Maple Leafs acquire Blue Jackets captain Foligno

    Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded captain Nick Foligno to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.

The Blue Jackets received a 2021 first-round pick, as well as a 2022 fourth-round choice, and will also retain 25% of Foligno’s contract, which expires this summer. Foligno is in the final season of a six-year contract with a $5.5 million cap hit.

The San Jose Sharks served as a broker in the trade, and sent forward Stefan Noesen to Columbus for a fourth-round pick. Since the Sharks are retaining a percentage of Foligno’s cap hit also, the Maple Leafs are on the hook for only 25% of Foligno’s salary.

“Nick Foligno has been everything you’d want in a captain, in a representative of your team and ambassador for your community. His contributions to the Blue Jackets franchise and the impact he and his family have had off the ice is immeasurable,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “We are grateful for everything he, Janelle, and their family have done for and with us over the past nine years. Given where we are right now, this move made sense for us as an organization and for Nick.”

Columbus has made the playoffs in four straight seasons, often overachieving despite big free-agency losses, such as Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin. Things haven’t gone as smoothly this season, as Columbus is seventh out of eight teams in the Central Division.

Already, the Blue Jackets have jettisoned unhappy center Pierre-Luc Dubois for Patrik Laine, but the transition hasn’t gone smoothly. The Blue Jackets are now looking at a retool.

On Saturday, the Blue Jackets also obtained a first-round pick by trading away defenseman David Savard, who spent his entire 10-year career with the Blue Jackets.

Foligno is a high-energy forward who plays a sound defensive game. He’ll add value to the bottom of the Maple Leafs’ star-studded lineup.

Toronto currently leads the North Division. Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas made it an emphasis to add veteran grit this season. The Maple Leafs added 32-year-old Wayne Simmonds and 41-year-old Joe Thornton in free agency.

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