trade but I don’t know exactly how the rest of the depth chart would play out. Either way it isn’t the earth shattering trade most fans are angling for.

  1. Anaheim’s got a few players that would be coveted by both contenders and clubs thinking long-term. GM Bob Murray is not on this trip. He’s patient. But word is he is considering major surgery. Question is if he does it now or later.

For those who follow me on Twitter, I’m really hung up on taking advantage of the Ducks potential roster reshaping. They have a host of players who would look great in Buffalo and who have affordable term left on their deals. If there’s a candidate to offer up a first round pick (or two) to, the Ducks may be the prime candidate.

  1. Besides Hall, New Jersey’s got a few interesting pieces. Brian Boyle stands out, with the Athletic’s Arthur Staple indicating the Islanders have interest. (Of course, now that this is out there, Lou Lamoriello will refuse to do it. True story: When the Cory Schneider–Bo Horvat trade went down, he told Vancouver that if he heard someone break it in the seconds before Commissioner Gary Bettman announced it at the draft podium, he’d cancel the deal.) You can see Marcus Johansson and Ben Lovejoy — both unrestricted — having an appeal. There’s a decision to be made on Keith Kinkaid, too.

The benefit of hindsight gives this more credence as Boyle was shipped to Nashville but at the time I read this my first thought was how it so perfectly encapsulates so many of the preconceived notions I have about Lucky Lou. Between no facial hair and only allowing low numbers, it really lines up. Refusing to do a deal because it was leaked or rumored, that is. As I remarked on Twitter, it’s a little too silly. If you’re going to make a deal that you think improves your team, are you really going to back out because someone Tweeted it out?

  1. One of the fourth-round picks that Florida acquired from Pittsburgh in the Bjugstad/McCann/Brassard trade is the Mike Sillinger of draft selections. Originally, it was Minnesota’s, traded to Arizona in February 2017 for Martin Hanzal. Ten months later, it was Pittsburgh’s, as Michael Leighton was sent to the Penguins, with Josh Archibald headed west. Now it belongs the Panthers — the fourth team to own it.

This note reminded me of the circuitous path that a few of the third round picks the Sabres held in 2016. Particularly the pick that wound up being surrendered as compensation for hiring Dan Bylsma. A pick that was originally held by Vancouver, traded away in 2014 before ultimately coming back to the Canucks at the 2016 draft.

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