Deadline moves fuel summer speculation
It was a remarkable contrast from one year ago. Instead of trying to trade one potential 40-goal scorer like they were with Rick Nash at last season's trade deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets had just picked one up in Marian Gaborik.
And this felt much, much better for Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards.
"We're really excited. Having gone through what we did last year, at the trade deadline, unloading everybody -- that's not a real fun position to be in," he said when we chatted on Wednesday night, hours after the Blue Jackets acquired Gaborik from the New York Rangers in exchange for right winger Derek Dorsett, center Derick Brassard, defenseman John Moore and a 2014 sixth-round draft pick.
The plan last night was for Gaborik to arrive at the team hotel in Nashville, Tenn., and Richards was going to meet him down in the lobby for introductions. He still hadn't spoken with him, but both have Minnesota roots -- Gaborik from his time with the Wild and Richards as a native and former Wild coach.
He's hoping the return to a midwestern locale can help Gaborik find his comfort zone once again and return to the scoring pace that placed him third in the league last season with 41 goals.
Richards sees a lot of similarities between Columbus and Minneapolis and is optimistic Gaborik will have no problems settling in.
"I hope and think that this is an opportunity and destination he's going to look forward to playing in," Richards said. "And right now, I'm going to try and find him two complementary players who can find him."
The plan is to start him with Artem Anisimov, someone he's familiar with from their time together in New York, and go from there.
The Gaborik addition provides a serious boost for a team that currently sits just two points outside a playoff spot in the West, despite the fact that nobody has scored fewer goals in the conference than the Blue Jackets' 87. But it's not a move that deviates from first-year GM Jarmo Kekalainen's long-term plan. He didn't surrender any of the three first-round picks the Blue Jackets have collected in the upcoming draft. And of the three players sent to New York, only the smooth-skating Moore is likely to cause any seller's remorse in a couple of years.
If the fit in Columbus isn't a good one, Kekalainen has acquired a star in Gaborik who can be spun for future assets when his contract is closer to expiring. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves here, but if Columbus isn't on the path to contention next trade deadline, Gaborik could be dealt into a return of prospects and draft picks much bigger than Kekalainen surrendered on Wednesday at next year's deadline because he'll be a traditional rental, which contending teams prefer during midseason trades.
And it works long-term for the Rangers, too, as ESPN New York's Katie Strang pointed out on Wednesday. It gives New York the cap flexibility to sign Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin, the Rangers' trio of talented restricted free agents. And now, Ryane Clowe can be a part of the long-term plan in New York as well, with cap space to sign him to a contract extension before he hits free agency in July.
This wasn't the only move made with summer ramifications. Here's a look ahead at how some of the fallout from the trade deadline impacts the summer market:
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