CBJ Trade Deadline Day +1: The Aftermath
- Updated: March 6, 2014
The sun did come up this morning, which has surprised a few people in Blue Jackets Nation. I wanted to wait a day to give my opinion on deadline day to hopefully gain a little perspective. Yesterday the reaction was pretty negative across the board, but that could just be the nature of the social media I was following. I spent my deadline day streaming TSN Trade Centre on NHL.com, and following along on twitter. When the news finally broke around 1:30 that Marian Gaborik was being traded, I wasn’t surprised, mostly because Aaron Portzline from the Columbus Dispatch spent the morning tweeting that the Jackets were shopping him hard, and that he was as good as gone. I was surprised what the return was (I may have tweeted out “Who is Matt Frattin?” and I may have spelled Frattin wrong), but I’m not a GM, so I wasn’t terribly offended by the return. The Nick Shultz deal with Edmonton for a 5th rounder within the hour did serve a need we have now at a bargain price, but seemed to infuriate the masses. The Islanders dealing Vanek after 3pm was the angry cherry on top, because the armchair quarterbacks thought we could have landed him for nothing. I just viewed it as another sign the trade market wasn’t paying out a lot for high profile players, and it showed me we got all we were going to get for Gaborik. Two draft picks and a 26 year old forward for a guy that played the last four games was a pretty fair return.
The worst part of the trade deadline as it drew to its final minutes was a rumor on Twitter that the Bruins were after Jack Johnson. I thought it was going to cause a full blown meltdown, even though I didn’t view it as a realistic possibility. Of course, social media isn’t necessarily about what is realistic. Twitter is a good quick resource to get your news, but it is also subject to hyperbole and overreaction, followed only by larger overreactions. As we took a step back after the dust settled, we can be pleased that our team didn’t panic and didn’t gut our core of good young players. We traded away a guy that played 4 full games since November, and didn’t trade anyone else on the big league roster. We aren’t just making trades for the sake of making one for a playoff run this year. We’re making a run at being a consistently high performer in the NHL. The trade deadline this year proved that we’re here to play long term.
The best explanation for the Marian Gaborik trade came straight from the top. Blue Jackets General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen’s press conference shortly after the deadline (available here at http://video.bluejackets.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=568299) showed that the Jackets weren’t going to be in the Gaborik business next year, and the next 20 games of a player who didn’t fit in this team, wasn’t worth passing on a 2nd and 3rd round pick for. I still believe the trade last season to acquire him was a good one, and the problem wasn’t Gaborik’s effort or desire. From all accounts he loves Columbus, both the City and the Team, and wanted to stay. His play on the ice wasn’t an issue of hustle and want, but it was just the game that he brings not matching the play of our other guys. If he goes to the Kings and plays great the rest of the season it, doesn’t make me think that we messed up by trading him, it shows that his play wasn’t tailored to the Blue Jacket style and roster.
Nick Shultz brings something the CBJ really need now, health and depth on the defense. When the Olympic break ended we thought we finally had the full healthy roster we were expecting to have on the ice all year. Fedor Tyutin played a great Olympics, even if it was overshadowed by his team’s overall play, but an ankle injury will cost him at least 2 of the 7 weeks Columbus had left on the schedule coming out of the break. Ryan Murray’s recent injury was the final straw to force this team to deal for a defender. In Jarmo’s press conference yesterday, he said Murray’s injury “could be a week, it could be longer.” I’m sure they have a better idea than they are letting on, but the combination of Tyutin, Murray, and Tim Erixon’s injuries, all but forced their hand and caused them to deal for Shultz. A 5th round pick isn’t nothing, but if Shultz gives us the depth and experience for the playoff run over the next 20 games then it’s worth it.
As the organization has stated, “our team is on the ice.” We all wish Marian Gaborik would have been a better fit and would have been healthy, but this isn’t fantasy hockey. We have 20 games left over the next 5 weeks. We acquired Matt Frattin and Nick Shultz to help us get to the playoffs. We can feel bad that Marian Gaborik didn’t work out for us and we can appreciate his time here. The slogan “brick by brick” serves not only to show us the way forward, but expresses the patience needed to get where we want to be. The road ahead is arduous, but we’re 1 point behind 3rd place and 3 points out of 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand. It may not help that the game in hand is tonight in Chicago against a Stanley Cup favorite, but that’s the game on the schedule. I think when the final horn blows on April 12th we will be a playoff team, and not just getting in via the wildcard. Hindsight will provide us with perspective on what moves were made today, and I think those moves will pay off and will be one more well placed brick.