Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Thursday morning that Columbus Blue Jackets restricted free agent Josh Anderson hopes to be on the move – and soon.
Anderson, who put up 17 goals and 29 points in a breakout 2016-17 season for Columbus, still sits unsigned with the Blue Jackets despite opening night looming just one week away. Friedman suggests that both the player and the team – who sit a mere $150,000 apart in proposed annual average salaries on a three-year deal being negotiated – are standing firm in their asks ‘on principle’, despite the seemingly surmountable gap in figures.
With neither side willing to budge, Anderson has asked the Blue Jackets to move him elsewhere – and although it’s believed that Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen already refused to package Anderson in a deal to grab Matt Duchene from Colorado, he may have no choice but to move the player at this point.
Friedman believes that there’s significant interest around the NHL, so it isn’t altogether surprising that Canucks GM Jim Benning is testing the waters as well.
Hearing #Canucks gm Jim Benning has called Columbus to inquire about Josh Anderson who Elliotte Friedman reports has asked for a trade.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) September 28, 2017
Rick Dhaliwal suggests that Benning rang up Kekäläinen in the aftermath of Friedman’s report, likely getting a feel for what the Metropolitan Division team is going to want in return for the pending restricted free agent.
If they can’t get a deal done, it’s believed that Anderson is being pushed to kick off the season overseas in Switzerland, where he’ll get a reliable salary and ample playing time until something happens stateside.
With that as an option, Columbus may not want to make a move – especially from a disadvantaged position, where they’re unlikely to get an optimal return. If Anderson heads overseas, the team can always revisit his deal next year and keep the 23-year-old winger in their arsenal.
Anderson seems clear that he wants to stay in North America, though, so continue to play the holding game with him could further deteriorate Columbus’ relationship with the skater. A trade may be good option for them to consider, even if it means parting with a promising power forward.
For Vancouver, he’s an intriguing option, although it’s tough to know exactly what his value is at this point. Although the former fourth-round pick did put up 17 goals last year on a high-flying Columbus roster, Anderson was never a top scorer in the major juniors with London or at the AHL level; he may have a nose for the net but need a true play driver to bolster his abilities, which Vancouver should be wary of adding. If Benning can’t get something cost-effective done, sitting this deal out could be the smartest option – although it obviously never hurts to ask about an available asset.