It is the first month of the NHL season, which is filled with overreaction and unfound rumors. All 30 teams are part of them, but one proposed trade in particular has people talking.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils are both hovering around the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. The Jackets are the biggest disappointment in the league. After a splashy offseason that brought in playoff hero Brandon Saad from the Chicago Blackhawks, they have yet to win a game in their first seven. There are rumors that they desperately need to make a move for defensive help.
The Devils haven’t been terrible, but still only have five points in six games. They could sorely use offensive help, with only 11 goals scored. People are now saying that the Devils and Blue Jackets have discussed a swap of young possible stars Adam Larsson and Cam Atkinson.
This is an awful deal for the Devils.
Even if the Jackets throw in another player or picks, the Devils have a piece that could become irreplaceable. Larsson was considered the best prospect in the 2011 draft for parts of the process. He had immense defensive talent, but was held back by a former coach. Since being given a second chance, he has thrived. He is a true, top-pairing defenseman at just 22 years old. He could have 15 more years playing at an elite level on the blue line.
Atkinson is a very good young player, but what is his peak? Larsson’s ceiling is as one of the best at his position in the league. There is no guarantee that he will ever get there, but the possibility is there. Atkinson’s ceiling is not that of a super, duper star. Larsson could become the best player on the Devils. There are players who could have much better careers than Atkinson on Columbus.
Larsson signed what will look like a very team-friendly contract. He signed on for six years, and just $25 million. You don’t rush to move such a good contract for a great young player who has yet to reach his peak.
The likely outcome is the Devils and Blue Jackets will probably agree on a smaller trade. Maybe a Jon Merrill type player for picks and prospects. The Blue Jackets are in a bad way. They fired their coach already. Now, the roster needs to change. The Devils need to hold out for a superstar if they are going to let go of Larsson. Even then, they really shouldn’t let him go.