Failure to Adapt; Nugent-Hopkins to Columbus?!?
Tortorella 'benched' Laine at the end of games recently and there has been much discussion surrounding it. An argument can be made that he was attempting to protect a 3rd period lead and thus playing more defensive-minded players. Laine is known to be deficient in this area and has other skills suited to a different style game. I'm trying to say in the nicest possible way that he turns the puck over and is not be responsible in the defensive zone. That is a good reason for Torts to hold him out of the game near the end with a one-goal-lead.
This defensive-minded protectionist style of hockey is proving to be archaic. This team was built for that style of play in seasons past and it worked. Personnel has changed and there has been a failure to adapt. This team has players that are adept at scoring but have not been put in a system to thrive. They have not been given the opportunity to succeed.
This team could be 'show time'. Instead Torts continues to force players to play a conservative, defensive style. Laine and Domi were not brought in to play defense. Up and down this line-up players trend toward a team that can play 'fast break' hockey. Atkinson has proven he can score goals. Laine, while somewhat of a defensive liability, has a shot like no other. And if those two are your primary scorers it will open ice for Bjork, Roslovic and Texier to put up points as well. Bemer is also known for his shot and Robinson has unmatched speed. Looking at the defensive side, our top two defensemen are puck-moving scorers. Gavrikov also seems to have the knack to move the puck quickly up ice and find the net with his shots.
One must be careful what they wish for...a fast break/show time style of offense-first team gives up lots of chances going the other way. This style of team worked extremely well for the Pens, Caps and Blackhawks but hasn't proven sustainable for Edmonton or Toronto.
Tell me what you think, should this team stay defensive minded or has the roster changed enough that an offense-first adaptation is needed?
Rumor has it that the Oilers are interested in one of the CBJ goaltenders and are willing to swap Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to get one. RNH has been to subject of trade rumors since the time he was drafted by EDM.
He was taken 1st overall in 2011, is 27 years old and has played in the NHL since he was drafted (this is his 10th season). In 635 regular season games he has 466 points (179 G; 287 A). Playing in the post season only two seasons (2017 & 2020) he has 12 points (2 G; 10 A) in 17 games. With 10 years of experience he could be called a veteran, at age 27 he still has lots left in the tank.
Both Elvis and Korpi have shown that they can play at a high level in the NHL. Both have also shown to be inconsistent at times. I'm not sure JK is ready to part with either one of them quite yet. Each is signed through the end of the 2022 season. Elvis has a Cap hit of $4M while Korpi sits at $2.8M. Cap spaces isn't an issue for the Jackets but is for the Oilers.
Moving RNH $6M salary in favor of Korpi's $2.8M would provide them much needed Cap relief for a team likely to be adding at the trade deadline. Even the $4M salary Elvis carries would give them some wiggle room. This move would make sense for Edmonton, but how about for Columbus.
True, Columbus is looking for a talented NHL center to compliment Laine. And this could jump-start the team that is still a playoff contender. It would also add to an offense-first identity. The problem for the Jackets is that RNH becomes an UFA at season's end. He is a rental. Unless JK finds a way to agree to a deal with him as part of the trade. Vegas pulled that off with Stone a few years back, but it seems unlikely here. This trade would have to include conditions such as:
To Columbus: RNH + 1st round pick (conditional)
Condition: RNH does not re-sign with CBJ, EDM compensates with 1st round pick, if he does re-sign the pick moves to 4th round
To Edmonton: Korpi
Excuse the mis-matched value with draft picks, this is only an example I don't intend to say that Korpi is worth RNH and a 1st round pick, but rather EDM would compensate if RNH didn't re-sign in Columbus.
Elvis could also be substituted in here if Columbus agreed to retain part of his salary.
I'm not sold on this deal, but I do think that Jarmo needs to get some value for one of these two goalies. Using that value to return a C would be wise, but maybe not RNH given the track record of UFAs leaving C-Bus.
Evaluate this trade or propose another.
Good Luck and GO JACKETS!