Bryan Murray and Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson are closing in on another trade right before Draft Day on Friday. Multiple sources tell me that Murray has a deal in principle to send goaltender Alexander Auld to the Jackets for defenseman Kris Russell.
To start off with, sorry to any fans who thought this was another Heatley post. It looks like Auld has stolen his thunder. But back to the trade, Murray has been interested in Russell for a very, very long time and almost acquired him in the Vermette for LeClaire trade, however, he would face cap problems. Now that it seems as if Brendan Bell will not be re-signed, Jason Smith set to reitre, and one of Christoph Schubert or Alexandre Picard to be traded, there is room for the budding, young defenseman.
The Blue Jackets do not have a backup to Steve Mason since Frederik Norrena and Wade Dubielewicz are set to become Unrestricted Free Agents. Auld fills that role perfectly and is very cheap at 1 mil per year. It also gives Howson some flexibility since this is the last year on Auld's contract and helps burn the log-jam the Jackets have on defense.
For anyone who isn't familiar with Russel, he is a very fluid, puck moving defenseman and responsible defensively. He is projected to be a Top 4 Pairing defenseman and is cheap as well. I think Murray wants to get rid of any goalie controversary and establish a LeClaire-Elliott tandem before training camp.