Max Domi seems unlikely to stay with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and thus presents a valuable trade chip for Jarmo Kekalainen.
Could the Boston Bruins be the team he concludes this season with?
The Blue Jackets, though not completely out of the playoff picture yet, are a rebuilding team unlikely to make the postseason. With an expiring contract like Domi’s, it makes all the sense in the world for Columbus to move him — a concept that seems well-known around the league.
“There’s no doubt the Blue Jackets are interested in moving Domi to a suitor before the deadline as an expiring contract,” Daily Faceoff’s NHL Insider Frank Seravalli wrote late last week.
Then, there was this Tuesday from SportsNet’s Elliotte Friedman.
“As Boston welcomes back Tuukka Rask, wonder if Max Domi makes any sense for the Bruins,” Friedman wrote.
It’s easy to see where he’s coming from.
Domi is a high-energy winger with a proven scoring ability, albeit a skill that has trended downward upon his move from the Montreal Canadiens to Columbus. A 5-foot-9, 192-pound left winger, Domi has eight goals and as many assists this season across 24 games. But, he’s clearly fallen out of favor with the Blue Jackets, as his ice time has tanked this season and head coach Brad Larsen currently is using him in a fourth line checking role. That he’s been this productive offensively in 2021-22 is almost surprising with that in mind.
That’s not where his game is best suited though, and he’s more than capable of playing up in the lineup. From a Bruins standpoint, Brad Marchand and Taylor Hall have the top two left wing slots locked up, while some combination of Nick Foligno, Jake DeBrusk, Anton Blidh and Trent Frederic have been used in the bottom two left wing spots.
Domi would be a great fit on a line with Oskar Steen and Charlie Coyle, taking the spot that’s currently used by Foligno. With increased health across the roster, a Domi-Coyle-Steen third line would result in Frederic, Blidh, Foligno, Tomas Nosek, Curtis Lazar and, if he has not yet been traded, DeBrusk, for the fourth line spots.
For a Bruins team that is seeing the value of having scoring depth up and down the lineup, that has to make a potential addition of Domi tantalizing.
In Domi’s first five seasons, split between the Arizona Coyotes and Canadiens, he recorded fewer than 44 points in a season just once, when he had 38 points in his second NHL season. His best year was 2018-19, when he had 28 goals and 44 assists in 82 regular season games.
We looked into the potential fit with Arizona Coyotes left winger Lawson Crouse, who is reported to have been a target of the Bruins for a few years. Crouse or Domi would make sense in that third line left wing spot, it would just be a matter of what look Boston prefers. Crouse has more size, but Domi isn’t a slouch and is willing to play physical, while backing things up with his fists when needed – he fought Foligno a couple of years ago. Domi also has a more demonstrated track record of scoring at the NHL level than Crouse.
With a $5.3 million annual cap hit, Domi wouldn’t come cheap, and it’s likely the Bruins would need to either send salary out or add a sweetener to a trade package to get Columbus to retain money. But for the scoring ability and brand of hockey he brings, there’s a really strong fit with the Bruins. It would open up the bottom six for Boston and allow them to swim in forward depth, while giving the third line a significant boost in offensive ability.
If the price is right, Domi and the Bruins make a fair amount of sense.