Columbus Blue Jackets: If They Can't Get Jeff Carter, Then What?
General manager Scott Howson has said time and time again that the team is prepared to trade the draft pick to bring in immediate help for the team.
Then a couple weeks ago, rumors emerged that the Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers had been in discussions about sending the first-round pick as well as Jakub Voracek to the Flyers for 26-year-old Jeff Carter.
As the rumors began to intensify, Carter's agent, via NHL.com, stated that Carter had talked to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and that he was not going to be traded.
Then last night, HockeyBuzz.com published a blog that stated "Jeff Carter has NOT been traded to Columbus," which was to deny a tweet that had been posted earlier that evening.
Regardless of what either side says, the future of Jeff Carter will not be known until after the draft and free-agency period begin.
It will be interesting to see the game plan that Scott Howson has in play, if the Blue Jackets are unsuccessful in bringing Carter to Columbus.
Here are a couple of scenarios that could happen.
Trade the Pick for Other Flyers
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If the Flyers decide to hang on to Jeff Carter, they will still need to clear out cap space so that they are able to sign goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Russian netminder is asking for a large amount of money, and the Flyers are close to the salary cap already, which is why Jeff Carter and his 11-year contract were being mentioned in the first place.
Another option is dealing away players whose combined salaries would open up space for Bryzgalov.
Two mentioned names have been defenseman Matt Carle and winger Kris Versteeg.
Carle, a free agent at the end of next season, would fill the Blue Jackets' need for an offensive-minded defenseman.
Versteeg, although not a top-line center like Scott Howson wants, could still upgrade the first line with Rick Nash and Derick Brassard. I left out winger Jakub Voracek because of all the talk about him being included in a package deal with the draft pick.
This may be the Blue Jackets' best option if they cannot acquire Carter, because they could fill a necessary need on the blueline as well as make the team's top line more competitive.
Trade the Pick to Edmonton for Ales Hemsky
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Another option for the Blue Jackets, if they cannot get Jeff Carter, is to attempt to acquire Edmonton Oilers winger Ales Hemsky.
Edmonton would love to have two picks in the top 10 of this year's draft, as they continue their rebuilding process.
Hemsky has been mentioned as an interest for GM Scott Howson and, like Versteeg, could upgrade the Blue Jackets' top line.
However, there are a couple issues that come with looking to deal for Hemsky.
One, Howson has stated that he wants a top-line center for the eighth pick, not a top-line winger. However, if it's slim pickens come draft time, the GM may not have a choice.
Another issue is that the eighth pick may not be enough to bring Hemsky in. So the Jackets may need to add some prospects to the deal. Jakub Voracek could be included in the deal, and Edmonton may ask for another prospect, such as defenseman John Moore.
This may be too much to give for a player that can be injury-prone.
Hemsky has had issues with both of his shoulders the past few years, as well as a torn groin muscle and concussion.
When healthy, Hemsky is a great player, but it may be a huge risk for Howson.
Trade the Pick to Toronto
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If anyone has been keeping up with this year's offseason, it is clear that the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke, is looking to make a big splash.
The Leafs have been rumored to be interested in several players, including Brad Richards, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Steven Stamkos.
Burke feels that this year's draft class is deep, and if Howson cannot strike a deal with Philadelphia or Edmonton, he should give Burke a listen.
The only problem with making a deal with Burke is who would the Blue Jackets get in return? Clarke Macarthur has been mentioned as possible trade bait this offseason in trying to bring in top talent, but he is not what the Blue Jackets are looking for.
Unless Howson can get Burke to give up some of the Leafs' top players, this deal will most likely not happen.
Go for Broke and Do Whatever It Takes To Bring Jeff Carter to Columbus
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It's simple, if you want something, you have to go and get it.
Howson wants a top-line center for the eighth pick, and Carter is the only player mentioned in this list that fits the bill.
According to the Dark Blue Jacket, Howson has said, in regards to a trade during the draft, that "we'll talk about anybody but Rick Nash."
Well it is time to put your money where your mouth is and go to the Philadelphia Flyers and say "I want Carter, what do you want for him?"
If the Blue Jackets have to give up prospects, then so be it. If the team is committed to winning now, then dealing away a couple prospects should not be an issue.
I could see almost every prospect being fair game, except for center Ryan Johansen.
With the capability of scoring 40 goals a season, Carter would instantly make the Blue Jackets a contender for the postseason.
If Howson wants a top-line center, then it is clear that he needs to do whatever it takes to make that a reality.