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Duchene, Dzingel trades show how much Blue Jackets want playoff success

Columbus acquires pending UFAs from Senators, hopes forwards help deliver first series victory

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- Word of the Columbus Blue Jackets' latest big acquisition started to circulate shortly after a 4-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday that was so thorough that even coach John Tortorella said he was impressed.

After acquiring center Matt Duchene from the Ottawa Senators on Friday, the Blue Jackets completed another trade with the Senators on Saturday for forward Ryan Dzingel.

If it wasn't clear after the trade for Duchene that the Blue Jackets are tired of waiting to make their mark in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it is now.

"I couldn't be more excited," Dzingel told the Blue Jackets website. "I want to get this thing started. It's going to be a lot of fun."

 

[RELATED: Duchene scores first goal with Columbus in win over San Jose | Dzingel traded to Blue Jackets from Senators]

 

For Dzingel and a seventh-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, the Blue Jackets gave up forward Anthony Duclair and a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and the 2021 NHL Draft. That came after they sent forward prospects Vitaly Abramov and Jonathan Davidsson, a first-round pick in the 2019 draft and a conditional first-round pick in the 2020 draft to Ottawa for Duchene, who had his first goal and assist with Columbus on Saturday, and minor league defenseman Julius Bergman.

Like Duchene, Dzingel can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, so each player might turn out to be a rental. But in Columbus, the players and the fans are excited about the possibility of winning a playoff series for the first time in their 18 NHL seasons.

"This has been growing for a while now and we're excited," captain Nick Foligno said before the Blue Jackets thrilled a sellout crowd of 19,025 at Nationwide Arena by defeating the Sharks. "We still have a long way to go and we're not trying to get ahead of ourselves, but this is something that we see as a good foundation for success down the road and hopefully in the near future, and we're excited about showing that."

Video: SJS@CBJ: Duchene backhands the puck past Jones

General manager Jarmo Kekalainen did not speak with the media following the trade for Dzingel, but he might have some more moves up his sleeve before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Among the questions to be answered is whether forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will remain with the Blue Jackets after the deadline.

Panarin, who had an assist Saturday, and Bobrovsky, who got his second shutout in as many days, each can become a UFA on July 1. Each has declined to negotiate a new contract with the Blue Jackets, and the expectation is that each will sign elsewhere.

The no-move clause in Bobrovsky's contract further complicates matters. The 30-year-old wouldn't discuss Saturday whether he has been asked to waive it.

"I don't want to talk about it," said Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's best goaltender. "Let me enjoy the shutout today and don't think about those things."

Panarin leads the Blue Jackets with 68 points (24 goals, 44 assists), and getting something for him in a trade, rather than receiving nothing for him if he were to leave in the offseason, is something Kekalainen continues to ponder.

"We're not going to trade Panarin just for draft picks," Kekalainen said Friday. "We're going to keep our eyes and ears open on what the marketplace looks like. That's what we have said right from the start. But it would have to be a deal that we can't refuse. It would have to make sense now and into the future."

Video: Will Matt Duchene help Columbus keep Panarin?

But consider the firepower the Blue Jackets would boast if they keep Panarin for the rest of the season. They would have six forwards with at least 20 goals: Cam Atkinson (34), Duchene (28), Panarin (24), Pierre-Luc Dubois (23), Dzingel (22) and Josh Anderson (22).

"I remember yesterday walking into the room before I got traded and looking at the board and seeing all the names and thinking, 'Wow, that's a hell of a team,'" Duchene said. "Hopefully I can bring another element to that and fit in, and so far, so good. We've had two big wins."

Duchene left open the possibility of signing a new contract with the Blue Jackets, but the 28-year-old said Saturday he'd prefer to put off negotiations until after the season.

"I want to see what everything's like here," he said. "It's a brand-new spot. For right now, I think everyone's on the same page with that. Let's focus on the hockey. That's been my focus all year."

Dzingel played three seasons at nearby Ohio State from 2011-2014. The 26-year-old told the Blue Jackets website that signing a new contract with Columbus is a possibility.

"I know the place very well," said Dzingel, a native of Wheaton, Illinois. "My family is close. There's a lot of things I like about the whole situation. It's definitely a possibility and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what comes of that."

Video: Discussing the Ottawa-Columbus trade

For now, however, the Blue Jackets (35-23-3) are focused on locking up a playoff spot first. With their win Saturday, they remained third in the Metropolitan Division and moved within two points of the second-place Washington Capitals.

Their next game is against the Pittsburgh Penguins -- who are fifth in the division, tied in points with the Carolina Hurricanes and one point behind Columbus -- here on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV). By then, the trade deadline will have passed and their roster will be set for however long they play this season.

"You know Jarmo's going to do something great," Atkinson said. "That's what he's done all along. So once three o'clock or whatever time hits, whoever is with us, we're going to be rocking and rolling until the end."

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