Fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets might be upset that Marian Gaborik was sent off to the Los Angeles Kings, but looking at both moves the Blue Jackets made on Wednesday, they actually did pretty well setting themselves up for success.
First, Blue Jackets fans have to accept that Gaborik turned out to be an absolute bust. When he was acquired last year, it was arguably the biggest trade in the franchise’s 14-year history; however, Gaborik never played like the All-Star the Blue Jackets hoped they would receive. Gaborik was traded to Columbus on April 3, 2013. Since then, the Blue Jackets have played 74 games, but Gaborik has only played in 34 of them due to injury. He was much more of a liability than an asset, and it was time for the Blue Jackets to cut their losses.
In return for Gaborik, the Blue Jackets received forward Matt Frattin and two future draft picks, one of which is a second-round pick in 2014, which gives them three picks in the first two rounds in the next draft. Frattin might not be an elite player, but at just 28-years old, he has yet to reach his full potential and will fit in just fine playing alongside Artem Anisimov or Brandon Dubinsky.
The main issue with Gaborik is that he would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, and the chances of him re-signing in Columbus were minimal. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen was smart to get as much value for him as possible before he was forced to watch him walk away.
The trade that no one is talking about is how the Blue Jackets absolutely stole Nick Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers. In exchange for just a fifth-round pick, Columbus received a 6-foot-1 defenseman with over 870 games experience in the NHL. The Blue Jackets are an inexperienced team and will hopefully receive a veteran spark from Schultz.
I’m sure Blue Jackets fans are sick and tired of hearing how their team is “looking toward the future,” but this team is no longer one of the worst teams in the NHL. They are currently eight games over .500 and tied for the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan division. The Blue Jackets have played fine without Gaborik, and there is no reason to take them out of the playoff picture just because the most known name on the roster is gone. They still have plenty of weapons.
Sergei Bobrovsky is a superstar and gives the Blue Jackets a chance to win every night he’s in between the pipes. Ryan Johansen is having a career season and at only 21-years old, he is proving that he’s one of the premiere players in the game. James Wisniewski is currently 13th in the NHL in points among defenseman, and Jack Johnson is as solid as they come on the blue line. Frattin and Schultz will only help the push.
Remember, the Blue Jackets have never won a playoff game. In 2009, they made the playoffs but were swept by the Detroit Red Wings. Don’t be surprised if that ends this year.