Columbus Blue Jackets Off-Season: Players on the Move

In the world of the Columbus Blue Jackets, there are multiple moves being talked about for this off-season. From David Clarkson being involved with a move to Vegas to Scott Hartnell possibly being bought out or traded, there is plenty to ponder for the future. Let’s take a look at a few names that could be on the move during the Columbus Blue Jackets off-season.

Columbus Blue Jackets Off-Season: Players on the Move

David Clarkson to the Vegas Golden Knights

This seems as an odd one, seeing as Clarkson is highly unlikely to ever play in the NHL again. However, the Golden Knights seem open to taking on the entire contract if Columbus spices up the deal a bit. This would help the Golden Knights reach the cap floor in an easier fashion, and would be a saving grace for the Blue Jackets.

One of the most realistic trade options could see the Golden Knights offering their second round pick this year, 34th overall, for Clarkson, the Blue Jackets 24th overall pick, and likely a prospect to add some spice to it.

While there hasn’t been any confirmation on either end, this would be the ideal move for both organizations moving forward. This would allow the Golden Knights to have two first round picks, help them reach the cap floor easier, and would add another prospect for the future.

As for the Blue Jackets, dropping ten spots in this years draft isn’t a big deal. In the range from 24 to 34 in the draft, the prospects don’t differ greatly. And when taking into account that the Blue Jackets will be more than likely looking for a forward with their first pick, they have plenty of options during that range in the draft.

As for the added prospect that would entice Vegas to take on the Clarkson contract, there are a few options. For one, the Blue Jackets could send former first round pick Sonny Milano to Vegas. Milano has skill offensively, and he could arguably step into an NHL line-up immediately and contribute as a top nine forward for an expansion franchise.

While Milano does have a lot of promise offensively, his defensive abilities and work ethic have been question rather often. It is because of this that it is a feasible option to see the Jackets part ways with him.

As for the second option for a prospect, the Jackets could add Markus Hannikainen to sweeten the deal. Hannikainen isn’t as lethal of a goal scorer, but is a much more well-rounded forward than Milano is. He has lots of potential, and has looked solid in his few call-ups to Columbus during John Tortorella’s tenure on the bench.

To clarify, it would be either Sonny Milano or Markus Hannikainen, not both.

Scott Hartnell not asked to waive No-Movement Clause

Another name that the Blue Jackets will be looking to get off the checkbook, Scott Hartnell, was not asked to waive his NMC by the Blue Jackets. Despite the fact that Hartnell has stated he is interested in retiring in Columbus, that may not be the best course of action for Columbus at this point in time.

This means that Hartnell is still part of the protection list for the upcoming expansion draft. However, Columbus can still trade Hartnell at a later date if he agrees to waive at the point of the deal. What this says is that either William Karlsson or Josh Anderson will likely be left exposed during the upcoming expansion draft.

Despite the fact that Hartnell was not asked to waive his NMC, he could still be traded at a later date. If the Vegas Golden Knights don’t move forward with the possible deal for Clarkson, this could be an option to ensure they hit the cap floor. Along with hitting the cap floor, they would get a veteran forward who can still add a bit of scoring to a line-up.

Another option in the Hartnell situation would be a possible buy out of his contract. While this is a less than favorable situation, it is still a viable option to free up cap space for this off-season. The buyout would mean a cap hit of $1.5 million in 2017-18, and $3 million the following season. For a better look at what the buy out would do to the Jackets salary cap, here is a chart courtesy of CapFriendly.

Buyout Details
SEASON SALARY INITIAL CAP HIT ACTUAL COST SAVINGS BUYOUT CAP HIT
2017-18 $4,500,000 $4,750,000 $1,250,000 $3,250,000 $1,500,000
2018-19 $3,000,000 $4,750,000 $1,250,000 $1,750,000 $3,000,000
2019-20 $0 $0 $1,250,000 -$1,250,000 $1,250,000
2020-21 $0 $0 $1,250,000 -$1,250,000  

$1,250,000

 

 

This would bring the 2017-18 salary cap space for the Blue Jackets from $2 million to roughly $5.25 million this off-season. That number should be plenty enough to re-sign restricted free agent Alexander Wennberg.

Will Ryan Murray continue his Columbus career?

It is safe to say that Ryan Murray hasn’t quite lived up to the potential he had when being selected 2nd overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. It’s because of this that so many Fifth Liners are hoping for a trade involving Murray.

Despite the fan base seeming to always have something to say, Murray isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a lost cause. The defenseman is only 23-years old, and has plenty of time to turn things around. And the lack of production can be attributed to a series of unlucky injuries in his first few seasons, with Murray only playing in 82 games during the 2015-16 season.

Out of eight qualifying defenseman that played for the Blue Jackets during 2016-17, Ryan Murray had the worst Corsi-For percentage (46.25%). Along with that Murray also had the worst Corsi-Against per 60 (58.42). This could be partially attributed to the fact that he was paired with AHL caliber defensemen, as well as rookie defenseman Markus Nutivaara. Despite his defensive partners, Murray deserves his fair share of accountability for his poor season.

The Corsi-For percentage for Murray was down from his only full season in the NHL. In 2015-16 Murray had a CF% of 47.65, which isn’t too bad when taking into account how poor the Jackets were last year. As for Murray’s CA60, he had a 57.80, only a slight downgrade from this season. Murray showed he could be a top six defenseman during that season, and the Jackets should give the 23-year old another chance at proving he can make it.

Best Option of the Three

Ryan Murray should be given another chance at proving his worth next season, but if the right deal comes along the Jackets would be foolish to turn it down. Murray would be a good bit-piece in a trade to shake things up in the defensive corps. And with the likes of Gabriel Carlsson and Dean Kukan showing promise, training camp or a possible suitor could change this very quickly.

When comparing the other two possible roster moves, the one that would be the most pleasing on the surface would the David Clarkson trade. While Clarkson wouldn’t be useful on ice to Vegas, getting him off the books would be a great move for Columbus and they wouldn’t have to rely on LTIR anymore.

Trying to entice Vegas to take on the contract with a pick and a prospect is the best-case scenario. Stay tuned as the Columbus Blue Jackets department at LWOH will be analyzing more off-season options for Columbus in the coming months.

Analytics courtesy of Puckalytics.

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