Whether or not they want to admit it, the Columbus Blue Jackets have entered a rebuild. If it’s not a rebuild, then it can definitely be considered a rebranding. When the puck drops in October, this Columbus Blue Jackets team will look very different compared to what it looked like at the start of last season.
It started at the trade deadline when Columbus traded their long-time defenseman, David Savard, in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then it was their captain, Nick Foligno, who departed to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In hindsight, Columbus got great returns for the veteran players and Savard ended up winning the Stanley Cup.
That was just the beginning.
Over the weekend, Columbus made two blockbuster trades that rocked the hockey world.
Seth Jones Trade
First, it was Seth Jones. Jones was traded to Chicago just hours before the draft. Columbus packaged him with pick number 32 in the draft and a 2022 sixth round pick and sent him to Chicago. In return, Columbus received Adam Boqvist, picks number 12 and 44 and a 2022 first round pick.
Columbus flipped the 2021 second round pick to Carolina for defenseman Jake Bean.
Columbus traded away their former alternate captain for two young defensemen and a 2022 first round pick. In addition, they got to move up 20 spots in the first round of the draft. That is a pretty good return for a guy who didn’t want to re-sign anyway.
Seth Jones is expected to sign an eight-year contract extension with Chicago where he will make $9.5 million on average.
Cam Atkinson Trade
From one alternate captain to another, Columbus shocked the hockey world on Saturday when they traded Cam Atkinson to Philadelphia in exchange for Jakub Voracek in a one-for-one deal. The move came at a surprise to everyone including Atkinson, who was reportedly celebrating his son’s third birthday party.
Atkinson was very loyal to the Blue Jackets organization and the city of Columbus where he resided and was very active in the community. They traded Atkinson for Voracek, the former first round pick by Columbus in the 2007 NHL Draft. Voracek was one of the main pieces that was traded to Philadelphia in 2011 for Jeff Carter in a trade that a lot of Columbus fans want to forget.
Atkinson was expected to be the heart and soul of the team this upcoming season. He was probably in line to become the next captain of the team. The only thing going against Atkinson was the decline in his offensive production dating back to the departure of Artemi Panarin. Aside from the emotions of the sport, Columbus feels they got an upgrade in Voracek who has put up more consistent offensive numbers.
Voracek is the larger and more physical player compared to Atkinson. Plus, Voracek’s contract is shorter than that of Cam Atkinson’s, however Voracek’s cap hit does come at a higher cost. Philadelphia wanted to unload some of their larger contracts. Columbus wanted to look for a player who would complement Patrik Laine better on the top line.
Out with the Old, In with the New
When Columbus takes the ice on opening night, there will be fewer familiar faces. Unless they decide to re-sign in free agency, there won’t be David Savard or Nick Foligno. There will be no Cam Atkinson either or Seth Jones.
The longest tenured Blue Jacket will now be Boone Jenner, who is also now the only alternate captain for the team.
Jakub Voracek will don the Blue Jackets’ crest for the first time in almost a decade. Fans will likely be introduced to Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist as well.
The rebuild or rebrand is in full swing in Columbus.
Cover Image Courtesy of Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.