The Columbus Blue Jackets needed a tactful summer to improve upon 2014’s breakout season and their moves have looked great. Management chose not to produce a blockbuster trade nor chase a big name free agent, yet the Jackets still look like to have improved standing going into the 2014-2015 campaign. Here’s Columbus’ offseason broken down:
The Scott Hartnell Trade
What a steal. The Jackets essentially dumped a deteriorating RJ Umberger and a 4th round pick for a player with the same skills and intangibles, only better.
Hartnell, a gritty power forward, brings the same veteran leadership as Umberger with a side of top-6 offensive ability. He embodies the Blue Jackets’ mentality perfectly. Hartnell plays hard, mean and with passion. He’s coming off his seventh 20-goal season and is just two years removed from his 2012 explosion which included 37 goals and 67 points.
Umberger, on the other hand, had fallen out of favor among the Jackets’ fan base. His numbers were continually decreasing while his speed and hands were noticeably poor.
Consensus around the hockey world deems something fishy about this one-sided trade. We may never know exactly why Hartnell was shipped out of Philadelphia. Usually trades markedly in one team’s favor are the result of a player demanding a trade, thus forcing their GM to shop him around, lowering his value. Another possibility could have been a fall from favor in Philadelphia, for reasons that stemming from on or off-the-ice matters. In the end, speculation is just that, and all we can do is celebrate cashing in on the situation.
The Dubinsky Extension
Earlier this morning, Columbus announced the signing of beloved two-way forward Brandon Dubinsky to a 6-year extension. The deal is worth $35.1 million and comes into effect following the upcoming season. An average cap hit of $5.85 million a year is quite manageable and a bit less than what he could fetch on the open market. Securing Dubinsky, a key player to the organization’s success, is the second most important extension GM Jarmo Kekalainen wanted to secure this summer. His top priority is still a Ryan Johansen super-extension.
A Few Notes
The Blue Jackets picked Sonny Milano with the 16th overall pick in the draft. Milano tore up the USHL last year with 39 points in 25 games. He is best known for his wizard-like stick skills which can be seen here: Stick Tricks With Sonny Milano
The Jackets were unable to come to terms with free agent defenseman Nikita Nikitin and traded his negotiating rights to the Oilers for a 5th round pick. Edmonton proceeded to graciously overpay him at 2-years, $9 million.
Depth players David Savard, Corey Tropp and Cody Goloebuf were all signed to extensions over the holiday weekend.