The trade deadline can be a tricky proposition for teams on the playoff bubble. In one sense, a key player here or there could propel a team over that bubble and satisfy the fan base and front office with a playoff berth. In Columbus the argument could be made that is exactly what is needed for sagging attendance figures and a quick boost for the marketing group. I’m of the opinion that anyone that holds that opinion probably doesn’t know their a** from the sun, but that is a separate debate.
There are a few players on the CBJ roster that could come into play as the deadline approaches on March 5. The most compelling and sexiest is Marian Gaborik. He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season. He has 342 goals in 13 NHL seasons, but has only played 19 games this year following a slew of injuries. He hasn’t been the same player he was in his younger days in Minnesota and New York. He’s still a major threat and could be a huge asset for a contender down the stretch on the power play, but his salary and recent lack of productivity will ultimately leave him in Columbus through the end of the season.
Another guy that could draw some interest around the league is R.J. Umberger. He’s a 6 time 20 goal scorer and a gritty forward who isn’t afraid to get to the dirty areas. His play has declined a little as he’s gotten older, but he’s a strong veteran presence in the CBJ locker room. What might deter teams from pursuing Umberger is his contract. After this year, he’s still owed $13.5 million in the next 3 years and will be 35 years old when his contract has expired.
Jarmo Kekalainen and John Davidson has made it known that no player is safe from being traded. I don’t see a lot of players that they would be willing to trade, but if the deal is right another guy they could move is Nikita Nikitin. He’s been one of their better defenseman the last 2 seasons and seems to improve each year. He has a relatively low salary and is only 27 years old. He could be a steady stay at home guy for a team looking to upgrade on the blue line. He’s another player I don’t see them moving, but he would draw a lot of interest from me if I were a GM looking for young defenseman. All in all, I really don’t see a lot of activity coming from the front offices at Nationwide Arena, but I have been wrong in the past.