Columbus, Ohio – The Blue Jackets have had a lot of hard nights on the rink this season. Thursday’s dose was a double whammy, and the worst news came just as the Blue Jackets were heading into a warmup before a game at Nationwide Arena.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., Boston and Washington announced a trade that sent defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Garnet Hathaway to the Bruins for forwards Craig Smith and Andrei Svetlakov, along with three draft picks: a first-round pick in 2023, and a second. A round in 2025 and a third round in 2024.
Columbus’ opponent on Thursday, Wilde, stepped in as a third-party “broker” to help Boston stay under the NHL’s salary cap.
The news landed like a gut punch for Columbus before the puck fell against Minnesota, specifically that the Bruins had acquired Orloff, a veteran two-way defenseman. The Blue Jackets thought they would be dancing partners with Boston.
Several team and league sources confirmed that the athlete That the Blue Jackets strongly felt they had a deal in place with Boston for more than a week that would send defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov to the Bruins for multiple picks and/or players.
Sources said the Blue Jackets thought the deal was done, but Boston has repeatedly asked for more time. The deal is not official until it is submitted to the NHL for approval.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment Thursday, but that puts him back at square one with his biggest trading chip just a week before the NHL’s March 3 trade deadline.
That puts the jackets in a potentially awkward spot with Gavrikov, who has been a healthy scratcher for over a week. Thursday’s game against the Wild was the fifth consecutive game Gavrikov missed to avoid injury before the deadline.
It’s not clear if Gavrikov will return to the lineup on Saturday when the Blue Jackets host the Edmonton Oilers. Thursday’s news arrived too late for Columbus to prompt him to join the lineup against the Wild, though it’s unclear if the Jackets would choose to play him again.
When asked if there was any scenario in which Gavrikov could return to the lineup before March 3, Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said, “I’m not on that wave right now. I’m just worried about tonight’s game.”
This didn’t go well either.
The Wild scored two goals in the first 8:48 of the game and rode those goals to a 2-0 win before 17,997 at Nationwide Arena. Minnesota goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 73rd career shutout, his first in 24 games, against Columbus.
But the Bruins-Capitals trade threw a “Now what?” Vibe on actions.
What are the options for Kekkalainen? Edmonton, Los Angeles and Toronto are all said to be asking for help on defense, but Gavrikov’s return will likely be reduced now that there are fewer teams bidding.
Two sources said the Blue Jackets wanted to execute the Jafrikov deal well before the trade deadline the athleteso they could overturn a first-round pick from Boston on a trade to Arizona for defenseman Jacob Cicciron.
Chychrun has been on the market for over a year now, and is considered a possible candidate to go before March 3rd. The Coyotes’ asking price reportedly includes a first-round draft pick, so the Blue Jackets need to add to that if they’re entering the running back.
There is no way they traded their first round draft pick this year, who could be No. 1 overall. Thursday’s loss, along with Anaheim’s win over the Capitals, sent the team back to last place in the league.
The Blue Jackets have had an on-again, off-again flirtation with the Wolves involving Chychrun, starting with last summer’s draft in Montreal.
It was reported then that Arizona general manager Bill Armstrong and Kikalainen had a deal in place with Chychrun, but Chychrun wanted to be traded to a playoff contender, not a club retooling with young players. The deal was eventually cancelled.
When the Blue Jackets signed free agent forward Johnny Goudreau last summer, Chychrun gave the Coyotes the nod to resume trade talks with Columbus. But they don’t seem to be going anywhere.
The draw for Chychrun, who turns 25 next month, is clear: He’s signed through 2024-25 for $4.6 million a season, which is a reasonable amount given his offensive talent and style of play. According to CapFriendly, the 10-team limited non-trade clause in his contract will be triggered next season.
Chychrun and Gavrikov also have something in common: Both have been out of the lineup for over a week waiting for a deal, which may not happen after Thursday’s deal between the Caps and Bruins.
Gavrikov, an unrestricted free agent this summer, spoke to the media last week when he was left out of the lineup for the first time “due to trade reasons.” But he refused an interview request this week.
“I think it was very hard on him,” said Blue Jackets’ fullback Erik Goodbranson. “It’s kind of the latest to drag guys on for weeks on end. I feel what he feels. It’s a really tough situation for him. It’s a big year for him, a decade year. It must be tough. I don’t envy his position at all.”
“We’ve talked a few times. He’s still here (laughing), so we’ve talked a lot. I’ve been through what he’s been going through. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, what’s the deal with him. But hockey players want to play.”
(Photo by Vladislav Gavrikov: Gaelen Morse / USA Today)
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