It has been a disappointing season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they have now opted to trade their captain as a result.
The Blue Jackets traded Nick Foligno to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday in a three-team deal:
As TSN's Frank Seravalli reported, Toronto will only be on the hook for part of Foligno's salary:
Frank Seravalli @frank_seravalli
#Leafs receive: Nick Foligno (at 25% of cap hit) and Stefan Noesen.#CBJ receive: TOR 2021 1st round pick, TOR 2022 4th round pick, retain 50% of Foligno's cap hit/salary.#sjsharks receive: TOR 2021 4th round pick, retain 25% of Foligno's cap hit/salary. https://t.co/dgYenpD62z
"Really excited for the opportunity!" Foligno said in a text to TSN's Pierre LeBrun. "Bittersweet with how much has been invested in Columbus, but a chance to win a Cup is all you can ask for and I truly feel it’s a great group in Toronto. Now the work begins."
Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen thanked Foligno for his contributions to the franchise in a statement:
"Nick Foligno has been everything you'd want in a captain, in a representative of your team and ambassador for your community. His contributions to the Blue Jackets franchise and the impact he and his family have had off the ice is immeasurable. We are grateful for everything he, Janelle, and their family have done for and with us over the past nine years. Given where we are right now, this move made sense for us as an organization and for Nick."
Seravalli previously reported the Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche and Washington Capitals were among the teams that could trade a first-round pick to the Blue Jackets in a deal that included Foligno.
While Foligno played the first five seasons of his career for the Ottawa Senators, it will be somewhat jarring to see him suit up for a team outside of Columbus at this point given his status with the franchise.
The Blue Jackets made the playoffs one time in their entire history before he arrived for the 2012-13 campaign. They have made the playoffs five times with him on their roster, including in each of the last four seasons.
They also won their first postseason series in franchise history when they stunned the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning with a first-round sweep in 2019.
However, they are just 15-20-8 this season and sitting in seventh place in the Central Division. Foligno is also a free agent after the season, so moving him for draft capital could help facilitate a rebuild.
Columbus also traded David Savard in a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings and landed a 2021 first-round pick and 2022 third-round pick.
As for Foligno, he was named an All-Star in 2015 and won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy and Mark Messier Leadership Award during the 2016-17 campaign in a testament to what he brings a team beyond his statistics.
The veteran has just 16 points in 42 games this season but could provide leadership and two-way play from the wing for the Maple Leafs. He is a forward who can remain on the ice during the penalty kill and create for others when on the attack.
That could help Toronto win its first Stanley Cup since 1967.