What do the Blue Jackets do at the trade deadline?
Whoever the Blue Jackets trade, at least they’ll be going out with a bang.
Not because they’re winning or exciting; because of the cannon. Nothing else in Columbus is super fun right now.
The Blue Jackets lost twice to the Red Wings this weekend, and while that doesn’t sound the alarms like losing to Ottawa has up north, it’s probably the closest equivalent.
Going into two games with Detroit, any team would try to use that opportunity to make up ground, but the Jackets lost them both and got no points out of them, losing two opportunities to gain in the standings.
From here the Jackets have Lightning four times and Panthers twice in the next six contests. That’s not a great way to make up lost points.
This leaves Columbus without any clear direction with the upcoming trade deadline. They enter Monday just two points back of suddenly-hot Nashville for a playoff spot, and they have as many games as the Predators and Blackhawks, whom are tied with them. Dallas is three points back, but has three games in hand.
Before the Red Wings fiasco, Columbus had actually clawed back into playoff contention with two nice wins over the Hurricanes, but the reality is they lost 13 of their last 18 games, too.
Just four teams have a worse goals margin than Columbus’ -26, and they are Detroit, Ottawa, Buffalo and Anaheim, so that’s not exactly a great indicator of a turnaround. Only four teams have given up more than their 117 goals allowed too, in Ottawa, Buffalo, Anaheim and Vancouver.
At some point Columbus is going to have to commit to where they want to go from here. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen has a history of going for it, but the Jackets could find themselves way behind after these games with the Florida teams if they’re not careful.
When they shipped Pierre-Luc Dubois to Winnipeg for Patrik Laine that felt like a step towards some direction, but Laine scored just a single tally from Feb. 25 – March 25. His defense has also been, to put it lightly, subpar.
If they do try to sell, David Savard has been on the rumor mill. The defenseman isn’t having his best year, so the Jackets would be selling low. He’s still just 30 years old, a pending unrestricted free agent, and a right-handed shot. There’s bound to be a team in need.
“That’s just part of the business side of it,” said Savard told reporters last week. “I don’t worry too much about it. I’m here to play hockey and win a Stanley Cup. That’s the only thing I’m trying to do is help the team win games, get in the playoffs and go for a run.”
If they were to move him, it’s huge hole on defense just from lack of depth, and would be a clear indicator the Blue Jackets are indeed not going for it. Michael Del Zotto could also be on the block, but his play has dropped off since a strong start.
“We haven’t had any conversations regarding the trade deadline and where we are as a team,” head coach John Tortorella told reporters last week, before the Detroit losses. “We still have a number of games to be played here. I think conversations will happen.”
All a long way of saying, who knows. It doesn’t feel like the Jackets have a dramatic late-season run in them when a lot of those games are against good Lightning and Panthers teams, the Predators coming out of nowhere to contend, a hot Hurricanes squad and a Dallas team that’s defense and goaltending has quietly given them room to storm back with games in hand.
These are the Blue Jackets though and everything is always weird, so maybe a few more cannon blasts -- the good kind for goals, not Hunger Games-esque goodbyes at the trade deadline -- are on the horizon.
Probably not, though.