BLUE JACKETS LOOKING FOR TOP CENTRE

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The Columbus Blue Jackets completed one blockbuster trade this season and they may be trying to pull the trigger on another if they can find a willing partner. . . Last month, TFP reported the Blue Jackets were in the market for a centre after Mikko Koivu announced his retirement from the game. Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen admitted to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic the team is searching for a top centre, though acknowledged the difficulties in trying to procure one. . . Its a challenge because theyre just not available, Kekalainen said. You usually have to draft and develop one. We did that well with one player Pierre-Luc Dubois, and now hes not here. . . Now we have to get back into our hunt, finding a centerman either through the draft or through a trade. They arent available very often. There could be some available in the free agent market next summer. . . In addition to adding Koivu as a free agent in the off-season, the team traded winger Josh Anderson to the Montreal Canadiens for Max Domi with the mindset that he would slot into the teams No. 2 centre position behind Dubois. . . Domi, who has one-year left on his contract after this season, has just three goals and four assists in 26 games so far this season and has been seeing time on the wing. . . Well keep searching and doing our job and building a team, Kekalainen said. We have some very good potential center ice men growing into that role within our team. But were also going to look for ways to strengthen that position from the outside. . . Portzline lists Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel and Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin as potential targets via trade, but any move would have to include defenceman Zach Werenski. The Sabres seem willing to at least listen on Eichel, while there is no indicated the Red Wings would entertain the idea of trading Larkin. . . Should the Blue Jackets look to bring in a top prospect at the centre position, they could turn to the Los Angeles Kings, though they may be more inclined to go after a proven pivot. . . The Kings are looking for a top pair defenceman with a left shot and Werenski certainly fits that bill. Last week, TFPs David Pagnotta and Dennis Bernstein listed Werenski as a target the Kings should pursue and could piece together a package that includes 2019 fifth-overall selection Alex Turcotte, who plays centre.

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