Columbus Blue Jackets Rumors: 3 Top-6 Offseason Center Targets

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a very young and inexperienced team, so if they want to turn things around quickly while Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine are under contract, the young players are either going to have to grow up real fast or the team goes out and acquires some help down the middle.

Kevin Hayes

This season the Blue Jackets saw a bit of a regression from Cole Sillinger, proving he isn't yet ready for a ton of responsibility. That being said, Columbus may be trading Jack Roslovic and has Boone Jenner as their number one center. There are better options out there to fill a hole that needs addressing.

Kevin Hayes seems like a great candidate as the Philadelphia Flyers have made it publicly known that they are rebuilding and it could take some time. To shorten that rebuild, they will have to get rid of some of their top contributors and Hayes had the second-most points on the team with 54. He may not be the top line center the Blue Jackets are hoping to have fall into their lap, but the Flyers will be able to retain salary and Hayes is an upgrade over anyone the Blue Jackets can throw out with Gaudreau and Laine right now.

Evgeni Kuznetsov

There were rumors this season that Evgeni Kuznetsov asked for a trade. Although he states that isn't true, that doesn't mean the Washington Capitals aren't looking to trade him anyways. They have too much talent up front and not enough room and cap space. Kuznetsov's salary coming off the books would do a lot.

The Capitals would still have Nicklas Backstrom and Dylan Strome to man the top two lines. Kuznetsov is a highly skilled player that could do well in a market like Columbus and provide quality play for the two years he has left on his deal. This length of contract would hopefully give the Blue Jackets enough time to see Sillinger or Kent Johnson develop into a top-six center.

William Karlsson

The Vegas Golden Knights are always worrying about cap one way or another and they will likely be in the same boat in the offseason. While their wings could use some work, they are stacked down the middle, allowing them to free up space by trading someone away. Jack Eichel isn't going anywhere while Chandler Stephenson is on too good of a deal to be moved. That leaves William Karlsson as a potential trade candidate.

Karlsson may be the least likely of these three to be moved, but he also has the lowest cap hit. Vegas isn't afraid to move on from someone who isn't producing up to standards, and though Karlsson put up 14 goals and 53 points, he has failed to score more than 15 since 2018-19. He is still a solid contributor and his passing ability could work well in conjunction with Laine on the top line. This is a potential chance for the Blue Jackets to correct their mistake of letting him be drafted in the expansion draft.

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