Last month, we wrote about how Columbus’ expansion draft plan hinged largely on one player — Scott Hartnell.
Now, it looks like the Jackets might’ve finagled their way around it.
Speculation is that the Blue Jackets already have a deal in place with Vegas, that the sides have agreed to some form of mutual back-scratching that will steer the Golden Knights toward taking a player on their roster who will cause only a minor wince.
The Jackets will send Vegas a prospect and/or a draft pick to take player “A” instead of player “B,” and Vegas will agree to future considerations to make the deal conform to NHL guidelines.
Such a move would prevent Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen from having a potentially awkward conversation with Hartnell.
The veteran forward, who was made a healthy scratch in the playoffs, just wrapped the fourth of a six-year, $28.5 million deal. That contract carries a $4.75M cap hit and, more importantly, a no-movement clause.
That NMC means Columbus is required to protect Hartnell for expansion purposes.
If Hartnell is protected, the club risks losing one of Josh Anderson, Matt Calvert or William Karlsson. Of the three, Anderson would appear the most likely to be Vegas-bound — the 23-year-old is coming off a breakout campaign, in which he scored 17 goals and emerged as a big, fast and physically imposing power forward.
Unless, of course, Columbus has a deal in which Vegas wouldn’t take Anderson. The club would then avoid the risk of causing friction with Hartnell, and still retain a good young asset.
Columbus has until Monday to ask Hartnell to waive his NMC.