The last two days, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been loading up for a playoff run that will determine the course of the franchise for the next decade.
In the last two days, the Columbus Blue Jackets have acquired Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for prospect Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, as well as a first round pick in 2019, a conditional first round pick in 2020, a second round pick in 2020, a second round pick in 2021, and Anthony Duclair.
Yeah, that’s a lot to give up to hinge your bets on one, eight-week stretch.
However, if there is one thing that you need to have in the NHL to stick around — it’s balls. With these two moves, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen showed that he has them.
Rather than trading Artemi Panarin and maybe Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus decided to stick to its guns and go all-in for the 2019 playoffs.
The Blue Jackets added two of the biggest names on the trade market and completely flustered all of their competition. With the addition of Duchene and Dzingel, Columbus almost instantly rockets itself to near top of the Metropolitan Division power rankings, or at least close to it.
There are two sides to every story, though. This is a franchise that has never won a playoff series. The closest that it has gotten was going six games against Pittsburgh in 2014 and six games against Washington in 2018. Other than that, the team has not been able to put it together in the “second season” since its inception.
If the Blue Jackets falter in the postseason, that is it. They are cooked. They stand a slim chance of re-signing Duchene in this scenario, but I believe that if things go poorly, this is it for Panarin, Bobrovsky and Dzingel. It is a tough pill to swallow for Blue Jackets fans and management alike, but that is the card that they are playing with.
Columbus’ main roadblock in its search for glory will be Tampa Bay. The juggernauts down in Florida have a ridiculous 47-11-4 record and lead the second-best team in the total NHL by 15 points.
The New York Islanders have also given the Blue Jackets fits this season, and the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins always pester in the postseason.
That is what Duchene and Dzingel are there for, however. Kekalainen clearly believes that these two players, good for a combined 102 points in 107 games, push the team over the edge. That remains to be seen, but what is known is that Columbus must succeed in the post season.
The Islanders losing John Tavares was bad, but he is one player. The Blue Jackets losing all four in one offseason would be catastrophic. It simply has not happen in the history of the NHL, but it might be seen this summer. Only time will tell how this one works out for the Blue Jackets, but everyone associated with the franchise has a right to be terrified — one was or another.
Stay tuned here or on Twitter @HighWrapHockey for more 2019 NHL trade deadline coverage.