The NHL Trade Deadline has now past, everyone knew that the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to be big players: be that by selling their two star players, Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky, or by going all-in for one big push for the Stanley Cup. While it came at a hefty cost, the Blue Jackets have certainly committed a lot in an attempt to win it all this season.
On February 22nd, they traded prospects, a 2019 first-round pick, and a conditional 2020 first-round pick to the Ottawa Senators for coveted playmaker Matt Duchene and Julius Bergman, with the condition being that the center re-signs with the Blue Jackets. The next day, Columbus returned to Ottawa to pick off another much sought-after expiring forward in Ryan Dzingel, giving up Anthony Duclair, a 2020 second, and a 2021 second round pick.
On deadline day, February 25th, they bolstered their goaltending corps with Keith Kinkaid from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2020 fifth-round pick. To finish up their dealings, the Blue Jackets added Adam McQuaid to strengthen their top six, sending Julius Bergman, a 2019 fourth, and a 2019 seventh-round pick.
The Columbus Blue Jackets now boast a fearsome looking top six, with Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Cam Atkinson on the top line and Ryan Dzingel, Matt Duchene and Oliver Bjorkstrand on the second line. Then there are also the likes of Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky skating in the bottom six. The defensive lines were already strong, but having the stern, hard-hitting defensive defenseman Adam McQuaid on the bottom line and in short-handed situations certainly toughens up the unit.
At the 62-game mark, after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets are outside of the wildcard places by a single point but have a game in hand on the Pens and the Carolina Hurricanes – who have continued their hot streak to sneak into a Metropolitan place. Given a few games to gel with their new teammates, the Blue Jackets look set to charge for a playoff spot and be a menacing contender in the playoffs.
Did Columbus’ trades change their odds to win the Stanley Cup?
Before the NHL Trade Deadline, the Columbus Blue Jackets sat with odds of +2000 to win the Stanley Cup. Two days and one game after, their odds still sit at +2000. However, this is a case of the odds not adjusting to the revelations of the trade window as opposed to an actual reflection of the quality of the team, instead focusing more on their current standing.
With around a month and a week left of the season, it’s clear to see that the Blue Jackets now have a team that’s capable of pushing past the Pittsburgh Penguins or the Montreal Canadiens in the wildcard places. Carolina looks good to hold onto their divisional place now, having maintained their roster and their run post-deadline. But Columbus doesn’t have the easiest run of games to finish the season.
To finish up February, they take on the surging, but Wayne Simmonds-less, Philadelphia Flyers. In March, they’ll encounter the Winnipeg Jets, play the Penguins home and away to try and rectify their 0-3-3 record since Game 4 of the 2017 quarterfinals against Sidney Crosby and Co., and the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins on back-to-back nights. But it doesn’t end there: next is the Hurricanes and Bruins, again on back-to-back nights, followed by the Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens, and Nashville Predators to finish March. Their final three games are against the Bruins and then the Rangers and Senators on back-to-back nights.
It’s a grim run to the end of the season for the Blue Jackets, but this team is now equipped to deal with the pressures of the push and the subsequent playoffs. A wildcard place is certainly in reach of this team if they land timely wins against the Pens and Habs, but when they get to the playoffs, they’ll almost certainly have to go through the Tampa Bay Lightning if they want to land the Stanley Cup – a mission that no team is favored to achieve.