Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen met with the media today to discuss the big Ryan Johansen-for-Seth Jones trade but, in doing so, had to answer questions about another potential trade — one for prospect Kerby Rychel.
Rychel, per a Dispatch report from earlier this week, had requested a trade out of Columbus prior to the start of this season.
So on Thursday, Kekalainen was asked about it.
You can watch the video above (around the -31:00 mark), but here’s the back-and-forth:
Q: Kerby Rychel requested a trade over the summer. I think he still desires one. How do you handle that? Is he officially on the trade market, or do you just soldier on and do what’s best for the Blue Jackets?
Kekalainen: Kerby Rychel requested a trade per whom?
Q: Per Kerby Rychel’s agent… per Kerby Rychel, period. Did he not request a trade?
Kekalainen: I’m just wondering where that’s coming from, that all. I’ll have the same answer as the Tampa Bay Lightning had [with Jonathan Drouin] — we will operate with the best interests of the Columbus Blue Jackets in mind, and that’s the only thing we’re worried about.
Kekalainen went on to say the club was happy with Rychel’s game — “he’s playing very well in the American League” — and said he’s told both the player and agent that Rychel will become a very good player in the NHL.
Taken 19th overall in 2013 — the same year Drouin was drafted, coincidentally enough — Rychel is still just 21 years old, and his numbers in AHL Lake Erie this year do corroborate Kekalainen’s assessment.
The former OHL Windsor standout has 20 points in 21 games with the Monsters, though just three in 11 contests this year with the Jackets.