While time remains on their side, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen is still trying to find a trade to bolster the Jackets’ defense for a playoff push.
Dropping their first seven games of this season led a coaching change for the Columbus Blue Jackets, replacing Todd Richards with John Tortorella. In their 11 games under Tortorella, the Jackets have a 6-5-0 record entering their Nov. 17 game against the St. Louis Blues.
Unfortunately, they’re mired at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division with a lot of ground to gain if they hope to reach a playoff berth. While time remains on their side, GM Jarmo Kekalainen is still trying to find a trade to bolster the Jackets’ defense.
The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline reports Kekalainen’s been shopping around without success for nearly a month, including during the recent NHL GMs meeting. Michael Russo of StarTribune.com claims Kekalainen is shopping wingers Cam Atkinson and Kerby Rychel while trying to land a blueliner.
Atkinson, 26, sits sixth among Jackets scorers with 10 points in 17 games. However, his $3.5-million annual cap hit through 2017-18 is difficult to move this early in the season, especially with a high number of teams carrying limited cap room. Rychel, 21, is on an affordable entry-level contract, but he’s done little to boost his trade value in the two games he’s played this season.
Several teams are shopping defensemen, and it’s thought Kekalainen wants a blueliner who can make an immediate positive impact. What’s available, however, won’t fit his needs.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are believed to be shopping Matt Carle, but he’s been a healthy scratch through several games and carries a annual cap hit of $5.5 million. Philadelphia Flyers rearguard Luke Schenn ($3.6 million) is a UFA next summer, but there’s reportedly no interest in his services.
Trevor Daley of the Chicago Blackhawks and Carl Gunnarsson of the St. Louis Blues could be on the trade block. Neither, however, seems likely to significantly bolster the Blues Jackets struggling defense.
Le Journal de Montreal’s Pierre Durocher wonders if little-used Canadiens defenseman Jarred Tinordi has a future in Montreal. During the summer, there was some talk linking Rychel to the Habs. However, Tinordi has yet to fully establish himself as a reliable NHL D-man.
It’ll take more than Atkinson and/or Rychel to land a high-quality blueliner. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports several teams are calling Kekalainen to inquire about center Ryan Johansen. Dreger doubts Johansen’s available. If we take the Jackets GM at his word that he won’t make a reckless deal just for the sake of making a trade, he won’t move his franchise player.
Speaking of Dreger, he claims teams are periodically checking in with the Boston Bruins regarding goaltender Malcolm Subban. He noted starter Tuukka Rask is under a long-term contract plus the Bruins added Zane McIntyre, who’s splitting the goalie duties with Subban on their AHL farm team in Providence.
Despite Subban’s slow start to this season, he still holds sufficient promise to entice teams seeking goalie depth. Dreger feels a rebuilding team like the Arizona Coyotes or Toronto Maple Leafs could be interested in Subban.
During the Bruins’ struggles in early October, Subban was raised as a possible trade chip to boost their defense. Despite dropping four of their last six entering their Nov. 17 tilt against the San Jose Sharks, the Bruins remain in playoff contention. The sense of urgency to acquire defensive help has waned.
Dreger notes goaltending depth is a luxury for Bruins management, so there’s no rush for them to move one now. Still, if a significant roster need arises later in the season, Subban’s name could resurface.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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