The Columbus Blue Jackets are currently winning the 2021 NHL offseason.
In a tough Metropolitan Division, the Blue Jackets are among the bottom tier. They are a borderline rebuilding team who recently experienced their first taste of success with a sweep over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2019 NHL playoffs.
However, their rebuilding phase is being sped up after the first few weeks of the offseason. General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen has made multiple moves that have been, in my opinion, extremely beneficial to the team’s future.
The first move Kekalainen made was trading defenseman Seth Jones to the Chicago Blackhawks. Jones made it clear to the Blue Jackets that he will be testing free agency next offseason when his contract is up. When the Blackhawks acquired him, they immediately signed him to an 8-year extension, with an annual value of $9.5 million.
Jones is a very good hockey player, however, he is not worth $9.5 million. To compare, Cale Makar signed a 6-year extension with the Colorado Avalanche costing $9 million a year. Makar is much better than Jones, so the Jackets made the right choice by shipping him out.
The return they got for Jones was even better. The Jackets received the 11th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, a 2022 1st rounder, and a 2021 second-rounder. They also received promising young defenseman Adam Boqvist, who was the 8th overall selection in the 2018 NHL Draft. The Blue Jackets absolutely fleeced the Blackhawks in the trade which will severely benefit them in the future.
A few hours after the Jackets traded Jones, they acquired defenseman Jake Bean from the Carolina Hurricanes. They flipped the 2nd rounder they received from the Blackhawks to the Hurricanes in exchange for Bean. Bean has shown promise as a solid defenseman and was a previous first-rounder. He was the 6th defenseman on the Hurricanes, so he will have a bigger role on the Jackets in the coming years.
Practically, the Blue Jackets received two first-rounders and two young defensemen who have the potential to be better than Seth Jones in exchange for Seth Jones.
Also, the Blue Jackets owned the 5th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft. With that pick, they selected Michigan center, Kent Johnson. Johnson will likely develop into a winger with his premier playmaking ability and puck skills. He is a very gifted hockey player who will be very good in Columbus for years to come. It is unlikely he will be on the roster this upcoming season, but again the Blue Jackets are a rebuilding team who are not meant to win right now.
The following day the Blue Jackets and the Philadelphia Flyers swapped Cam Atkinson and Jakub Voracek. This was a fairly even trade as they are both still very solid. I assume that this was a cap swap for both teams, but there is no clear winner here.
Props to Jarmo Kekalainen for a fantastic start to the offseason, hopefully, he can continue his wonders when the free agency period begins on July 28.
Photo By: Kyle Robertson/Dispatch