The Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators have announced a trade: forward Mathieu Olivier is going from Nashville to Columbus in exchange for the 122nd pick at next week’s draft, a pick that originally belonged to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Olivier, 25, is an undrafted player who spent most of this past season with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. The six-foot-two, 210-pound native of Biloxi, Mississippi had his longest stretch of NHL action in 2020-21, when he got into 30 games for the Predators, registering three goals and five points to go along with 70 penalty minutes. Olivier will play next season on a $750k cap hit before becoming an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent.
In Olivier, the Blue Jackets are acquiring a big, physical fourth-line grinder. He’s a hit-first, ask questions later sort of player who isn’t much different from what Columbus coach Brad Larsen was when he was in the NHL. Olivier isn’t much of a scorer, and his 11 points in 46 AHL games this past season is a clear indication of that. Olivier fits best in a fourth-line role at both the NHL and AHL levels and can play that role with some success. Predators coach John Hynes trusted Olivier enough to play him in three of the team’s four playoff games this year, and it’s definitely possible that he earns a similar level of trust from Larsen. While fourth-rounder is a bit of a steep price to pay for someone who likely won’t be anything more than a fourth-liner, it’s clear the Blue Jackets have an identity they want to build and they believe that Olivier helps them build it.
For the Predators, getting a fourth-rounder for Olivier is a decent bit of business, especially if he wasn’t in their long-term plans. According to The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler, the Predators have the 12th-ranked prospect pool in the NHL, so adding another pick in next week’s draft gives GM David Poile and his staff another swing of the bat to try to make a home-run selection.
Ultimately, if the Predators do end up feeling like they’ll miss what Olivier brings to the table, physical fourth-liners are always available in free agency. But with Tanner Jeannot and Yakov Trenin already in the fold, among others, it’s possible that dealing Olivier is simply the Predators cashing in a surplus player in order to add an extra draft choice.