The Blue Jackets need to sell at the trade deadline

Drew Taylor

Drew Taylor

After a wonderful start to the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked once again like contenders for the Stanley Cup. Near the top of the standings of the division for most of the first half of the season, the question surrounding the team was what moves they would make to load up for a playoff run, potentially having to face the always strong Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.

However, since the start of January, the team’s momentum has come to a near standstill.

The offense is severely lacking, scoring three or more goals only twice in the last 13 games, both of which ended up being losses. The Jackets have only had two wins in regulation in almost two months, with the rest being in overtime or a shootout.

Injuries have plagued the team, with Ryan Murray, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson all missing extended time. This especially hurts as Dubinsky is regarded as the best defensive forward of the team, while Atkinson led the team in goals and points last season.

And what have the Blue Jackets done in this time to improve the team? They picked up 34-year-old Jussi Jokinen on waivers, who only has one goal this season. That’s it.

This is why instead of trading assets for a playoff run, the Blue Jackets should sell at the trade deadline.

This isn’t to say they should trade away stars Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky or Zach Werenski. But the team is no longer in a position to compete, even if they do make the playoffs.

It wouldn’t make sense to give away young players or draft picks this year, but the Jackets should deal some more experienced players in hopes of competing for a Stanley Cup next season and the years after.

For example, defenseman Jack Johnson has already asked for a trade due to wanting a bigger role. His request should be granted, and he should be traded to a team that is willing to part with draft picks.

Forward Boone Jenner is a free agent after this season, and a team that needs a gritty, workhorse type player might give a young prospect or two for his services.

Would it be unfortunate to trade away two players who embraced the city of Columbus and have been two of the faces of the team for the last five seasons? Absolutely. But right now, the team needs to look ahead, especially with the coming salary cap situation in a few years.

Right now, the Blue Jackets are only a few points out of the playoffs, but it would make no sense to go all in when, in all likelihood, the team will not make it out of the first two rounds.

Making moves for the next few years, when the Capitals and Penguins get too old, and other divisional opponents such as the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are rebuilding, is the way to go.

Only Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen knows what moves he will make at the trade deadline. But if he wanted to improve the team for the next few years, he would sell, not buy.

Drew Taylor is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected]