Earlier this month, Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been sniffing around Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno in GM Kyle Dubas’ efforts to build a Stanley Cup contender. It was later confirmed by more insiders that the Leafs were indeed interested in landing Foligno, who might be up for grabs now that the Jackets are struggling and falling out of contention.
Several teams have ticked tires about Foligno, who holds a 10-team no trade list, and many insiders believed the Maple Leafs are top candidates to land him if Columbus soon realizes it will sell at the trade deadline.
This prompted insider James Mirtle for The Athletic to suggest a huge trade to get Foligno in Toronto. This is how he puts it: he would send a second-round pick and middling prospect to Columbus in return for the veteran forward.
“But the Blue Jackets’ playoff chances are in the tank , and Foligno is a pending UFA. He’s played nearly 1,000 games so there are some miles on the odometer, and he’s not going to contribute as high in the lineup as a Palmieri. But if you swing and miss on the higher-octane options, Foligno does make a lot of sense.
You know you’re going to get strong defensive play with a few timely goals thrown in. And his $5.5 million cap hit isn’t that hard to stomach if the Blue Jackets eat some of the money in the transaction.
He would almost certainly be going back to Columbus in the offseason, but as a rental, this could work.”
This could work, both for the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, who we bet would hate to lose their captain for much longer.
When Simmons talked about the idea of acquiring Foligno, he revealed that the cost for the Jackets’ captain could be high as the Leafs “would have to move other assets and money, certainly Alex Kerfoot for example, maybe of the the young defensemen Rasmus Sandin or Timothy Liljegren, maybe the young sniper Nick Robertson, maybe an early-round draft pick.”
The New York Islanders might also be in the mix for Foligno, who has tallied six goals and 15 points in 38 games this season after posting 10 goals and 31 points in 67 games last season. He carries a $5.5 million cap hit in the final season of a six-year deal signed with the Blue Jackets in 2014. Columbus has lost previously held onto pending unrestricted free agents for their playoff runs in recent seasons, including Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and rentals Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel two years ago : and we all know how it turned out.
Maybe Foligno will want a chance to compete with a contender like the Leafs, and possibly return home for the start of next season.
So… do you pull the trigger?