The Florida Panthers have acquired defenseman Marcus Nutivaara from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Cliff Pu.
For the past four seasons Nutivaara has been a big part of the Blue Jackets defense. But 2019-20 was his weakest, as he dealt with injuries and was frequently a healthy scratch, including in some playoff games. As the Blue Jackets look to clear up cap space to sign Pierre-Luc Dubois and get more improvements, trading Nutivaara is something that probably needed to happen, along with buying-out Alex Wennberg, which they did just before the trade. Florida gets a solid bottom pairing defenseman, and new GM Bill Zito just came from Columbus, so he obviously likes Nutivaara. Since they only have six NHL forwards signed for next year, it is a little odd that they would take on Nutivaara's $2.7 million cap hit for two seasons, but that is a manageable number. They give up almost nothing in return, because Pu, a 2016 3rd rounder, is a fringe AHL player who they acquired for future considerations in 2019.
Nutivaara, 26, scored three goals with six assists for nine points in 37 games played for the Blue Jackets in 2019-20. In his NHL career, all in Columbus, Nutivaara has 17 goals with 43 assists for 60 points in 244 games.
Pu, 22, had two points (both assists) in 10 games for the AHL's Springfield Thunderbirds last year. He also had one goal with five assists for six points in four games for the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits.