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Initial Recation: Hjalmarsson and Saad/Panarin trades 

The host city for this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Chicago, made a gigantic splash early on in the day. 

Shortly after the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs, general manager Stan Bowman promised change. Clearly unhappy with being swept out in the first round, change is exactly what Stan Bowman brought. 

The first move he made was trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. Although initially believed to be a salary cap move, the Blackhawks wound up only saving approximately $300,000. 

Trading Hjalmarsson was surely a difficult endeavor for Bowman. The Swede has been one of the most underrated defensemen in the league for quite some time now. 

Connor Murphy is a formidable NHL player but he is not at the caliber of Hjalmarsson, at least not yet. To be fair, Murphy is younger and carries more of a certainty with his cost (signed for five more years at $3.85 million). Hjalmarsson only has two more seasons left on his current deal before he hits unrestricted free agency. 

Dauphin, once considered a top prospect, has fallen off a bit, but he still holds the capability of being an NHL regular. Whether he plays in Chicago or Rockford next season remains to be seen. 

However, with no disrespect towards Murphy or Dauphin, this is a great trade for Arizona. Hjalmarsson will serve as a good mentor and experienced winner on a young Coyotes squad. Plus, obviously, he is a fantastic defender. 

The Blackhawks were not done yet though. A few moments later, rumblings from Elliott Friedman indicated a swap involving Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin was in the air. With a few extra moving parts, the deal did eventually go through. 

The final result was Columbus getting Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago getting Brandon Saad (back) and Anton Forsberg. Low picks were also swapped. 

It is hard to get a read on this trade. Panarin and Kane had chemistry, but you could put almost anyone on Kane’s line and they will click given Kane’s skill set. 

The overarching theme here, I believe, is that the Hawks were looking for someone to play with Jonathan Toews. He and Saad were dominant in the few years they were together. After consecutive disappointing years by Toews, maybe this will give him the boost he needs. 

As for Panarin, he was just set to begin a new deal with Chicago. He is set to earn $6 million for the next two years before hitting unrestricted free agency. 

This is a trade that will be looked at in hindsight after seeing how Saad and Panarin perform on their (technically) new teams. 

As for the other pieces, Motte will likely slot in the bottom six for Columbus. Forsberg will have the chance to compete for a backup spot in Chicago. 

Stay tuned for more draft coverage. 

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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Predicting Protected Lists: Columbus Blue Jackets 

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in a very vulnerable position when it comes to the expansion draft. Even if things go perfectly, they will still be losing an important player to Vegas. 

First things first, Scott Hartnell’s situation needs to be looked at. Currently, Hartnell has two more years at $4.75 million per on his contract. In addition, he carries a no-movement clause, which, as we all know, requires him to be protected in the expansion draft. 

The consensus is that Columbus will either get Hartnell to waive his clause so they can keep a younger player, or Hartnell we be bought out. The latter option is certainly worse for Columbus due to the term remaining on Hartnell’s contract. 

No matter how it happens, though, Columbus cannot afford to have Hartnell on their protected list over the likes of William Karlsson, Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson, or someone else of greater significance than the agitator. 

Assuming Hartnell is not on the protected list, the Jackets will have to choose seven forwards from a crop of eight or nine that deserve protection. 

The players that will undoubtedly be protected include Brandon Saad, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, and Cam Atkinson. 

That leaves two spots for Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson, and William Karlsson. 

Wennberg could almost be placed into the previous category mentioned. Wennberg is an extremely valuable, versatile, and young center that Jarmo Kekalainen certainly will not want to lose. 

So, essentially, the choice comes down to Josh Anderson or William Karlsson. Anderson, 23, had 17 goals and 29 points in 78 games last season. Karlsson, 24, had six goals and 25 points in 81 games. 

The stats favor Anderson slightly, however both players are important to Columbus’ success. However, if I had to place money on it, I think Columbus would protect Josh Anderson in this scenario, and I think that is how it is going to play out in a week. 

As for defensemen, Columbus can protect three of Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, David Savard, and Jack Johnson. In terms of age and contracts, it is a safe bet to think that it will be Jones, Murray, and Savard that get the protection slots. 

In goal, Sergei Bobrovsky has a no-movement clause and must be protected. Bobrovsky, a Hart Trophy finalist this year, would have been protected anyways. 

This, though, leaves Joonas Korpisalo unprotected. Korpisalo has the potential to turn into an NHL starter and would also be very enticing for Vegas. 

The Blue Jackets protection list could wind up looking like this:

Forwards: Brandon Saad, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, Josh Anderson

Defense: Ryan Murray, David Savard, Seth Jones

Goalie: Sergei Bobrovsky 

The Vegas Golden Knights could take either William Karlsson or Joonas Korpisalo if this is the case. It all depends on what else is out there and what their needs are. 

Next team: Dallas Stars 

Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Despite having no quality unrestricted free agents, Blue Jackets expected to be active at trade deadline 

The Columbus Blue Jackets were never able to recover from starting the season with eight straight regulation losses and have put themselves into the position to sell at the 2016 NHL trade deadline. However, they are a strange case, as they only have two unrestricted free agents, both of which would barely fetch a low pick. 

Those two free players are Rene Bourque and Justin Falk. Both men are not appetizing to teams making a Cup run. Columbus does have some assets they could still trade, though. 

One is Scott Hartnell. The 33 year old winger has a respectable 39 points in 58 games this year and is a known agitator. Hartnell still has three years left on his salary. For a team looking to make a playoff push this year and next year, it’s a good investment. But you run the risk of having a worn down and potentially non-productive Hartnell in the last two years of his deal. We’ll see if anyone takes the bait. 

Another favorite to be traded is veteran defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Tyutin is 32 with two more years left on his deal after this one. 

Do teams take a risk going after these players with term left? Tyutin would have one year left and Hartnell would have two if the NHL expanded for the 2017-2018 season, where they could potentially be dropped into the expansion draft by the team who acquires them. Anyways, we’ll put the tinfoil hats away for now. 

As the trade deadline goes, Hartnell and Tyutin should be two names that float around. Whether that is the extent of Columbus’ moves next Monday or not, we do not know. However, the roster will looked changed going into next season regardless.  

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles