The NHL trade deadline is just under three weeks from now, and teams around the league are scouting potential trade options to boost their team for a playoff run.
At last year's deadline, Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland was busy, acquiring both Erik Cole and Marek Zidlicky. Fans were happy to see him make two significant moves after years of either standing pat or trading for a veteran on his last legs. This season, Holland should have his eyes on a member of the 28th place Columbus Blue Jackets who could be dealt, and that player is Scott Hartnell.
Red Wings fans will be quick to remember Hartnell's days as a member of Detroit's then Central Division rival Nashville Predators, notably his hit on defenseman Jiri Fischer that sidelined him for the season. Hartnell was a thorn in Detroit's side, which then translated to the rest of the NHL when he signed a free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2007. He was a huge part of the Flyers team that advanced to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, playing on a line with Danny Briere and former Red Wing Ville Leino.
A 37-goal campaign in 2011-12 earned Hartnell a hefty contract extension from the Flyers, who soon decided it was too costly and promptly moved him to the Blue Jackets in 2014. After a 28-goal, 60-point season last year, Hartnell has scored 18 goals in 53 games thus far. Currently stuck in the NHL's standings basement, the Blue Jackets could look to move him despite his being one of their lone bright spots this season.
A player built for playoff hockey, Hartnell is known for his net presence, whom Red Wings fans would appreciate after years of watching Tomas Holmstrom torment goaltenders league-wide. He also doesn't shy away from the rough stuff, willing to drop the gloves and throw big hits. Though his cap hit is currently set at $5 million, Detroit could structure a deal in which Columbus retains part of his salary and send a draft pick(s) and prospect the other way.
While it remains to be seen exactly what the Red Wings plan on doing this trade deadline, acquiring Scott Hartnell would be a huge boost to their lineup, and fans would instantly embrace the former divisional foe.