Could we be on the precipice of this season’s first major trade?
Per the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, rumblings suggest that trade talks have “intensified” between the Blue Jackets and Predators.
While the particulars haven’t been revealed, it’s not surprising these two teams are linked. Columbus has something Nashville needs — a talented, big-bodied, top-flight center in Ryan Johansen (who was welcomed to the trade rumor mill back in November) — while Nashville has something Columbus needs:
A whole bunch of them, too.
But let’s begin with Johansen.
His tumultuous campaign in Columbus has been well documented, from John Tortorella saying he was out of shape to his highly-publicized healthy scratch in mid-December.
It was the latest in what’s been a steadily contentious relationship between the Jackets and camp Johansen. From his healthy scratch at the AHL level back in 2013, to last year’s ugly contract situation, there have been plenty of tough times in his five years with CBJ.
As for the Nashville side of things…
The Preds are about as well-positioned to move a d-man as any team in the league. Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm comprise arguably the NHL’s best defense, and the organization still has prospects like Jack Dougherty and Jonathan-Ismael Diaby in the pipeline.
Columbus’ blueline woes are obvious, and there’s no denying adding one of Nashville’s guys would be a major boon.
Back in November, Brough asked Preds GM David Poile if he’d be willing to move a d-man to acquire some help up front, especially at center, where Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher are the club’s two top options.
Poile initially offered the stock reply — “we are very happy with our defense corps,” he explained — before acknowledging he would consider such a move.
“You’re always trying to improve your team. That’s what a manager’s job is,” said Poile.
So, will Poile and Kekalainen pull the trigger on a big move?
Do remember that both have a flair for the dramatic. Poile’s been a major mover at past trade deadlines, and Kekalainen pulled one of this offseason’s biggest blockbusters by getting Brandon Saad out of Chicago.