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Struggling Blue Jackets 'listening' on big-name players ahead of deadline

Ivan Provorov Columbus Blue Jackets Ivan Provorov - The Canadian Press

The Columbus Blue Jackets are open to "listening" on top players ahead of the March 8 trade deadline, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger reports.

"Yeah, listening. It's a safe way really of describing when you're engaging in trade discussions, or you're at least willing to listen, and that's where the Columbus Blue Jackets come in," Dreger explained on Insider Trading Thursday. "Jarmo Kekalainen, the general manager of the Blue Jackets, is willing to listen on a couple of big-name guys like Patrik Laine and Ivan Provorov and there are others.

"Now, obviously Adam Fantilli is untouchable and there are other young players the Blue Jackets won't want to move. A number of teams though are also very interested in veteran Boone Jenner, but he's a heart-and-soul guy with a terrific contract, so it's highly unlikely that the Blue Jackets consider moving him. But again, Jarmo Kekalainen and the Columbus Blue Jackets are listening."

The Blue Jackets improved to 15-23-9 with Thursday's 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames, but remain 16 points back of the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Columbus has missed the playoffs in each of the past three years.

Laine has six goals and nine points while being limited to 18 games this season due to injury. The 25-year-old winger remains under contract through the 2025-26 season at a cap hit of $8.7 million. He is currently on injured reserve with a fractured clavicle.

Provorov, 27, is in just his first season with the Blue Jackets after being acquired last summer from the Philadelphia Flyers. The defenceman has four goals and 23 points in 44 games this season and is signed through next season at a cap hit of $6.75 million, though the Los Angeles Kings retained just over $2 million of that in the three-way trade that landed him in Columbus. 

Laine was selected second overall in the 2016 draft, while Provorov went seventh overall in 2015. Selected third overall in last year's draft, Fantilli is off the table in the trade talks amid a strong rookie campaign. He has 11 goals and 25 points in 44 games with the Blue Jackets after spending last season at the University of Michigan.

Jenner, who was named team captain 2021, was named to his first All-Star Game this season. The 30-year-old, who returned recently from a broken jaw, has 13 goals and 18 points in 32 games. He carries a cap hit of $3.75 million through the 2025-26 season.

Defenceman Andrew Peeke was the lone member of the Blue Jackets listed on the latest TSN Trade Bait board, checking in at No. 15.