They own the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, a surprisingly deep group of NHL defensemen, and their general manager learned his trade as an executive in Edmonton. Are the Columbus Blue Jackets a good trading partner for the Oilers?
I’d argue that the Blue Jackets are a legitimate trading partner for the Oilers, but that there’s at least one problem: the team has a couple of other pressing items on its plate.
They’re in the middle of trying to move the face of their franchise, Rick Nash. In a year with a weak free agent crop, Nash is bound to appeal to teams – he’s a 6’4” power forward with 30+ goals in seven of his last eight seasons. At last report fully one-third of the league was in discussing a trade with the Blue Jackets for his services, despite the fact that his contract runs until 2017-18.
Nash was the Jacket’s first overall pick back in 2002; might the first overall pick this year appeal to Columbus? According to Red Line Report, probably not:
If [the Blue Jackets are] going to lose Rick Nash, they’ll probably want to sell their fans on a talented young forward. But their recent history of drafting Russians at the top of the draft – Nikita Filatov and Nikolai Zherdev – might make them understandably leery of taking even Russians like Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko who have come over to play junior in North America.
Red Line goes on to suggest that the Blue Jackets might rather move down rather than up, and on Friday general manager Scott Howson confirmed that they had discussed moving down in the draft with other teams.
Between trying to move the most important player in the history of the franchise and trying to move down from the second overall position – a pair of deals the Oilers will have no interest in – Scott Howson is going to be plenty busy. Aside from the fact that he’s busy, the simple truth is that the return on those trades is going to alter the dynamic of his team in a significant way; Columbus might have very different needs coming out of those deals than they had going in.
If there is a trade between the two teams, it would likely see the Blue Jackets send away an excess blue-liner in exchange for help up front (a lengthy rebuild does not seem to be the intention in Columbus right now). The team may well add a good defenseman in the Nash trade, and they already landed Jack Johnson – while I’m personally not bullish on Johnson, Jackets’ beat reporter Aaron Portzline described the club as “smitten” with his work – and the surprisingly impressive Nikita Nikitin in trades last year. Those players join a defense corps that already features reliable veteran Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, Marc Methot and 2009 first round pick John Moore. The Oilers were reportedly interested in Methot in the period leading up to the trade deadline, though with the acquisition of Nick Schultz that presumably is no longer the case.
Still, the Blue Jackets have a logjam on defense, and one that might get bigger if and when Nash gets dealt. If the Oilers are trading with them to alleviate that problem, the logical target is Fedor Tyutin. Lowetide wrote about Tyutin two months ago on this site, and his wrap-up then is equally applicable now:
Fedor Tyutin is perhaps the most attractive option we’ve looked at so far in this series. He has good size for an NHL defenseman, is mobile and adept at moving the puck. He’s been healthy (this season aside, he broke his right hand earlier this month and is out indefinitely). He is signed to a long contract, could come into the organization and serve as a legit top pairing option and he could also mentor some of the youngsters coming along. The price tag would be heavy, but the Oilers have picks, prospects and young NHL players in abundance. This might be a very good match for both sides.
Tyutin would be an ideal fit for the Oilers in all areas. His cap hit is a very reasonable $4.5 million, he brings things to the table that the Oilers need in their organization, and above all else he’s a very good NHL defenseman. Columbus may not be willing to move him – and if they’re only interested in dumping their depth defenders it’s hard to believe the Oilers would be interested – but given what the Colubmus blue line looks like right now and their obvious needs up front it only makes sense for the Oilers to ask.
If Tyutin isn’t an option, James Wisniewski or Nikita Nikitin might be. Neither is as ideal a fit for Edmonton’s needs, but both would represent an upgrade on what’s currently in the system.
This week by Jonathan Willis
- Dale Tallon: things get worse before they get better
- The Edmonton Oilers are getting a little light on forward prospects
- How much did Nail Yakupov’s knee injury impact his offensive numbers?
- Should the Edmonton Oilers talk to San Jose about Douglas Murray?
- Big decisions: Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene for Lubomir Visnovsky
- Is big forward Ludvig Rensfeldt worth drafting?
- Red Line Report: "We think Edmonton is open to shopping that top pick."
- Should teams build from the net out, like the Kings did with Quick?
- Jon Cooper, the most interesting man in hockey
- Congratulations to the 2012 Los Angeles Kings
- Craig MacTavish returns to the Edmonton Oilers