The Columbus Blue Jackets have traded defenceman Markus Nutivaara. The Blue Jackets will receive forward Cliff Pu from the Florida Panthers in exchange. Free agency begins tomorrow but both teams preferred to strike a deal now before the chaos increases. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet broke the news Thursday afternoon.
Bill Zito makes a trade with his former team. https://t.co/J4eVfmaIqw
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 8, 2020
Blue Jackets Trade Markus Nutivaara
Nutivaara was mostly used as a depth defender in 2019-20. The 26-year-old scored just three goals and nine points in 37 games. He only posted 35 hits and 33 blocks. Some of that was due to an injury suffered in November and the shortened regular season, but it was just a down year overall. However, Nutivaara did post a similar scoring rate last year with 0.24 points per game. He also had an increase to some advanced stats; his Corsi For improved from 48.7 percent to 49.4 and his relative Corsi For went from a dismal -2.1 to .07. The former seventh-round selection has just 244 NHL games so there is still time to be a regular player.
Pu has played in the NHL yet. He spent this season with the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in Springfield and ECHL affiliate in Greenville. The former third-round pick from the 2016 NHL Draft had 14 games total with one goal and eight points. Pu looks like a bottom-six grinder with little scoring ability but he does have a 6′-2″, 192-pound frame.
What This Means for the Future
This deal benefits Florida more in the short-term. The Panthers blueline has just five players at the NHL level after this move. They have yet to re-sign pending free agents MacKenzie Weegar or Mark Pysyk. If both of them return, Nutivaara likely moves to the team’s bottom-pairing with heavy usage on the penalty kill.
The Blue Jackets might have a use for Pu in the future but the deal mostly looks like a way to clear salary. Moving Nutivaara gives the team $2.7 million in cap space, which pushes their overall total money to roughly $9.61 million. Nutivaara was also unnecessary as one of Columbus’ main strengths is blue line depth. They will probably use the money saved to re-sign star forward Pierre-Luc Dubois and others.