The Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens have found some common ground, swapping restricted free agent forwards Josh Anderson and Max Domi. The Blue Jackets will also receive a 2020 third-round selection in the trade. Both players are represented by agent Darren Ferris and will need new contracts for 2020-21.
Both Anderson and Domi have had huge success in the past for their respective teams, but needed a change of scenery after some recent struggles.
In Anderson’s case, the relationship with the Blue Jackets has been strained for some time, going back to a contract negotiation in 2017 that saw him miss all of training camp. That was followed by two successful seasons, but the 26-year-old forward managed to score just a single goal in 26 games in 2019-20 while struggling with injury.
The Canadiens are obviously betting that Anderson can rebound and get back to the player who scored 27 goals in 2018-19 and looked like one of the best power forwards in the entire league. A fourth-round pick in 2012, Anderson brings size (6’3″ 220-lbs) and goal scoring to a Montreal team that lacked both this season. He’s also coming off a contract that carried a cap hit of just $1.85MM and requires just a $2.1MM qualifying offer (though is arbitration-eligible).
For Domi, this trade comes just a year after he scored 72 points for the Canadiens, the franchise’s third-highest total in the cap era. That incredible year was followed by a frustrating, 44-point season in 2019-20 however, which saw Domi dropped to the fourth line at times and just never seem to find his true footing in the Montreal lineup.
He also, quite importantly, is coming off a contract that carried a $3.15MM cap hit and will require a $2.9MM qualifying offer. Domi is expected to be looking for a substantial raise on that number, something that the Canadiens may not have felt comfortable with as they start to transition to other young centers.
Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are the future in Montreal, meaning Domi either would have had to play in the bottom-six or move to the wing. That isn’t the case in Columbus, where he can slide in as the team’s second-line center behind Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Perhaps the most interesting part in the deal is the draft pick, which seems like an asset that the Canadiens shouldn’t have had to include in a swap of these two players. Montreal certainly had plenty of capital to spend given they still have ten picks in tonight’s draft, but it is striking to see Anderson actually hold more value than Domi even after losing basically his entire season to injury.