Blue Jackets Stock Roster For Playoff Push, Keep Panarin And Bobrovsky
The Columbus Blue Jackets are going all-in on their late-season NHL playoff push.
The Blue Jackets followed up last week's additions of Ottawa forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel by acquiring New York Rangers defenseman Adam McQuaid and New Jersey goalie Keith Kinkaid before Monday's NHL trade deadline.
Overall, there were 20 trades completed involving 32 players, the fewest since 30 players changed teams at the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season's deadline.
Aside from Columbus, the most notable move in the East involved the Boston Bruins. They acquired forward Marcus Johansson from New Jersey for a 2019 second-round and 2020 fourth-round pick.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was initially considered a seller leading up to the deadline. He instead continued a buying spree by shoring up Columbus' blue line and goaltending depth.
"I think Jarmo — and that's what I love about him — I think he's got some jam. He wants to win," coach John Tortorella said. "He's letting the team know, and the team has heard it loud and clear, that he's worked hard to upgrade our roster."
Just as notable, the Blue Jackets didn't trade forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, two players eligible to become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Kekalainen denied the notion the Blue Jackets were going "all-in," by noting the team has several young developing prospects in its system. And yet, the trades leave the Blue Jackets with just two selections in this year's draft.
He also struck a hard line when it came to rejecting offers for Panarin and Bobrovsky.
"We would've moved them if it would've made sense for now and into the future, and it didn't. So here they are," Kekalainen said.
The Blue Jackets have won seven of 10 and jumped into third place of the Metropolitan Division, a point ahead of Pittsburgh, which is currently ninth and out of the playoff picture.
Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan was intrigued by Kekalainen's approach.
"He got put in a difficult situation with two of his real high-end players that weren't willing to commit to re-sign," MacLellan said. "I think you've got to give him credit for going all-in on it and seeing what happens."