The Usual Suspects
Joined: Apr. 2019
Atkinson was not a problem in Columbus, but he was still never going to reach his 40+ goal total again. His community involvement is an X-factor which should not be discounted, especially for a franchise struggling in the PR department. Still, salary aside, this is a fairly even hockey trade—Philly gets the better scorer, Columbus gets he better passer.
Yet salary is a factor. $5.75M down the road post-COVID is nothing compared to the $2.4M difference this season, with a flat cap and very good teams in cap hell. (That fourth season can be bought out for under $2M/year for two seasons.)
Look what Arizona has done selling their cap space for picks. Most free agents will be at a deep discount. (You think Taylor Hall would be available at $6M per in a few seasons?) Cap is king this year—and even (or especially) non-contenders can take advantage of that to set up future success. There’s a reason Voracek was left unprotected (and unpicked) while Atkinson was not.
Thus, this would have been easier to digest had Philly thrown in some assets, even a 2023 2nd round pick or something similar.
Now if Columbus can flip Voracek after laundering part of his salary, the perspective changes. But that deal better already be in the pipeline. If it’s just wishful thinking, this could really bite them. I’d have preferred if they spent the late evening hours edging out Florida for Sam Reinhart. That might have made this more palatable.
No time to stop now, though. If the Jackets are committed to an overhaul, obviously move a goalie sooner rather than later (Korpisalo makes the most sense). Why stop there? Jenner is on an expiring contract, and Gavrikov’s cap hit makes him worth more than his hockey ability alone. I would and will miss all of these players that finally built the Jackets into threats (not real contenders), but rip off the Band-Aid all at once. Far better than death by a thousand cuts over the next few years.