Just 37 more gamedays now, right? For the Columbus Blue Jackets, that’s a lot of games to play out the string. But when you sit 25 points out of a playoff spot, it means they’re playing out the string.
While the Blue Jackets play the string out on the ice, the front office is going to get busy preparing for the trade deadline and beyond. They have a lot on their plate including deciding on the futures of Vladislav Gavrikov and Gus Nyquist. As of this writing, both are expected now to be traded by the Mar 3 deadline.
But what is the latest around these two players? Which teams could express an interest in their services? That’s where we begin this week.
The Latest on Gavrikov & Nyquist
As expected, many teams are believed to be interested in Gavrikov. He’s considered a solid second-pairing defenseman who plays the kind of game contenders love.
According to TSN Insider Trading, it is believed as many as 10 teams have contacted the Blue Jackets about Gavrikov. If you are the Blue Jackets, you have to like this given that there is a clear interest in the player. With a robust market, they should be able to find a suitable return.
According to Pierre Lebrun, “It’s going to be a first+ if you want to have him on your team for the rest of the year.” Lebrun also added that Gavrikov is playing at a higher level than David Savard was at the time. Savard returned both a first and third rounder. In a loaded top-end of the 2023 NHL Draft, having more shots is never a bad thing.
The Blue Jackets own six picks in the first four rounds of the 2023 Draft, including an extra third rounder and extra fourth rounder thanks to the Oliver Bjorkstrand to Seattle deal. It’s very possible the Blue Jackets could enter the draft with as many as eight picks in the first four rounds if they get the right return for Gavrikov.
As for the most common teams linked to Gavrikov, the Oilers, Kings and Maple Leafs have been mentioned the most. The Oilers have been seen following the Blue Jackets of late with scouts going to consecutive games getting a closer look.
As for Nyquist, Hockey Night in Canada last Saturday mentioned that the Blue Jackets have started talking to teams about a potential deal. He can fit on any contender’s middle six while adding value on special teams while bringing a veteran leader into the locker room.
Nyquist’s cap hit of $5.5 million could make things a little tricky. Perhaps the Blue Jackets have to consider retaining part of that hit in order to make a trade happen.
As for which teams could be a fit, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli suggests the Jets, Stars, Penguins, Devils and Rangers as possibilities. Each team would like the potential price of boosting their middle six.
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As for a return, don’t expect a first-round pick to be a possibility. However multiple picks and/or players could be involved. When Nyquist went to San Jose at the 2019 trade deadline, the Red Wings got a second rounder, a third rounder and had to retain 30% of the salary. While that was four years ago, it gives you an idea of the framework that could be involved.
With six weeks until the trade deadline, you can expect the noise to pick up around Gavrikov and Nyquist. Each will help a contender in different ways.
Connor Bedard Watch
If you want to know what several Blue Jackets’ fans are doing, they’re watching the standings daily. As we enter Saturday’s games, the Blue Jackets occupy the basement of the standings by themselves.
The Blue Jackets do have competition though. Three teams, the Blackhawks, the Ducks and the Coyotes are all within five points of the basement. While finishing in last does not guarantee winning the right to draft Connor Bedard, it does guarantee certain things.
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First, finishing in last will guarantee that team a top-three pick. They would also have the highest odds of winning the draft lottery. Last place is a 25.5% chance to win while second-to-last gets a 13.5% chance to win. In terms of the chances of finishing first or second, the last place team has a 44.3% chance of that and 55.7% of dropping to third.
It’s well known the Blue Jackets need a top center in their organization. This might be their best chance ever to fill that need. Even if they don’t land Bedard, they can still get a top center.
We will continue to watch the standings as the season goes on. Someone’s franchise is set to change forever come June.
- The Blue Jackets could very well finish in last. Have you seen their schedule in March with all the road games? They have just three home games in March, which happens to be as many home games as they have road wins this season. Just three wins. Yikes.
- That’s not the only thing the Blue Jackets are at the bottom of. Their power play has been awful. Need proof? They’re last in goals, just 17 in 45 games. They’re last in power-play chances with 119. Their 14.3% conversion is last. With Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine on that unit, that’s not good. They’ve also allowed five shorthanded goals this season.
- Daniil Tarasov was sent back to AHL Cleveland, meaning that Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins are healthy.
- We’ll end on a positive note. The new fan zone at Nationwide Arena looks amazing. The overall experience appears to be the first of its kind in an NHL arena. Just wait until the team on the ice catches up to the team off it.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager. Please take note of the updated Twitter handle: @mark_scheig.