The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens got a jump on the trading action before the start of the NHL draft Tuesday with an intriguing swap of forwards.
The Blue Jackets acquired center Max Domi and a third-round pick from the Canadiens for winger Josh Anderson, who had hasn’t played since December and had his 2019-20 season ended by surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder.
Each player is a restricted free agent who needs a new contract for next season.
Domi joins Columbus after putting up 44 points during the shortened regular season and just three during 10 games of a disappointing playoff performance. It will be the 25-year-old Domi’s third NHL organization after being drafted by and debuting with the Arizona Coyotes before two seasons with Montreal.
“Strengthening our center ice position has been a priority for our club, and we are extremely excited to add a player of Max Domi’s talent and character,” Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He is a skilled playmaker that also brings grit and competitiveness, and we think he will be a great addition to our team.”
Kekalainen called Anderson “a terrific hockey player and really good person.” Columbus gambled on keeping Anderson in the 2017 Vegas expansion draft and lost William Karlsson, who went on to become a top-line center for the Golden Knights.
This move recoups some of his value. The third-round pick the Blue Jackets are getting is the 78th overall in this year’s draft, which continues Wednesday with rounds 2-7.
Kekalainen last week forecast a flurry of trades leading up to and especially after the draft before free agency opens Friday. The salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million is one reason for that.
“The cap’s flat and teams might have to make some tough decisions with their roster, and the free agency might look a little different after those decisions,” Kekalainen said. “We’ll see.”
This was more a deal of two players getting fresh starts. The San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild made two deals Monday, and more player-for-player hockey trades and moves to clear cap space are expected.
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