Blue Jackets' under-the-radar deadline haul sets up nicely for playoff run

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Ian Cole (Getty Pictures)

You’re forgiven if most of your commerce deadline consideration was targeted on the Canadian capital.

The Senators held probably the most intrigue main up to three p.m. ET on Monday, notably with regard to captain Erik Karlsson’s state of affairs. For all the rumor and hypothesis that’s been thrown round — feuds with administration, unhappiness with the staff’s course, amongst different issues — the Senators weren’t beneath any strain to get a deal completed now.

GM Pierre Dorion merely stated the market wasn’t there to make what he thought-about a “franchise deal” for their franchise participant. It’s now going to tug into the summer time, however sometimes, the bigger offers are consummated close to the draft anyway.

Whereas the highlight was on Ottawa, Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen quietly went to work on a productive and price-efficient commerce deadline for his sputtering group. Columbus, getting into Monday’s slate of video games, sat two factors up on the Islanders and Hurricanes and 5 factors up on the Panthers (however Florida had 4 video games in hand) … they wanted some sort of a jolt.

Kekalainen’s physique of labor gained’t come outfitted with headlines and a ton of pleasure, however he managed to plug some key holes for the Blue Jackets and provides them a greater probability to compete down the stretch. Given the canine battle they’re in, they’ll want each bit they will get.

It began Sunday afternoon with the acquisition of Mark Letestu, a flexible veteran who “reduce his tooth” in Columbus over 4 seasons, as he advised the media after the commerce. It was robust for each side to half by way of free company in 2015, however Letestu is again for one other playoff run with the Blue Jackets and it value them a fourth-spherical decide. No hurt, no foul, and Letestu’s capacity to chip in on each particular groups models is vital.

And when Kekalainen struck a cope with Dorion for Ian Cole on Monday morning — the primary commerce of deadline day — it definitely appeared as if Jack Johnson can be subsequent to go. It didn’t end up that means, and now, John Tortorella has loads of choices (up to 10 NHL defensemen once they’re at full capability) as he places his lineup collectively.

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Tortorella stated he spoke with Mike Sullivan, his personal good friend and Cole’s former coach in Pittsburgh, to get a really feel for what his latest defenseman brings.

“He’s a competitor and has a bit pedigree of profitable a pair Stanley Cups right here … and I feel he has some character too. He’s an excellent addition for us,” Tortorella stated.

The Blue Jackets’ energy play has been their Achilles’ heel all season, and it’s gotten to the purpose the place Tortorella gained’t even speak about it. They’ve been higher because the All-Star break after a woeful begin, however the Letestu and Thomas Vanek trades appear to level in that path: getting offensive-minded guys in there who’ve expertise, and Vanek will doubtless get a shot on the internet-entrance.

“We need to give our group the absolute best probability to make the playoffs,” Kekalainen stated. “That’s the objective. Including the veterans we added (this weekend and Monday) will give us a greater probability. We like our workforce proper now.”

So far as unresolved enterprise, the Blue Jackets weren’t capable of transfer Johnson, whose commerce request turned public within the months main up to the deadline. They’ll maintain him as an “personal rental,” Kekalainen stated, and be a part of what’s now a deeper group of defensemen. 

With six weeks to go and a slim cushion on a playoff spot, the Blue Jackets wanted some exterior assist on the deadline. They acquired it, and within the course of, their GM was capable of hold his excessive picks and keep his present roster. Not a nasty day of labor.